The 2017 NFL Preview, Part Two

Here is part two of the NFL Preview, looking at every team in the NFC individually and projecting their record.

NFC East


Dallas Cowboys

Strengths: Offense

Weaknesses: Defense

It’s pretty straightforward with Dallas.

I loved Philadelphia this year, and still do as you’ll read soon, but the overturning of Ezekiel Elliot’s suspension is obviously massive to the Cowboys.  In a scenario of him being out six weeks, you were looking at a Cowboys team that had no defense and had Dak Prescott, due for a regression season, slinging it all over the field to dudes like Terrance Williams.

Now, the Cowboys have their offense back.  Zeke not only gives them 100 yards a game on the ground, but opens up that deadly play-action.  With Darren McFadden, you weren’t gonna be able to do that.

The Cowboys defense is still atrocious.  Taco Charlton has to step up on the defensive line or else they will be getting no pressure whatsoever (The David Irving suspension was the one that hurt them the most.  That dude is a beast.).  You know Sean Lee is gonna get hurt at some point, leaving them with a barrage of unknowns, including rookie Jaylon Smith, who I am rooting for so hard but can’t dump a ton of trust into after what he’s coming off of.  The secondary is the linebacking core 2.0, though rookie Jourdan Lewis could be a nice surprise.

Dallas will probably be fine, but if they slip, don’t be surprised.

Projected record: 12-4

New York Giants

Strengths: Linebacker

Weaknesses: Offense

I don’t get the Giants hype.

Do people realize they’re putting their faith in New York into Eli Manning, a non-existent running game, and Odell Beckham Jr.’s hamstring?

Their defense is good, but it’s not Denver’s, Baltimore’s or Jacksonville’s.  Their linebacking core has to step up.  We’ve seen flashes from B.J. Goodson, but they’ve been limited.  Aside from that, Jason Pierre-Paul and Oliveir Vernon on the same defensive line is terrifying, and they have one of the best secondaries in the league after Landon Collins showed the NFL what he could do; those skills of his were on full display in college.

The defense will have to carry them.  Eli Manning is three touchdowns or three picks every game.  They have a cluster of running backs who are much better used as complementary backs or out of the backfield.  They lack depth, which will be troubling if OBJ is hurt again or if Brandon Marshall’s age catches up to him.  I think Evan Engram might be awesome, but you can’t rely on him as your No.2 option in his rookie year.

The offensive line is still in poor shape; when you’ve signed D.J. Fluker to come in and compete you’re basically admitting defeat at that spot.  Their play certainly won’t help Manning.

I’m much lower on the Giants than most people, but their offense really didn’t get that much better, and their division is tougher than most (The NFC East is always a mess.  We have the conversation every year.  Every team is capable of going 11-5 and also capable of going 7-9.  But never above or below those win totals.  It’s gonna be just as mediocre as always).

Projected record: 8-8

Philadelphia Eagles

Strengths: Practically everything

Weaknesses: Lead running back

I’ve been high on this team for awhile now, but holy crap, upon closer examination, this team is really really good.

Most people’s concern is with Carson Wentz, and it’s understandable.  After coming out of the gate strong last season, his performance fell off later in the year.  There could have been two reasons for this.

One: All rookies struggle at some point.  Whether it’s one game or a long stretch, guys hit that spot.  He was so good early on that the inevitable rookie regression was due.  When it hit, it and the pressure clobbered him.

Two: He lacked a lead running back to rely on, which is an issue this season too.  But the Eagles minimized the concern over the offseason in two moves: 1) Alshon Jeffrey and a huge upgrade to their weapons in general.  2) They have running backs who are all extremely talented and all have multiple functions.

LeGarrette Blount could be a lead running back, but he’s got a lot of miles on him.  You can go to him in goal-line and 3rd down situations.  Darren Sproles is more of a receiver out of the backfield at this point.  Same with Wendall Smallwood.  Donnell Pumphrey was a beast in college and could turn into that guy, but you can’t totally depend on a rookie for that role.

