2013 NFL Preview: NFC

September 4, 2013

You’ve seen the AFC preview by now. If you haven’t, take a look.

Here is my 2013 preview of the National Football Conference.

NFC East

1. Washington Redskins (10-6)

2. New York Giants (9-7)

3. Dallas Cowboys (7-9)

4. Philadelphia Eagles (5-11)

Why They’ll Win

One of the best offenses in the league should be complimented with a much better defense than the one the Redskins put on the field for the majority of the 2012 season. With Brian Orakpo back from an injury that sidelined him for all but one game last year, the Redskins should be much better at preventing quarterbacks from having all day to throw. Washington will need to have a better defense in 2013 if the team expects to make a return trip to the playoffs, because teams will have a plan for Rg3 and it’s safe to say that at least a few teams will be looking to hit him on every play. The offensive output could experience a slight dip, but it won’t be a crushing blow if the defense picks up the slack.

Despite Kirk Cousins proving to be a very serviceable backup, the Redskins will go as Robert Griffin III goes. Alfred Morris will serve as thunder to Griffin’s lightning, but fans in Washington need to pray the team handles RG3 correctly. If they do and he remains healthy, this team should be back in the playoffs this season.

Keep An Eye On


Why should you keep an eye on the Eagles? Well, as I’ve been saying to my roommate for the past 24 hours, “it’s all part of the mystery…”. No one really knows what to expect with Chip Kelly as head coach of Philadelphia. His four BCS bowl appearances in as many seasons as head man of the Oregon Ducks would suggest that he has a knack for getting the most out of his players. But the NFL is a totally different animal compared with college football, and success hasn’t always greeted coaches making the jump to the next level.

However, Kelly has been noted as a player’s coach, and that could serve him well in the City of Brotherly Love. He doesn’t appear to have a whole lot in the cupboard to work with, but Kelly will likely employ an entirely different offensive system. Perhaps the players he has will work for him.

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers (11-5)

2. Chicago Bears (9-7)

3. Minnesota Vikings (6-10)

4. Detroit Lions (5-11)

Why They’ll Win

I know it sounds hard to believe thanks to what we’ve gotten used to out of Aaron Rodgers the past several seasons, but Green Bay should be much better offensively than in 2012. The wide receivers are healthy and happy, and the addition of running back Eddie Lacy out of Alabama should give the Packers more of a punch in the ground game. The record heading into January may not indicate it, but Green Bay should be much more of a threat in the playoffs than it was this past season. 

As long as the Packers split the games with the division rivals (and it wouldn’t be surprising if they were able to do better than that), the competition won’t be good enough to top Rodgers & Co. this season. Another trip to the playoffs seems like a safe bet in 2013.

Keep An Eye On


Regression for the second straight year isn’t likely for a Lions team that finished 2012 a disappointing 4-12, but most people still aren’t expecting much out of the boys from D-town. However, if the Lions can find a way to improve the porous secondary, they might be a tough W for every team they face. Having Reggie Bush on the offense should take some pressure off of Calvin Johnson to be the only playmaker on the offense, and some variation offensively isn’t something that opposing defenses had to worry much about against Detroit in 2012.

This probably isn’t a playoff caliber team thanks to the strength of the division, but the Lions do have the opportunity to sniff .500 if the defense shapes up. Matthew Stafford isn’t just a nice fantasy asset; he’s a quarterback capable of elevating this team given the right pieces around him.

NFC South

1. Atlanta Falcons (13-3)

2. New Orleans Saints (11-5)

3. Carolina Panthers (8-8)

4. Tampa Bay (6-10)

Why They’ll Win

In a battle between who has the better offense, the Atlanta Falcons will still beat the New Orleans Saints this year. That is why the Falcons will once again win the NFC South over the Saints, who will definitely be back thanks to the return of head coach Sean Payton. Defense will still be a concern for Atlanta, who must find a way to get better pressure on the quarterback in 2013. The Falcons were 28th in the league in sacks, and cut their best pass rusher in John Abraham in the offseason.

Still, there isn’t a better receiving duo in the league than Julio Jones and Roddy White, and any team that faces the Falcons must not only find an answer for stopping them, but also for containing new running back Steven Jackson. The former Rams stud will give the Falcons even more offensive power, as if they needed any. This is a good league, but the Falcons are a very good team.

Keep An Eye On


Remember last season when some people were predicting that the Panthers would be a Super Bowl contender? Well, I wasn’t biting, and it turned out that Cam Newton had a very difficult year and the team chemistry wasn’t that great, either. But now, I’m ready to at least accept that Carolina could be a thorn in Atlanta’s side thanks to a strong defense. The Panthers finished the 2012 campaign on a 5-1 tear, and at least statistically they were in the top half of the league on both sides of the ball.

Some are saying that this is a make or break year for both head coach Ron Rivera and Newton. If the former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback grows up and starts to act like a team leader, the talent is there for this team to be pretty good. But that’s a big if; Newton has been pampered for as long as he’s been in the national spotlight, and a little bit of talent alongside him hasn’t necessarily changed him for the better in the past.

NFC West

1. San Francisco 49ers (13-3)

2. Seattle Seahawks (11-5)

3. St. Louis Rams (6-10)

4. Arizona Cardinals (4-12)

Why They’ll Win

Both San Francisco and Seattle spent the offseason trading places as the pundits’ favorite team in the entire NFC. Thanks to a superior offseason, the 49ers are my pick to come away with the division crown at the end of the year. Anquan Boldin could not have gone to a better team considering his age. He will be a great mentor to some of the young receivers that must fill the void left by the injuries to Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, who will not return until the middle of the season at the earliest.

On the defensive end, the 49ers chose to give up experience for youth, snagging safety Eric Reid with their first round pick in this year’s draft. While Seattle may look better out of the gate for this reason, chances are San Francisco will be humming on both sides of the ball by the end of the regular season. I have a lot of confidence in the 49ers again being a threat to win the Super Bowl.

Keep An Eye On


It’s not going to be a surprise if the Seahawks make the playoffs this season. What I’m more interested in seeing is whether the defense can live up to the hype that the media has created. Seattle is going to have a solid defense, but will they be able to get adequate pressure on opposing quarterbacks? The Seahawks were tied for 18th in the league in total sacks during the 2012 regular season, and they lost defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to Jacksonville. Former Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will take over Bradley’s responsibilities and will have a lot to live up to.

This is a team to keep an eye on not because they could surprise people with how good they are, but because they have the potential to struggle more than most people think is possible. The Seahawks are a chic pick to reach the Super Bowl; first, let’s see how they do within their own division.


Wild Card

Seattle (Wild Card) vs. Washington

Winner: Seattle

New Orleans (Wild Card) vs. Green Bay

Winner: Green Bay


Seattle vs. San Francisco

Winner: San Francisco

Green Bay vs. Atlanta

Winner: Green Bay

Conference Championship

Green Bay vs. San Francisco

Winner: San Francisco

If you’ve read both my AFC and NFC previews, then you know that my Super Bowl prediction is San Francisco vs. Denver (very risky, huh?). Disagree with my picks?

Don’t care. Start your own blog, then.

No, I’m just kidding. I actually fully expect some disagreement, and I’d like to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment on Around The Corn’s Facebook page, or tweet me @KBecks_ATC. You could even send me an email if you have any ideas of how I can incorporate more NFL coverage into the blog this season. But hey, before you go, check out my Super Bowl XLVIII prediction.

Super Bowl XLVIII

San Francisco 49ers (NFC Champion) vs. Denver Broncos (AFC Champion)

Winner: San Francisco 49ers

– K. Becks

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