Friday, September 09, 2011

NFL 2011 Preview: NFC

I've got good news and bad news: The good news is that the lockout impasse was solved in time for the regular season to begin as scheduled. The bad news is that Peyton Manning is likely gone for the season with a second neck surgery. As I don't believe that Donovan McNabb is going to lead the Vikings to the playoffs and we're still a year or two away from Warren Beatty lookalike Christian Ponder from taking over, I have an opening available for this year's NFL man crush. Maybe Sam Bradford will step up and fill that role. In the meantime, here are my predictions for division finishes and playoffs this year.

NFC East
1. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)
2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
3. New York Giants (9-7)
4. Washington Redskins (6-10)

Look for Tony Romo to step up to the next level this season, as well as Rob Ryan's defense to be the difference in winning the division for Dallas. Despite all the hype, the Eagles will not be as good as expected; look for Michael Vick to have less success than last season.

NFC South
1. New Orleans Saints (11-5)
2. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
4. Carolina Panthers (3-13)

Toughest division in the NFC will see New Orleans and Atlanta slug it out for the title, but both these teams should make the playoffs.

NFC North
1. Green Bay Packers (14-2)
2. Chicago Bears (9-7)
3. Detroit Lions (8-8)
4. Minnesota Vikings (7-9)

I hate to say it, but Green Bay is simply playing on another level. I think the Bears will still play better than the Lions, and while Detroit will be improved, but I'm not ready to put them in the playoffs just yet.

NFC West
1. St. Louis Rams (9-7)
2. Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
3. San Francisco 49ers (7-9)
4. Seattle Seahawks (2-14)

With a brutal schedule for the first six games, the Rams should gain enough toughness and experience to run the table in the second half of the schedule and return to the playoffs for the first time in ages. Look for Jim Harbaugh to get consideration for coach of the year in SF. Seattle is clearly playing the Andrew Luck sweepstakes by choosing to start Tarvaris Jackson at QB.

NFC Playoffs
1. Green Bay
2. New Orleans
3. Dallas
4. St. Louis
5. Atlanta
6. Philadelphia

Wild Card Round
Dallas over Philadelphia
Atlanta over St. Louis

Divisional Round
Green Bay over Atlanta
New Orleans over Dallas

NFC Championship
Green Bay over New Orleans

later today: AFC Preview

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