2016 NFC Division Picks

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NFC East

I’m willing to peg the NFC East as the worst division going into the season.

Tony Romo has once again found himself on the disabled list and will be out for 6-10 weeks with the second back injury of his career.  The Cowboys signed Mark Sanchez after the back-up quarterback was cut from the Denver Broncos, but Dallas will turn to rookie Dak Prescott as their starter in Week 1.  He’s entering a decent situation with Ezekiel Elliot and a tremendous offensive line that will help the team overcome some of his growing pains.  The Cowboys are by far the most intriguing team in the NFL.  I could see them going 11-5 or 5-11.

In the nation’s capital, Kirk Cousins is playing for a contract this year.  The Washington Redskins franchise tagged their quarterback in the offseason instead of giving him a long-term guaranteed deal.  The hope was that he will play for his money this year and then team owner Dan Snyder will feel better about paying the former Michigan State quarterback.

The New York Giants retooled their defense with the signing of Olivier Vernon from Miami, but I still think they are just an average team behind both Eli Manning and a potentially injury-prone Odell Beckham Jr.

The Eagles will be amongst the worst teams in the NFL even with Carson Wentz.

So between a potentially dangerous Cowboys team and a steadily impressive Redskins team, I’m going with the safe pick and taking Washington to win the division.

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NFC North

The Teddy Bridgewater injury really sucks.  The Minnesota Vikings were a dark horse Super Bowl team before the non-contact knee injury to Bridgewater.  The Sam Bradford trade gives Minnesota a game-ready veteran quarterback (I can’t believe I just called Sam Bradford a veteran quarterback), but they were forced to give up a pretty significant asset in their 2017 first-round pick.  Minnesota will lean on linebacker Anthony Barr, newly re-signed safety Harrison Smith, and their league-leading defense as well as Adrian Peterson to grind out wins as Bradford adjusts to the Vikings’ system.  Side note: The Vikings new stadium looks incredible.

The Chicago Bears went into fire-sale mode in the offseason and some how still have Jay Cutler as their starting quarterback.  I’m slotting the Bears in as the first pick in next year’s draft.

Calvin Johnson is a huge loss for a Detroit Lions team that continues to be stuck in mediocrity.  The offense will go as Matt Stafford goes, but the Lions don’t seem to be lining up for a playoff spot in a competitive NFC North.

That brings me to Green Bay.  Aaron Rodgers is in for a helluva season.  Jordie Nelson is back and their ground game is strong behind Eddie Lacey and James Starks; however, I think Minnesota is too good on defense and, more importantly, that new stadium tho….

I’m taking Minnesota, but most definitely have the Packers in a wild card spot.

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NFC South

Cam Newton hasn’t played well in the preseason.  He had two interceptions in Carolina’s loss to New England.  I don’t put much stock in preseason play and if we’re being completely honest I very, very rarely watch preseason football in general.  HOWEVER, something about Newton’s play against the Patriots didn’t sit well with me.  Thirteen completions on 19 attempts for 100 yards and two interceptions is not a line you want to be looking at entering the season.

The Saints screwed themselves for cap room and the Falcons just don’t have enough fire power or any semblance of a defensive line, but the Tampa Buccaneers are quickly becoming a team I believe in.  Jameis Winston is feeling less pressure than he did as a rookie and Mike Evans is a BEAST who will have a new offensive coordinator this year. Trading up and taking kicker Roberto Aguayo out of Florida State was a bone-headed move, but I’m taking the Bucs to finish second behind the highly-favorited Carolina Panthers.

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NFC West

This should be a hotly contested division as it has been for the past few seasons.

The Arizona Cardinals have been catching more buzz as a Super Bowl favorite than almost any other team out there, which is crazy for a team that got demolished in last year’s NFC Championship game.  I’m not onboard the hype train for Arizona.  Carson Palmer isn’t getting any younger and we don’t know how good Tyrann Mathieu will be in returning from his second career ACL tear.  On paper, their defensive line is scary good, but how many Patriots players have worked well outside of Bill Belichick’s system and do we know if Robert Nkemdiche can actually live up the hype?

Hard Knocks with the LA Rams has lost my interest after about two episodes and with it goes my interest in the LA Rams as a franchise and LA football in general (until they open their new stadium, obviously).

The 49ers are struggling.  Like really struggling.  Blaine Gabbert is their starting quarterback as Colin Kaepernick (for better or for worse) has been more interested in social activism. Their defense has lost a lot of bodies to retirement in the past few seasons and they don’t have many offensive weapons for new head coach Chip Kelly to utilize.

I’m taking the Seattle Seahawks in a landslide in this division and I’m taking Russell Wilson has my 2017 NFL MVP.

NFC PLAYOFF SEEDING

  1. Seattle Seahawks
  2. Carolina Panthers
  3. Minnesota Vikings
  4. Washington Redskins
  5. Green Bay Packers
  6. Arizona Cardinals

 

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