Here is Part II of the “Two Minute Drill” predictions, but this time the focus is on the NFC. In case you missed them, the AFC predictions are here.
The Dallas Cowboys, despite their shortcomings on defense, looked to have the best chance to win the division based on the strength of their offense. Well, now that Tony Romo will miss significant time, no one should bet on those odds. Yes, rookie Dak Prescott looked great during the preseason, but as everyone knows, preseason games do not count. By the way, the Cowboys were awful without Tony Romo last year.
The decision makers in Philadelphia thought starting a rookie quarterback was the answer as well. They traded Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings for draft picks. Hey, getting a first and a fourth round pick for Sam Bradford was a nice piece of work; however, future draft picks won’t help the team this year.
The Giants have the division’s most accomplished quarterback paired with the best receiver, but will Eli Manning have enough time to throw? Also, let’s just say that while Eli doesn’t deserve the mediocre label, he has gotten a lot of mileage out of two Super Bowl wins where his defense was the real MVP. Oh, and don’t forget the divine intervention helmet catch, either.
Well, someone has to win this division. Washington is the last team standing.
Blaine Gabbert will start for the San Francisco 49ers. No division winning season here. Wasn’t it just three years ago that they were a real contender?
Too bad the Rams can’t just play the Seahawks. Hey Coach Fisher, there are more teams in the league, and you might want to prepare for a few of the others. Anyway, let’s just pencil the Rams in for another 8-8 season, and Jeff Fisher will continue to keep his job.
The Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks are clearly the two best teams in this division. As long as Carson Palmer can stay healthy and distribute the ball to his talented wide receivers, the Cardinals will once again claim the division title. Seattle’s defense is a year older, but they should start the season better than last year as there are no Legion of Boom members holding out and missing games this year. To give Seattle the nod, one has to trust that Seattle’s offensive line will perform well enough to allow Russell Wilson time to actually stand in the pocket and deliver the ball. No one should count on this as that line needs some work.
Winner: Arizona Cardinals
Detroit Lions will not have Calvin Johnson this year. Hard to imagine they are any better than last year, and they weren’t good last year.
As much as I like Jay Cutler’s arm and how he tries to fit every ball in the smallest of windows, it’s over for him and the Chicago Bears.
Minnesota Vikings will start Sam Bradford. Green Bay starts Aaron Rogers.
Winner: Green Bay Packers
New Orleans extended Drew Brees’ contract. Congratulations. It was the right play to stay competitive; however, the Saints destiny this year is to fight to stay out of last place.
The Atlanta Falcons still have Julio Jones, but Matt Ryan needs to bounce back from a mediocre year for Atlanta to challenge the Carolina Panthers for the division. Atlanta is still rebuilding its defense. The best they can do this year is grab a wild card, and that is likely out of reach.
I’m all in on Jameis Winston this year. He’ll still make those head-scratching mistakes, but he isn’t afraid to throw the ball in tight coverage. Winston has the required confidence quarterbacks need. Mike Evans should continue to develop into a prime-time target; especially, in the red zone. Unfortunately, they are still a step or two behind Carolina.
Yes, it’s true that All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman left for Washington, but the Carolina Panthers still have one of the best front seven’s in the NFL. That front seven includes two great linebackers, Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. Oh, and last year’s MVP, Cam Newton, returns as well. Kelvin Benjamin should help spark the passing game. All of this adds up to Carolina winning the division.
Winner: Carolina Panthers