2014 NFL Preview: NFC

September 4, 2014

The NFL season officially kicks off tonight, and chances are the game will nearly be underway by the time I finish this post. That isn’t a big deal to me, so as long as it’s not a big deal to all of you readers we should be okay.

My NFL previews are not as in-depth as my college football ones. Those of you who have been following the site for awhile are well aware of that. For those new to the site, just know that my NFL coverage generally comes in waves. I’ll do season previews, playoff previews and occasionally cover the draft. But anything beyond that should be viewed as a bonus.

I’ll stop the rambling, both for my sake and yours. Here is my preview of the National Football Conference.

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)

2. New York Giants (8-8)

3. Washington Redskins (8-8)

4. Dallas Cowboys (7-9)

Why They’ll Win

I found it funny when I picked up my Sports Illustrated off the table last week and found the cover proclaiming “Where did all the gunslingers go? The NFC East, that’s where.” I mean, sure, Eli Manning and Tony Romo are statistically two of the better quarterbacks in the league. But SI wasn’t talking about Manning. Rather, Philadelphia’s Nick Foles was on the cover and is getting a lot of attention since seizing the starting job in 2012. I think that the verdict is still out on Foles and I’m not sure that Chip Kelly will be able to sustain such a high level of success forever. But the NFC East has and will continue to be a jumbled mess for awhile, hence why I think three teams will finish at the top of the division. Philadelphia appears to have more balance than the rest of the teams here, so it’s a conservative pick in a wide open division. I’ll take the Eagles with the tiebreakers, but it would surprise me if this division didn’t come down to the final week of regular season play.

Keep an Eye On


The Redskins made moves in the offseason to give RG3 a bunch of targets to throw to, and that could pay off in a huge way. The only thing worse than Griffin needing to run around outside the pocket because he doesn’t know any better is him needing to run around outside the pocket because his receivers can’t get separation. That won’t be an issue this season as DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon should give the opposing secondary trouble while tight end Jordan Reed also presents matchup problems.

Washington is built to score a lot of points and give up a lot of points. That could turn into a lot of wins in this division, but only as long as Griffin improves. If he gets hurt or turns the ball over the Redskins will have trouble falling behind on the scoreboard thanks to a suspect defense.

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)

2. Chicago Bears (9-7)

3. Detroit Lions (8-8)

4. Minnesota Vikings (5-11)

Why They’ll Win

The Packers are a team that will struggle without Aaron Rodgers, but with him this team is poised to win the division for years to come. Green Bay has solidified its weak areas from a few years ago and should now be a real threat to make it to the Super Bowl in 2015. If Eddie Lacy can continue to improve upon his impressive rookie season, the offense will be one of the most dangerous in the entire league. Chicago is not a bad team by any stretch, but it looks as if there just isn’t enough in the cupboard for Jay Cutler & Co. to catch the Packers. Frankly, as long as Rodgers stays healthy I believe that this division is a battle for second place among the other three teams. The winner of that battle might snag a Wild Card spot, but it won’t dethrone Green Bay.

Keep an Eye On


As I alluded to in the previous section, I think that Chicago has a chance to make some noise this season. The offense was markedly improved last year, and assuming that the defense does a little better without all the injuries the Bears are a team that realistically could do some damage in the playoffs. No doubt Marc Trestman’s team thinks it is good enough to top the Packers, but even if that doesn’t happen the goal of doing so should land the Bears in a good place.

Expect this team to be in the playoff hunt near the end of the year. The offense has enough weapons to stay competitive and the defense should be better than in 2013.

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints (13-3)

2. Carolina Panthers (10-6)

3. Atlanta Falcons (8-8)

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-13)

Why They’ll Win

The Saints have the offensive personnel to return to being the most potent unit in the NFC. Kenny Stills and Brandin Cooks make a lethal tandem at wide receiver which Drew Brees will be able to take full advantage of thanks to their speed. Good luck to any team holding the Saints below 21 points this season, because the offense will quickly move up and down the field. The defense could be an issue at some point, but probably not enough during the regular season to prevent New Orleans from winning the division. I like Carolina and Cam Newton continues to impress me with his growth as a quarterback, but the Saints are going to be tough to beat. Carolina will need to play nearly perfectly on defense in order to stop the Saints on the road and I just don’t see that happening inside the Superdome.

Keep an Eye On


The Falcons lost a lot of momentum when Julio Jones went down for the season with a broken foot last year, so having him back should add on at least a couple of victories to the 2013 total. Matt Ryan is one of the most consistent and underrated quarterbacks in the league and every once in awhile you’re going to get a performance out of him that will result in a surprise victory. Simply put, this team can improve greatly upon its 7-9 record from last season. But the division is tough and both New Orleans and Carolina should be better as well.

Atlanta will be a stronger team than it was last season without Jones, but the quality of the rest of the division could mask that.

NFC West

1. San Francisco 49ers (12-4)

2. Seattle Seahawks (12-4)

3. Arizona Cardinals (7-9)

4. St. Louis Rams (1-15)

Why They’ll Win

This is a top heavy division, so expect the battle to be between San Francisco and Seattle. That’s it. I still believe that the 49ers are the strongest team in this division despite the Super Bowl champs currently residing in Seattle, but that’s a story for my playoff picture. San Francisco needs to get more consistency out of Colin Kaepernick. He is definitely good enough to be on par with Russell Wilson, but Wilson displays more balance than the 49ers signal caller and doesn’t make as many crucial mistakes. Such is life when you have a quarterback as athletic as Kaepernick, but the goal should be to get him to learn to let the athletes around him do the heavy lifting. There is plenty of talent on both sides of the ball in San Francisco, and as long as Kaepernick doesn’t plateau in his development this team should be near the top of the division for a long time.

Keep an Eye On


But of course you will. It’s almost silly to put the Seahawks in this section. However, since I believe that the 49ers will win the division by way of a tiebreaker, this is the way things have to be written. No one is going to underestimate Seattle, so there isn’t much to highlight here.

Just keep in mind that if the Seahawks win the division by more than a game, I’ll be surprised.


Wild Card

Carolina (Wild Card) vs. San Francisco

Winner: San Francisco

Seattle (Wild Card) vs. Philadelphia

Winner: Seattle


San Francisco vs. New Orleans

Winner: San Francisco

Seattle vs. Green Bay

Winner: Green Bay

Conference Championship

San Francisco vs. Green Bay

Winner: Green Bay

– K. Becks

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