The Second part of my division winner predictions are here (you can find the AFC predictions here.) Let’s get right into things.
NFC EAST: New York Giants
Coming HOT out of the gate, this is hell of a division to lead off with here, please well, it sucks. It’s the worst division in football. I’m embarrassed that I even have to write about which one of these terrible teams limps to the division title. With that said, I’m going with the G-Men.
With that said, I’m going with the G-Men.
Three words. Odell. Beckham. Junior. Who’s stopping this guy? The Giants offense is going to be better than it was last year. You can pencil Eli Manning in for 16 games because he hasn’t missed a game since Nam. They added Sterling Shepard, who I think is going to be the best wide receiver to come out of the rookie class. Tom Coughlin is no also longer the coach. That means the Giants will be able to handle a two-minute drill when the game is on the line. Defensively they’re nothing special even after spending a trillion dollars on their defensive line. The only offense that scares me in the division if I’m a Giants fan is the Redskins.
The Redskins are the trendy pick to win this division. I can’t trust them though. I’m not ready to pencil Kirk Cousins in for this monster year that most experts think he will have. I think it will be really close with the Giants all year. The Cowboys have two rookies starting at quarterback and running back so that’s a toss up. They also have more players suspended from their defense than they do active defensive players. Sit down and try to think of more than three players from the Cowboys defense. Your mind will be in a pretzel within 30 seconds. The Eagles just announced they’re starting Carson Wentz, who we found out from coaches had a lot to learn before playing in a game. Hmmmm. Also, it’s Philadelphia. What good things happen in Philadelphia besides drunken Eagles fans providing us with free entertainment before they get shipped off to the jail cell in the stadium?
NFC NORTH: Green Bay Packers
I’ll start by saying they weren’t originally my pick. I was rocking with the Vikings but then Teddy Bridgewater snapped his leg clean off and that was that. Green Bay has one of the best QB’s in the universe, which is enough to put you in contention. Last season they were out Jordy Nelson due to injury and Eddie Lacy due to eating rather than being a good running back. Both are back (and in shape) and the Packers look ready for Super Bowl contention. Rodgers will flourish with his full slate of receivers. They have a young secondary whose upside is something that the Packers will have to rely on with aging stars in the front seven. I expect them to win the division handily.
Minnesota, as I previously mentioned, was my pick to win it pre-Bridgewater injury. They don’t rely on the pass all that often but Bridgewater was enough of a threat to where opposing teams couldn’t just stack the box against the run. Plug in Sam Bradford (or Shaun Hill) and teams can do that. Vikings fans can look forward to the old run-the-ball-down-their-throats and play-great-defense to win formula. (They do have a good, young defense.) Chicago is a mess but fun because of another year of Jay “Flickin’ Bics, Throwin’ Picks” Cutler. Detroit is not a team I’m worried about, even with a full season of Jim Bob Cooter in charge of the offense. This division is a two-team race.
NFC SOUTH: Carolina Panthers
One word to describe this pick: easy. Defending NFC Champions, Cam Newton, and a guy by the name of Luke Kuechly. Josh Norman is out and the rookie corners scare me, but the front seven is the bread and butter of this defense. They have a relatively easy schedule for a first place team. I don’t see them dropping off much and even if they do, 11 or 12 wins as a drop-off is fine. Cam won’t have an MVP season again this year but again, the floor for this team is high (as is the the ceiling. Those are the qualities you want to have if you’re going to be a Super Bowl contender.
This division sucks too. I’ll throw the Bucs in second because I think Jameis Winston improves with the crop of weapons he has to work with. Tampa Bay is on the up and up. Atlanta, however, is whatever. They’ll probably start out hot and then fade into oblivion (again). There’s not really much to say about them. Does New Orleans have a defense? They have Drew Brees on offense but I’m not sure if I’ve seen their defense stop a nose bleed in the past few years.
NFC WEST: Seattle Seahawks
It’s going to be a BLOODBATH between Seattle and Arizona for the division. Think ‘Hawks-49ers a few years back. I’m rocking with the Seahawks. Russell Wilson is my pick to win MVP this year. He’s become a more prolific passer and certainly has the weapons at receivers to improve more. Not having Marshawn Lynch hurts. They’d rather have him barreling over linebackers instead of riding camels in Egypt. Thomas Rawls, if healthy, can shoulder the load though. Doug Baldwin will come back to Earth after becoming Jerry Rice in the final few weeks of the season last year. Tyler Lockett is high on my list of players to have a breakout year (fantasy players take note) and will contribute more on offense as well as special teams.
L.O.B. Seattle boasts one of the best defenses in the league. I think they come into this season with a chip on their shoulders. Maybe it’s because Arizona is gunning for the number one defense spot. All I know is that when you play Seattle, you better put your big boy pants on.
The Cardinals come in second but it’s really a toss up on who you like. They tout one of the best offenses in the league but the big question for them is will Carson Palmer stay healthy for a second straight year. St. Louis has no QB but they have Todd Gurley and a great defensive line. They’ll probably win against teams they shouldn’t and lose against teams they shouldn’t. Jeff Fisher has them for a lock at 8-8. Picture a car burning slowly on the side of the highway with no help in sight and nobody looking all too concerned. That’s the 49ers.