These guys all contributing in smaller roles could help Wentz out greatly, but an injury or underperformance hurts that assessment quite a bit.

I believe Wentz will take a step forward.  The sophomore slump is a concern, but Wentz wasn’t that good last year anyways.  He certainly wasn’t Dak Prescott.  Wentz has plenty of weapons: Jeffrey is that No.1 option they needed.  Torrey Smith was a cheap flyer who can be a target downfield.  Nelson Agholor is still a TBD; I’m not sure what to expect, but he’s speedy and can be available in the slot.  Zach Ertz and  Brent Celek can be nice targets too.

If Wentz falters a bit, this defense has his back.  With Timmy Jernigan, Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox on the same defensive line, it’ll be hard for opposing teams to surpass 100 yards rushing in games.  The rest is just as good.  It’s hard to find a group better than Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham at linebacker.  The Ronald Darby trade was a heist.  Jalen Mills will turn out to be one of the biggest draft steals in awhile.  He was awesome last year as a rookie and will only get better.

Like every team in this division, 8-8 is the floor.  But the Eagles have more going for them than most.  That will drive their record up substantially.

Projected record: 11-5

Washington Redskins

Strengths: Weapons, Linebacking core

Weaknesses: Quarterback, occasional holes here and there

Washington has the potential to be really good.  But they’re only going as far as Kirk Cousins takes them.

Last year, it had the potential to be the playoffs.  But then this happened.

Cousins is fine.  He’s above average, but that doesn’t mean he should be paid like it. Cousins is the one guy who can have a great game or great year and then throw it away when it matters.  It’s incredibly frustrating to evaluate and has to be even more frustrating to Washington fans.

The Redskins are pretty talented.  They have a ton of weapons.  Jamison Crowder has become one of the NFL’s top big play guys.  Jordan Reed is a beast when healthy.  Terrelle Pryor is an interesting piece to have around; they’ll figure out multiple ways to use him, whether it’s downfield or in option-plays and wildcat formations.  Josh Doctson is not a lost cause whatsoever; he just needs to stay healthy.

Running back’s an interesting position.  I’m not sure how reliable and durable Rob Kelley is, but he’s at least good in short yardage situations.  I need to see it from Chris Thompson once more, but he seems promising.  And then there’s Samaje Perine, who probably goes in the 2nd or even first round in any other draft besides 2017.  He could turn into a lead back at some point.

They’ve got an underrated defense too.  There’s holes in spots, especially in the secondary, where Su’a Cravens’ possible retirement leaves them with Brashaud Breeland and Deshazor Everrett in starting roles.  However, Josh Norman and offseason addition D.J. Swearinger can help cover up those potential mistakes.  Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Brown and Ryan Anderson is a pretty nice linebacking core.  And don’t sleep on the defensive line; Jonathan Allen should’ve been a top five pick had he been healthy, and Ziggy Hood is fine in the trenches.

I’m gonna be really generous with this Washington team, because I think the rest of their talent can make up for whatever pickle Cousins puts them in.

Projected record: 10-6

NFC North

Chicago Bears

Strengths:  Ground and pound, Linebacking core, Competence 

Weaknesses: Weapons, Quarterback

I was genuinely surprised when looking over this team’s roster.  It’s in much better shape than I thought!

The big thing with the Bears:  While they may not be good, they’re at least competent.  The defense has some dudes: Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman are fine up front.  Leonard Floyd, Danny Trevathan and Pernell McPhee (Who’s turned more into a 4-3 DE) is a pretty nice trio in the middle.  The Bears will struggle with coverage, and need guys like Prince Anukamara to make a real impact, but they could be in worse shape back there.

