2014 NFL Preview and Predictions: NFC

To come up with these predictions I simply predicted the winner of every game on the 2014 NFL schedule. These are not rankings of how good I think teams are. We all know the schedule plays a huge part with what teams make the playoffs.

Please note: I did these predictions before the pre season started. Injuries and struggles were not taken into factor.


NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles, 10-6
2. Washington Redskins, 10-6
3. Dallas Cowboys, 7-9
4. New York Giants, 7-9

Even though I predicted one team to finish in first place and another in last, this is the only division in football where you could make a case for these four teams finishing in any order. None of the four are great, but all four have talent and experience and recent playoff experience (except Dallas, who stops playing football in December). The Redskins might have the most balanced roster in the division. DeSean Jackson's non Chip-Kelly-system performance does not match the headaches, but he is a clear upgrade opposite Pierre Garcon. Throw in Jordan Reed and Alfred Morris, and it is up to Robert Griffin III to make a significant improvement in year three. He has quite a bit of talent around him. Speaking of offense, the Cowboys will only be able to field a competitive starting lineup on that side of the ball. The defense was historically bad, and with potential career ending injuries to DeVonte Holloman and Sean Lee, it could be even worse. Tony Romo catches more flack from media and fans than any other NFL player, but the Cowboys wouldn't sniff .500 without him. Few quarterbacks in NFL history have multiple Super Bowl rings on their resume, but Eli Manning was absolutely terrible in 2013. The Giants ignored bigger needs to give him more offensive weapons, but the regression may be here to stay. Everyone thought Michael Vick was a perfect fit for Chip Kelly's new offense, but Andy Reid draft pick Nick Foles took the job and ran with it. Regression from Foles should be expected and DeSean Jackson will be missed but the offense is system based and should continue to operate smoothly, especially with MVP candidate LeSean McCoy entering his prime.

NFC North

1. Chicago Bears, 12-4
2. Green Bay Packers, 12-4
3. Detroit Lions, 10-6
4. Minnesota Vikings, 3-13

There are going to be quite a bit of points scored in the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford could all finish with the top five passing attempts in the entire NFL. As we saw last year, the Packers will go as far as Aaron Rodgers will take them. Eddie Lacy was quite a find and could already be the best Packer running back since Ahman Green. The defense will still struggle, as Green Bay has failed to draft well on that side of the ball. The Bears may have the best pair of wideouts in the league. Alshon Jeffery has Pro Bowls in his future, and has quickly developed into the player who was once considered a top ten draft pick. Chicago retooled the defense with draft picks and veteran free agents. The Lions may throw more than anyone. Detroit added Eric Ebron and Golden Tate to help take some pressure off Calvin Johnson. Stafford could shatter the NFL record for passing attempts, especially if the defense fails to stop opposing offenses again. The Vikings, who are yet again breaking in a rookie quarterback, are destined for the cellar. Adrian Peterson could be this generation's Barry Sanders. The best running back for years who toils away on bad teams.

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints, 12-4
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8-8
3. Atlanta Falcons, 7-9
4. Carolina Panthers, 6-10

As long as the Saints have Drew Brees and Sean Payton, they are a pretty safe bet for double digit wins. With a defense that has become much improved to the point you can call them "average", the NFC South is New Orleans to lose. After years of failing to develop a decent defense or offensive line, the Falcons finally fell off the edge of a cliff. The Falcons did not have nearly enough draft picks to fill a ton of holes, and this roster is not much better than the 2013 version. It will be up to Matt Ryan and his great receiver duo to put up a ton of points. Steven Jackson is toast and Tony Gonzalez finally had enough. The Greg Schiano era was a disaster in Tampa Bay, just like the Raheem Era before that. Hopefully respected veteran coach Lovie Smith can bring some professionalism to Tampa. The Bucs went on a huge free agent spending spree, but hit up the bargain bin for Josh McCown, who had a great few games when plugged into Marc Trestman's QB friendly system. Expect him to become Josh McCown again. The Panthers are the most popular pick to regress this year, and it is easy to see why. First, Ron Rivera is a bad coach who had one foot out the door before the Panthers went on a crazy run in 2013. Second, cap decisions (like spending tens of million dollars on running backs, the most disposable position in football) has left giant holes at receiver, offensive line and the secondary. The Panthers have one of the best front seven's on defense, however, and should remain competitive.

NFC West

1. Seattle Seahawks, 13-3
2. San Francisco 49ers, 9-7
3. St. Louis Rams, 8-8
4. Arizona Cardinals, 4-12

It has been very entertaining to see the evolution of this current Seahawks team. Since Pete Carroll came in, this team has been built almost flawlessly. Now they have talent and depth all over the place. It is hard to see a better team in the NFL than Seattle, who are nearly unbeatable at home. As long as they have home field advantage in the playoffs, I cannot pick against them to win their second straight Super Bowl. The 49ers are still very talented but I could see regression. Hopefully Jim Harbaugh can ignore the off the field stuff surrounding his relationship with management. On the field, Colin Kaepernick needs to step up and earn his fat new contract, especially with Frank Gore nearing the end of a very good career. It seems the Rams have had 50 first round picks the past five years. Greg Robinson should really help shore up the offensive line, but I still have trouble seeing this team win more than 8 games. It is put up or shut up time for Sam Bradford. I have no team falling off record wise more than the Cardinals. I really like Bruce Arians as a coach, but he might not have enough magic to get one more decent year out of Carson Palmer. There is talent on offense, but the defense will have to overcome the losses of Daryl Washington, Karlos Dansby and Darnell Dockett. In the brutal NFC West, that may be too much to ask.


Playoff Predictions

1. Seattle Seahawks
2. Chicago Bears
3. New Orleans Saints
4. Philadelphia Eagles
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Detroit Lions

NFC Wild Card

New Orleans over Detroit
Green Bay over Philadelphia

NFC Divisional

Chicago over New Orleans
Seattle over Green Bay

NFC Championship

Seattle over Chicago

Super Bowl

Seattle Seahawks - 26
Pittsburgh Steelers - 10

Jonathan Carrano

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