2012 NFL Preview: NFC

September 4, 2012

What is the point in starting the NFL season on a Wednesday night? Seriously, I can understand Thursday night. But Wednesday? Who even wants to stay up to watch the entire game other than hardcore fans of the teams playing? More importantly, how are all of the poor bloggers who don’t prepare to write their NFL previews in advance supposed to react?

As the veteran readers of Around The Corn are well aware by now, my NFL previews are not nearly as in-depth as my college football previews. This stems from the fact that I worked on Sundays for the past four years and never had time to watch a lot of regular season NFL action. Therefore, I wasn’t all that interested in the pro game. I no longer hold that job though, so I have a feeling that I will have an increased interest starting this season.

For now, however, the previews will continue to be pretty bare bones. Here is my 2012 preview of the National Football Conference.

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)

2. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)

3. New York Giants (8-8)

4. Washington Redskins (4-12)

Why They’ll Win

Vince Young (who is no longer with the team) referred to Philadelphia as a “Dream Team” last season, and you could say that’s where the Eagles’ bad luck began in 2011. This year, no one is making such outlandish predictions, and Philly should be all the better as a result. On paper Philadelphia still has one of the better offenses in the league even without a physical receiver, and the run defense should be more stout thanks to rookies Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry.

The Eagles were 5-1 against NFC East competition last year, and if they can do that again, this is their division to lose. Dallas will be on their heels, but until a division rival steps up, Philadelphia is the team to beat.

Keep An Eye On

New York

It will be very difficult for the Giants to repeat the success of last year, who struggled for the better part of the second half of the season before picking it up again in late December and reeling off six straight victories in route to a second Super Bowl win in four years. Assuming Dallas and Philly are competitive, it is imperative that New York doesn’t have a losing streak like the one they suffered through last season, or they could find themselves mathematically eliminated before the regular season ends.

Amidst all the concern, New York still has a strong defensive presence that will keep them in games. Whether they compete for a playoff spot will depend on the offense, which will have to replace Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham as well as find a way to get the ground game in general working more effectively. Eli Manning can’t take this team to the Promised Land by himself.

NFC West

1. San Francisco 49ers (11-5)

2. Seattle Seahawks (7-9)

3. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)

4. St. Louis Rams (4-12)

Why They’ll Win

Alex Smith may experience a slight drop off after a career year, but the offensive unit got better as a whole this past offseason. Mario Manningham joins what was already a talented receiving corps, and rookie receiver A.J. Jenkins should contribute immediately. Randy Moss is almost an afterthought at this point, but the 49ers have him, too.

The defense was one of the best in the entire league last season and it would be a surprise if it’s anything but that again this year. San Francisco is strong on both sides of the ball and plays in perhaps the NFL’s weakest division. As long as Alex Smith doesn’t completely regress, the 49ers will be back in the playoffs.

Keep An Eye On


The NFC West may be one of the weaker divisions in the NFL, but Seattle will attempt to prove that it is steadily getting better. Pete Carroll’s team will be led by a rookie quarterback in Russell Wilson, but may not take nearly as many lumps as you’d expect with a first-year quarterback. The offense was going to have issues anyway, and it’s the defense that will give the Seahawks a chance in most games this season.

If the plays well and the offensive line improves, Seattle has a shot at finishing the season at least .500. That probably won’t be enough to win the division, but it may be enough to snag a Wildcard spot. 

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers (14-2)

2. Chicago Bears (12-4)

3. Detroit Lions (9-7)

4. Minnesota Vikings (3-13)

Why They’ll Win

Green Bay fans have to anticipate a slight drop off after last season’s 15-1 record in which the Packers were not challenged much by their division rivals. Chicago will be better, and the Lions don’t appear to be going anywhere, either. In addition, the league’s worst passing defense in the league last season wasn’t tinkered with during the offseason, so expect the Packers to give up a lot of yards through the air once again. Clearly, that isn’t as big a deal when you have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.

Even with an expected drop off in number of wins, Green Bay looks like a pretty safe bet to make it back to the playoffs. They have the offense capable of outscoring every team on the schedule, including New Orleans and Houston.

Keep An Eye On


I think Chicago will experience a resurgence this season, which leaves Detroit on the outside looking in with regards to a playoff spot. Detroit is a dangerous team, however, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do make it back to the playoffs again this year. If Matt Stafford can stay healthy, the Lions offense is one of the best in the league and would give Chicago’s defense all it can handle. That is a big if, however. Stafford is injury prone, and 2011 was unusual for Detroit in that most of the key players stayed healthy all season.

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints (11-5)

2. Atlanta Falcons (10-6)

3. Carolina Panthers (8-8)

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)

Why They’ll Win

Drew Brees is perhaps the strongest leader in the league, and has the ability to keep his team composed even without head coach Sean Payton on the sidelines this season. The NFC South has gotten much better in recent years, but New Orleans is still king of the castle, and I don’t think either Atlanta or Carolina is talented enough offensively to sweep the Saints. A sweep is what would be necessary to have a shot at stealing this division from New Orleans, because the Saints will win most of their non-division games.

Even if the ship looks like it’s tipping, you’d be wasting your time waiting for it to capsize. Brees & Co. are still good enough to hold off the young guns in the division for at least another year.

Keep An Eye On


After the Falcons were unable to live up to the expectations of 2011, people have seemed to forget about them. There are concerns that the offensive line won’t allow Matt Ryan enough time to work, but Ryan is blessed with an extremely talented receiving corps that doesn’t need a lot of time to get open. In addition, Atlanta’s schedule features several teams with a less than stellar pass defense, meaning Ryan could look very good this fall.

Beware of this team, whom I believe many experts are sleeping on. I don’t think Carolina has surpassed the Falcons in this division quite yet.


Wild Card

Chicago (Wild Card) vs. New Orleans

Winner: New Orleans

Atlanta (Wild Card) vs. Philadelphia

Winner: Atlanta


New Orleans vs. Green Bay

Winner: Green Bay

Atlanta vs. San Francisco

Winner: San Francisco

Conference Championship

San Francisco vs. Green Bay

Winner: Green Bay

– K. Becks

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