The offense has more questions but also more potential.  Chicago can rely on the ground and pound game with Jordan Howard and an offensive line that’s not being talked about enough.  Cody Whitehair is a young stud at center.  The Josh Sitton signing from a year ago will continue to have a huge impact, and Kyle Long can still be good in pass protection.  I would though like to wish the Bears good luck with Bobby Massie.  I’m not sure who thought that was a good idea (Oh wait, I am sure who it was!  It was Ryan Pace!  Who else?).

The decision to take Mitchell Trubisky when Mike Glennon had just signed for $15 million a year still bewilders me, but at least the Bears have options and some hope at that position.  I’m not high on either, and honestly think this could be a train wreck two years from now, but at the moment the Bears have something to work with, and that’s what matters.

It will have them looking better than we expected at the end of the season.

Projected record: 6-10

Detroit Lions

Strengths: Quarterback, competence 

Weaknesses: Receiver depth, Linebacking core

The Lions aren’t bad, they just aren’t super good.

Their weapons are fine: Marvin Jones and Golden Tate are good receivers.  Jared Abberdaris might have a small role given their lackluster depth.  This is a make-or-break year for Eric Ebron, but Matthew Stafford can make him and all their weapons better.

Ameer Abdullah could be in for a big season rushing the ball behind an offensive line that looks its best in years, but he has to stay healthy for him to be more than a combo-back.

Detroit’s defensive front is pretty good.  Ziggy Ansah is a beast, and Haloti Ngata is still kicking it.  A’Shawn Robinson, a 2nd round pick in 2016, should improve and become a tough block.  Their linebacking core concerns me: The only guy they have that I am remotely excited/not worried about is Jarrad Davis, and he’s gonna go through the rookie struggle at some point.  Darius Slay has turned into a No.1 cornerback… he’ll have to be one to make this secondary relevant.

Matthew Stafford will have to have a MVP year for the Lions to make the playoffs, but his numbers alone can get the Lions to be somewhat average.

Projected record: 7-9

Green Bay Packers

Strengths: Practically everything

Weaknesses: Running back, Interior offensive line

The Packers don’t have many major concerns.  They’re extremely talented in practically every area.  Having Aaron Rodgers makes those guys even better.

The only concern on offense would be at the running back position.  I’m not really a Ty Montgomery believer, and their inability to run the ball last season really hampered them when the offense struggled.  It’s hard to forsee those issues happening again, but Montgomery isn’t the back I think people are hyping him up to be.  They do have some depth there though, with rookie Jammal Williams slated as RB2 on the depth chart.  He kicked butt in college, and went much lower in the draft than he should have.  He could see a surprising amount of carries.

Their offensive line is kinda weak up the middle, but Rodgers is one of the best scrambles in the league.  He’ll be fine.  Green Bay revamped their tight end spot in the offseason, bringing in Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks to give Rodgers some more targets.  Both are great pass-catchers, while Bennett can help pass protection schemes too.

Their defense filled holes pretty nicely over the offseason.  Ricky Jean Francois is still alright, and Kenny Clark, still 21 years old, is getting his chance to shine.  The secondary lost Micah Hyde, but the Packers have depth back there.  Last season was much more about injuries than lack of skill.  They’re counting on snaps from rookie Kevin King, one of the many Washington defensive backs that came out of the draft.  That dude is a baller.  He’ll step up.

The Packers division isn’t very good; matchups against Minnesota’s defense will be the only real issue.  Their schedule is very manageable, and there’s no way they’ll have the injury bug they did a year ago.

Projected record: 12-4

Minnesota Vikings

Strengths: Defense, Running back depth

Weaknesses: Quarterback, Interior offensive line, Validity 

Can you imagine how good this team would be with Teddy Bridgewater?

The Vikings have been on silent on his front, so it’s unreasonable to speculate about a return.  For now, the Vikings are still stuck with Sam Bradford.

