This is Part 2 of my three week blog here at the CCB covering and predicting the 2012-2013 NFL season. This week I look at the conference that has held the last three Super Bowl Champions, the NFC conference. Can the NFC continue their trend of holding onto the Vince Lombardi trophy at the end of this season?
Like the AFC East & AFC West, I believe the NFC East to be one of the best and competitive divisions in Football. This division is so competitive that it takes a 9-7 or 10-6 record to win it all. When it comes to the NFC East there is at least three of the four teams that could be the division champion come the end of the season and no fan would be surprised.
Philadelphia Eagles (10-6):
New York Giants (9-7):
They are the defending Super Bowl Champions yet despite all that I don’t consider them nothing more then a 9-7 team in 2012-2013. But calm down Giants fans that was the same exact record from last year’s Super Bowl winning season. So no disrespect to the defending Champions but we know how hard it is to repeat in today’s NFL climate. The Giants aren’t built for a repeat season and if they some how do they will once again shock the Football world in doing so.
Dallas Cowboys (7-9):
As long as Tony Romo is under center in Dallas I don’t believe this team will reach an upper echelon plateaus for a team. Romo has reached his full potential and will never live up to the hype that many Cowboy fans believed he would be. I will be shocked if owner Jerry Jones doesn’t blow up this team at the end of this season. This includes a Jason Garrett firing and maybe release or trade of star QB Tony Romo.
Washington Redskins (5-11):
For the first time in a long time Washington Redskins fans have something to look forward to with Robert Griffin III being drafted as their quarterback. While it’s a huge upgrade for the Redskins it is something that won’t officially take place until a couple years from now. I think the Redskins will be competitive, I believe they could be a surprising team in the NFC but in this division I don’t see them being anymore then a 5-win team in 2012-2013.
The NFC North makes up another very competitive division in the NFL along with the AFC East, AFC West and NFC East. There are at least three teams that are playoff potential at this point in the start of the season and wouldn’t surprise you if they made Super Bowl 47 at the end of this season. Like those prior said divisions, if you are able to be dominant against division rivals you are in serious contentions for a Super Bowl or at-best, NFC Championship Game berth.
Green Bay Packers (14-2):
Up until the NFC Divisional Game loss to the New York Football Giants, the Packers were considered the best team in the NFL. The way they lost to the Giants in the playoffs was embarrassing and made the immortal team human yet again. To me, the Packers losing to the Giants were the best thing that could happen to this team that needed a wake-up call. If you think they had a good season last year imagine how they will be coming off of an embarrassing playoff loss like the one they suffered at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl Champions, can you say motivated?
Chicago Bears (10-6):
“Da’ Bears” were one of the best teams in the NFL up until the point Jay Cutler went down with an injury that would end his season. This is a big year for Lovie Smith, Jay Cutler and the Bears if they want to keep this current crew of a team together. Lovie Smith is on the hot seat in my opinion, the whispers of Jay Cutler not being a franchise QB are starting to get louder and there is growing concern that some players (i.e. Brian Urlacher) may be playing their final season in Chicago. It’s now or never time for the Chicago Bears.
Detroit Lions (9-7):
I think the Detroit Lions take a slight step backwards this season. I believe this to be true due to the amount of off-season problems this team faced as they had a tough time staying out of the sights of the law. Stafford is becoming more and more of the franchise quarterback that they hoped he would be but he needs a consecutive healthy season before we can show complete confidence in his ability. While I predict the Lions taking a slight step back this is still a team with a very bright future.
Minnesota Vikings (3-13):
Minnesota is a team that is in competition for a top 5 draft pick right now rather being a competitive playoff team at the moment. The Adrian Peterson injury hurts them at the moment and it will be interesting to see how much of an impact he plays this season for the Vikes. I believe the biggest question this season for the Vikings will be how Christian Ponder progresses as a starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. Is he the future or is he not?
The NFC South is a very interesting division this year with a ton of questions. Will the New Orleans Saints be affected by “bounty-gate?” Will the Carolina Panthers be able to build off of a surprising 2011 season? Can the Atlanta Falcons be that team that many people thought they would be? With a ton of questions heading into the 2012-2013 season, I have some answers on how it will be played out for each of these teams.
New Orleans Saints (12-4):
I don’t believe the New Orleans Saints will be truly affected by “bounty-gate” this season at all. Reason being is because their leader, Drew Brees, is under center and going to lead them out of that tunnel every Sunday. Brees is one of the best leaders in football, just behind Tom Brady, and if one player can pull a team through some like this it’s Drew Brees.
Carolina Panthers (9-7):
I do believe that the Carolina Panthers will be able to build off of their exciting 2011 campaign season this year and be very effective in doing such. Cam Newton will not see any affects of the “sophomore slump” this season but won’t have as good as numbers as he had last season due to the “book” being out on him. I like the Panthers as a team that can sneak into the NFC side of the playoffs this season as well, I like what is growing in Carolina.
Atlanta Falcons (8-8):
The Atlanta Falcons remind me a lot of the Dallas Cowboys entering this season; a ton of questions concerning their starting quarterback’s ability and the longevity of their current head coach. Those questions will loom the Atlanta Falcons for most of this season as I believe they continue to struggle to make it to .500. The ceiling has been reached for the Falcons under Mike Smith and I think at the season’s end it will be time for a new head coach at the helm for Atlanta.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12):
The Bucs were at one-time a surprise team that people really enjoyed watching play. Now they are a team that appears to be bottom-feeders in the NFC South for the next couple of seasons. Tampa Bay needs to continue making moves that can make them compete in this division, I would not be surprised that as time goes on they surpass the Atlanta Falcons in the South. But for right now, enjoy some top draft picks in the first round.
The NFC West is just like the AFC South, it’s one of the worst divisions in Football. There is not much competition and if you are the division winner you can slide your way into a wild card weekend bye in the playoffs. Look at the San Francisco 49ers last season, they struggled against “good” teams outside the NFC West but dominated their division rivals. It proved to be their Achilles heal in the playoffs last season and is a problem for any team walking out of the NFC West as Division champions.
San Francisco 49ers (11-5):
The 49ers were the most surprising team in Football last season. They won their division, knocked off the Saints in the playoffs and made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game. They have a top notch defense and need their offense to reach the same level if they can be Super Bowl bound at the end of this year. Without a doubt, the Niners are Super Bowl 47 contenders this season.
Arizona Cardinals (7-9):
I really liked this team being a surprising team in the NFC last season. I was obviously heavily disappointed. Really thought Kevin Kolb would be that answer to their offense but he clearly wasn’t as John Skelton even got some reps last season. The Cardinals will be successful, but only against the two other “bottom of the barrel” NFC West teams this season. Arizona needs a quarterback and one that can help make Larry Fitzgerald the Super Bowl winning type of player many fans believe he should & could be.
Seattle Seahawks (6-10):
St. Louis Rams (2-14):
What is there to say about the St. Louis Rams? They have a franchise type of quarterback in Sam Bradford, they have a decent young defense and they got a great head coach in Jeff Fisher. Despite all that this is a season where they are building towards the future and getting an idea of where the future could be heading under this current reign. Rams fans will eventually be excited again, but they may be watching them play in the Los Angeles Coliseum.
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