After back to back Super Bowl appearances can the mighty Seahawks make it 3 in a row?
So yesterday I gave you my 2015-2016 NFL Preview - AFC Regular Season Standings and Playoff Predictions. Now it's time to tell you how I see the NFC playing out this year. The Seattle Seahawks have dominated the NFC over the last couple of years, winning one Super Bowl and one Conference Championship. There's a lot of other teams though that are looking to knock them out this year. Will they be able to do it?
Let's get things started by taking a look at the NFC East
NFC East Regular Season Predictions
1. Philadelphia Eagles - Chip Kelly went 10 and 6 with a bunch of players who did not necessarily fit his particular style or system. Now he gets a chance to prove what he can do with a team that is specifically designed with his system and style of play in mind. I think Sam Bradford can be REALLY REALLY good in Kelly's system, the question with him as always is can he stay healthy. You're not doing bad at all when you lose your star running back and upgrade him with an even bigger star running back. And for all the changes in offense, it could be the defense that steals the show for this team. They are my pick to win this division.
2. Dallas Cowboys - It's hard to count "the boys" out when they have arguably the best offensive line in the conference and one of the better quarterbacks in the league. I think the loss of Murray is going to hurt. I don't believe McFadden and Randal are the answer, although this offensive line will make them better than they actually are. I think they improve slightly on the pass rush, however, I still think they have some questions in the secondary and for those reasons, I don't see them repeating as division champions.
3. New York Giants - Sorry Giants fans there's not much to like about your team this year. Defense is weak already and thanks to the infamous fourth of July incident Jason Pierre Paul bare minimum won't be 100% and more likely is going to miss a couple of games. Your front 7 is suspect. Your secondary is suspect. At least there's Odell Beckham Jr. He'll be a ton of fun to watch. I don't expect much improvement on last year's 6 and 10 record.
4. Washington Redskins - This team is a mess! We don't even know if they are even going to be able to keep their team name, much less whether they are going to be able to play any football. Their star quarterback Robert Griffin III is now a backup. New GM, new head coach, completely new team. I expect completely similar results to last year. They just aren't that good. I would be impressed if they could win 6 games with the team they are going to put out on the field. Kirk Cousins is not the answer. Their offensive line is suspect. Their defense is suspect. They have a couple of pieces at running back and wide receiver and that's it. Another ugly year for the Redskins.
NFC North Regular Season Predictions
1. Green Bay Packers - Losing Jordy Nelson for the year definitely hurts. However, this is the Green Bay Packers and make no mistake about it, in my Stephen A Smith voice, Aaron Rodgers is a BADY MAN! Eddie Lacy is one of the best running backs in the NFL. I think Davante Adams has what it takes to step up now that Randall Cobb becomes the #1 option and they have some young talent who can also step up as well. Special teams is still an issue but other than that, I don't see anything not to like about this team.
2. Minnesota Vikings - I think this team is going to be a lot better than some people may expect this year. Remember they went 7 and 9 last year without Adrian Petersen and now they get him back for a full year. Teddy Bridgewater is going to improve even more with another year under his belt and if defenses try to stack the box, I think Bridgewater has the tools to punish them. Don't be surprised if they beat out the Lions and sneak into the playoffs.
3. Detroit Lions - The Lions still have a strong core on the offensive side of the ball with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. However, the long of Suh and Nick Fairley is huge and I don't believe they have made enough moves in the offseason to address the huge hole they have in their defensive line right now. Running game could be better assuming Bell can stay healthy. Improving on their 11-6 record to me is out of the question and I wouldn't be surprised if they only go .500 this year.
4. Chicago Bears - John Fox is a great coach and giving enough time I think he has what it takes to turn this team around. However, I don't think that's going to happen this year. Jay Cutler is suspect. Their wide receiving corp is pretty banged up. They are one of the weakest defensive teams in the NFL (if you play daily fantasy football a free tip for you is target offensive players playing the Bears). They just have way too many holes this year to really do anything of significance.
NFC South Regular Season Predictions
1. New Orleans Saints - This division is hard to pick not because everyone is good but because everyone is BAD!!! They have one of the best Quarterbacks in the NFL in Drew "Feel That Smooth Brees." They lost several games by only a few points last year and although they will miss Jimmy Graham I think they have enough to get it done on the offensive side of the ball. The big question is what is always the question in this team and that is the defense and that's what's going to determine whether they win the division or not.
2. Carolina Panthers - I actually had them winning the division again until Kelvin Benjamin got hurt for the season. That is a HUGE loss and in a division that is so close because everyone is bad, a injury of that magnitude could very well be the difference between winning the division and not making the playoffs because you better believe there will be no wild card team coming from this sorry division! Their defense though is pretty good. It could be good enough to help them get over the top.
3. Atlanta Falcons - This division is such a disaster the Falcons are certainly capable of winning it also. The problem is their offensive line looked horrible in the preseason and if they don't get it together it's going to be a LONG year for Matt Ryan. Their defensive line has gotten better a little bit but not much. This team definitely looks like they are in full out rebuilding mode and are definitely a number of pieces away from contention.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - They have Jamesis Winston and Mike Evans but this team still has a ways to go before they can compete even in this terrible division. The offensive line is garbage. The secondary has probably taken a step back. Hopefully their defensive line will be better, but they still aren't ready to compete yet. Maybe in another year or two.
NFC West Regular Season Predictions
1. Seattle Seahawks - You must be smoking crack if you are seriously considering putting anybody else as the division winner here. If Pete Carroll decides to throw it at the one yard line, at least this time Russell Wilson now has Jimmy Graham to throw the ball to. I'm not exactly thrilled about the Kam Chancellor situation and there are legitimate concerns with their offensive line but other than that, I see this team easily winning the division and absolutely in the conversation for getting back to the Super Bowl.
2. Arizona Cardinals - The Cardinals were looking like the team to beat last year until Carson Palmer got hurt. Looks like they got some insurance by making the trade to get Matt Barkley after he lost out in the battle for signal caller for the Eagles. John Brown and JJ Nelson could be a very explosive backfield of targets for Palmer to throw to and the running game has definitely gotten better as well. I don't think they are good enough to challenge the Seahawks unfortunately but a wild card is certainly an option especially considering how far the 49ers have fallen from grace.
3. St Louis Rams - I like Nick Foles at Quarterback getting rid of Bradford who while very talented just couldn't stay on the field long enough to make a difference. Their defense is always good and this year is no exception. Their offensive line is very young though and that could definitely be an issue. I'm also concerned about whether they have enough weapons in wide receiver to be competitive.
4. San Francisco 49ers - This team is a disaster. They lost pretty much EVERYBODY. The offensive line is still terrible. They lost Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith AND Chris Borland thus decimating their lineback core. New coach. New offensive system. Tough division spells VERY long year for the 49er faithful in the bay area.
NFC Playoff Prediction
Green Bay Packers
New Orleans Saints
Wild Card Winners
Seattle Seahawks defeat Philadelphia Eagles
Seattle Seahawks defeat Philadelphia Eagles
Seattle Seahawks defeat Indianapolis Colts