They’ve done a good job of building an offense around him though.  The running game was nonexistent last season, so they went out and signed Latavius Murray and drafted Dalvin Cook.  We know what Cook can do: He’s a bullish rusher and can preform at the same quality as a receiver.  The Seminoles had sets where he was the outside receiver last season!  Murray can be more of a workhorse/heavy carry guy, though don’t be surprised if Cook ends up with more carries by the end of the year.

Their offensive line also got much better, which was part of their disasterous offense last season.  Mike Remmers was a steal for the price, and Riley Reiff is a solid left tackle.  Pat Eiflen is a rookie who you hope can make an immediate impact at center, but Joe Berger could be slid back if needed.

Minnesota has one of the best defenses in the NFL.  It’s terrifying.  A Danille Hunter, Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph led-line is a matchup nightmare for anyone.  They have stalkers at linebacker with Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, and their secondary might be top two (They’ve got ridiculous depth, too).

Bradford is the x-factor.  The defense will keep them in every game, but Bradford has to make plays for them to be really good.  They’ve added weapons, but we’ve seen only small flashes from Stefon Diggs and Adam Theilen.  These aren’t top 32 NFL receivers.  Laquon Tredwell needs to emerge this year, though I’m not sure Sam Bradford will be throwing to him if he’s more than 10 yards downfield.  Kyle Rudolph is the one consistent weapon he has, which is great for short gains.

The running backs really have to step up.  Chunk yards on runs are a necessity this season, because with Bradford, 3rd and longs result in punts every time.

Projected record: 9-7

NFC South


Atlanta Falcons

Strengths: Offense, Defense

Weaknesses: Mental state

You never know when it comes to hangovers.

(I have no experience)

On paper, Atlanta is the NFC favorite for the Super Bowl.  They’ve returned the same team with a defense that’s only getting better.

That same team could also be a problem.

It’s hard to underestimate what effect blowing one of the largest leads ever in the Super Bowl will have on a team.  The Championship/dream season hangover is something we see in sports all the time.  When things go right, the odds of it happening again drops.  When traumatic things occur, the thought never leaves your mind.

Thats the problem with this Atlanta team.

Look at title winners or title runner-ups in sports the past few years.  The Cubs haven’t been able to put it together this season after winning the 2016 World Series.  The Panthers went 6-10 last season after losing to Denver in the Super Bowl.  The San Francisco Giants were shells of themselves in practically every season after their World Series wins earlier in the decade.

The roster is one of a 12-13 win team.  But the NFC South is good, and the Falcons could lose a lot of games they shouldn’t.  I really think there’s something behind how that loss will affect them this year.  We can’t totally predict it now, but we have to consider it.

Projected record: 10-6

Carolina Panthers

Strengths: Defense, Running back

Weaknesses: Proven guys

Carolina has two things going for an offense that struggled immensely last year:

  1. An improved offensive line
  2. Plenty of weapons who can do multiple things

Cam Newton struggled last year for two reasons:  1) His offensive line couldn’t keep him protected, leading to injuries which were partly unluckiness.  2)  He didn’t have enough weapons.  Kelvin Benjamin was intermittent, and Ted Ginn, yes that Ted Ginn, was their 3rd leading receiver.  It wasn’t great.

Now Benjamin should be fully recovered from that ACL injury, Devin Funchess should improve, and Curtis Samuel is here.  Watch out for that dude.  He could have 60 receptions and seven touchdowns and I would not be surprised.

But relying on Funchess, Samuel, and a quartet of running backs who all have questions attached to them has risks.

I understood what the Christian McCaffrey pick was about:  Getting a young back who can grow into an every down role who’s just as gifted as a receiver.  Jonathan Stewart is always hurt, and Fozzy Whitaker and Cameron Artis Panye are more specialty-like guys.

I have my concerns about McCaffrey though… Whether he’s a NFL runner.  Whether he’s durable enough.  He’s no sure thing, and that’s a common trait on offense for the Panthers this season.

They have the defense to rely on.  It’s a ridiculously talented group.

Kawaan Short and Star Lotulelei on the same defensive line is a menace, but you can’t forget about the still effective Charles Johnson, oh, and Julius Peppers.  You best not forget about him.

Luke Kuechley and Thomas Davis are beasts at linebacker, and Shaq Thompson adds some versatility to the spot.  Thompson’s even more interesting this year; the Panthers have struggled to fill Josh Norman’s spot after his release last Summer.  Thompson can certainly help out in coverage.

Carolina will be good, but they have some serious issues that leave me resistant to project them above 10 wins.

Projected record: 9-7

New Orleans Saints

Strengths: Offensive line, Quarterback, Secondary

Weaknesses: Weapons, Validity

Like every team in this division, the Saints have the chance to be really good.  Drew Brees is still rocking it.  Mark Ingram is a force in the backfield.  Their secondary should be much better with rookie Marshon Lattimore being an instant upgrade.

But at the same time, the Saints have continuously let us down the past three seasons.  Either the defense fails, or their special teams has been a mess.  There’s been times where even Drew Brees can’t do anything.

That’s why I listed validity as a weaknesses.  What’s been proven about this team besides Brees?  Think of teams that we label as chokers…  the Saints are like the 4th team that pops into your head.   It’s killed them for awhile now.

This season could be different.  The defense is not atrocious.  Their defensive line is talented: Cameron Jordan, Sheldon Rankins and Alex Okafor is a nice group.  I’m not sure I like Manti Teo at middle linebacker, but Craig Robertson is good, and 2nd year guy Stephone Anthony gives them some versatility.

It’s not a defense you can totally trust, but it’s also not a defense you have to plan around… Plan around them giving up points every possession.

On offense, their talent is more limited than before.  Brandin Cooks is gone and was replaced with Ted Ginn, but when you have Drew Brees it may not matter.  Brees makes his receivers better; it’s why Michael Thomas broke out last year and why he’s in the top 15 on fantasy draft boards.  It also helps that he’s the No.1 target with Willie Snead suspended.  Coby Fleener is average, but Brees will get him the ball.  He just has to catch it.

The Saints have a beastly trio at running back.  As I mentioned above, Mark Ingram is a workhorse back.  The Adrian Peterson signing was a little weird, but if Ingram is taking beatings on 1st and 2nd down, you probably don’t want him out on 3rds either.  As long as AP stays healthy, he can be a nice 3rd down back who can occasionally be used in red zone passing plays out of the backfield.  Oh, and keep an eye on Alvin Kamara.  He could be someone two years from now and have us saying, “Who allowed Drew Brees to have that guy on his team?”

Again, New Orleans can be good.  The defense has to step up and not be bottom five in the league.  The Saints can score, and having that to lean on in two games against Atlanta, two games against Tampa Bay and meetings with the Packers and Patriots will be helpful.  But the 7-9 stink cannot be flushed out yet.

Projected record: 8-8

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Strengths: Weapons, Defense

Weaknesses: Running back

This division is so freaking good.

Tampa Bay has everything going for them:  A great defense, a ton of weapons, a QB entering his 3rd year (Which is a historically good year for most), and no defining weaknesses.

Though limited at running back as Doug Martin is serving a suspension, the Bucs have crafted a dangerous offense around Jameis Winston.  Getting DeSean Jackson was genius.  His speed and big play potential fits in perfectly with what Tampa is doing.  Mike Evans is a big downfield target, and rookie Chris Godwin from Penn State is a kinda a mix between the two.  They’re loaded at tight end, with Cameron Brate and rookie O.J. Howard, who’s gonna mow over dudes in the middle of the field.

The defense is just as scary.  Gerald McCoy is a bad man.  Chris Baker and Robert Ayers can still be very effective, and William Gholston has some nice moves on the outside.  Their linebackers are some of the best in the NFL.  The T.J. Ward signing was a blessing; their secondary wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t on the level that the rest of the defense was.

Tampa Bay is good, but if they want to be really good, a lot of that potential success hinges on Winston.  As good as he’s been, there’s still the interceptions to worry about, which is tied to his maturity.  The loaded receiving core will help, but Winston has to step up.  He’s been a winner before.  He knows what it takes.  This is the year he shows it.

Projected record: 11-5

NFC West


Arizona Cardinals

Strengths: Back seven, Running back

Weaknesses: Defensive line, Weapons

(Homerism possible)

We are not as good as I thought we were.

That’s the probably the case with most NFL fans and their teams, but this is Larry’s last year and

I should stop.  I’m whining now.

I’ve realized how worried I should be about Carson Palmer.  Our defense is still really good and can win us 7-8 games by itself, but Palmer was not great last season.  He’s now a year older, and probably and secretly seriously considered retirement this offseason, and has an uninspiring group of weapons.  Larry Fitzgerald is catching at least 70 balls; thats a given.  But John Brown is coming off of a tough year.  I’m not really sure what Jaron Brown is.  J.J. Nelson is extremely raw.  It’s a pretty sketchy group.  It’s not the group you need around a 37 year old quarterback who’s already a questionable decision maker.

That being said, the Cardinals have a running back who could still produce at 25 carries a game.  David Johnson is an alien.  An offense built solely around him and having Palmer throw only when he needs to combined with a defense that’s still extremely talented might work.  But 10 wins?  Not.

Projected record: 9-7

Los Angeles Rams

Strengths: Linebacking core, Um…

Weaknesses: Secondary, Reliable weapons, Quarterback

I don’t get the buzz/hope for the Rams.  This defense is good, but not great.  The offense is a total wildcard, with Jared Goff playing putrid football last year, Todd Gurley being non-existent, and a slew of unproven and/or injury prone guys.  Somehow, LA failed to get better.

They won’t have the defense to lean on either.  The Aaron Donald contract scenario was sorted out last night, but he’s still not playing Week 1, and might be out a couple more weeks as they get him into football mode.  That’s a huge blow to a group thats not as talented as some think.  Michael Brockers is a good pass rusher, but is much more scary when a double team is focused on Donald.  Their secondary is essentially Trumaine Johnson’s insane contract demand and Lamarcus Joyner in a new position.  However, Mark Barron can use his versatility to slide back and help out.  He’s a bit of a wildcard, but might be their 3rd or 4th best player on that end.

The linebackers are in good shape.  Robert Quinn adds some fury to the defensive line, but can also drop back and cover tight ends.  Alec Olgetree and Connor Barwin are quality players (Barwin was a steal from the Eagles…  I still don’t get that one.).

The positive news for LA is that Sean McVay is here to turn things around, the same guy who made Kirk Cousins elite average.  At this point, getting to Goff to average is a step in the right direction.  His receivers are a concerning group:  The overpay for always injured Sammy Watkins.  The other overpaid former Bills receiver Robert Woods.  Tavon Austin, who’s highs are high and lows are very low.  Whoever Tyler Higbee is.  Yeah, you see the problem.  They aren’t helping Goff.

I don’t think this is a defense can make up for Goff’s mistakes and poor receivers.  It’s probably in the 9-12 range in the league, which is good, but not automatic eight wins good.

Projected record: 6-10

San Francisco 49ers

Strengths: Front seven

Weaknesses: Offense, secondary 

It’s gonna take some real magic from Kyle Shanahan for the 49ers to be competent this year.

This offense is probably the 2nd worst in the league, depending on how you compare it to the Jets’.  You’re going nowhere with Brian Hoyer; he teeters on the bad/terrible scale.  Carlos Hyde is a talented running back, but he struggles with injuries, disappeared in games last year, and has no offensive line in front of him.  Pierre Garcon is your No.1 receiver, which is an issue for multiple reasons (1. Overpaid  2. No quarterback 3. He’s not good enough to be a No.1 anyway).  You’re counting on 50 receptions from Marquise Goodwin, who’s never even been a No.3 option in his career.  I’ve never heard of any of their tight ends, so that takes away a short range option.  It’s a mess on this side of the ball, and it’s a shame that with a defense so talented and promising, they can’t put something together.

This defensive line could easily be the best in football in two years.  With young big guys DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and rookie Solomon Thomas, the 49ers have a dominant front in their hands.  They’re also deep, with Earl Mitchell, Elvis Dumervil and Aaron Lynch serving as subs.

The linebackers add another dynamic.  NaVarro Bowman is a stud and Rueben Foster should have gone 15 picks higher than he did.

Cornerback is a big issue for San Fran, but safeties Jimmie Ward and Eric Reid are reliable for now.

Kyle Shanahan is an offensive wizard.  That being said, he’s probably not turning around Brian Hoyer.  But the 49ers have a plan, and for now, they’re just coasting until it fulfills (It may or may not be the QB who’s been mentioned way too much in this piece).  Hyde should see a large amount of carries this season, but beware when Hoyer drops back to throw.  It could be ugly.

Projected record: 5-11

Seattle Seahawks

Strengths: Quarterback, Defense

Weaknesses: Offensive line, Weapons (?)

Seattle’s biggest issue last season was health and offensive line play.  Neither got better.

The offensive line is just full of dudes who they brought in and said “Well, what about him here?”  It’s the ultimate makeshift offensive line.  It’s really incredible.

That, coupled with whatever is going on at running back, is the only real problem for the Seahawks.  But as we saw last year, they lost a lot of games they shouldn’t have due to it.

Part of that may have been due to Russell Wilson just never really being healthy.  You can’t expect the same injury luck (un-luck, really).  When Wilson’s 100%, he makes everyone around him better.  That’s why I have a question mark next to their weapons.  On paper, it’s not great.  Doug Baldwin is awesome, but Paul Richardson hasn’t been in a big role yet, and Tyler Lockett is a very one dimensional receiver who just streaks down the field every time.

But, if anyone’s gonna make the best of it, it’s Russell Wilson.  A running game that’s hopefully not as banged up will help, though I don’t know how they plan to differeinate carries.  Eddie Lacy is probably the 3rd down back, while Thomas Rawls gets most of the work and C.J. Prosise is used in short yardage situations and out of the backfield.

The defense doesn’t need a paragraph.  It’s freaking loaded, and now they have Sheldon Richardson, who they gave up a lot for, but will most likely pay off in that scheme.

Seattle’s season really hinges on health.  Wilson might take a beating, but at least he’s gonna be healthy this time around.

Projected record: 12-4


NFC Playoff Standings

  1. Green Bay Packers, 12-4
  2. Seattle Seahawks, 12-4
  3. Dallas Cowboys, 12-4
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 11-5
  5. Philadelphia Eagles, 11-5
  6. Atlanta Falcons, 10-6

Like I did in the NFC, the seeds and tiebreakers were sorted out by record first, then who I thought was the better team record aside second.  So essentially Green Bay > Seattle > Dallas.  The 6th seed came down to Atlanta and Washington, two teams who on paper are 10-6 but both have serious issues that I can’t get over.  Atlanta has the experience and the better quarterback, so I went with them.

NFC Division Standings


  1. Dallas Cowboys, 12-4
  2. Philadelphia Eagles, 11-5
  3. Washington Redskins, 10-6
  4. New York Giants, 8-8


  1. Green Bay Packers, 12-4
  2. Minnesota Vikings, 9-7
  3. Detroit Lions, 7-9
  4. Chicago Bears, 6-10


  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 11-5
  2. Atlanta Falcons, 10-6
  3. Carolina Panthers, 9-7
  4. New Orleans Saints, 8-8


  1. Seattle Seahawks, 12-4
  2. Arizona Cardinals, 9-7
  3. Los Angeles Rams, 6-10
  4. San Francisco 49ers, 5-11