Boy the NFL is real fun in the Summer isn’t it? If you ignore the unconscionable silencing of social justice efforts of NFL players (which is impossible to ignore) the time between the draft and training camp in August is agonizingly slow. The time is well occupied by the drama of the NBA and NHL playoffs but if you aren’t interested in either of those then things have been rough since April.
However, I got my official Real Ball Insiders shirt today (shameless plug) and felt motivated and inspired to pump out an article for the loyal readers we have acquired here. I have decided to predict the teams, and seeds, of the teams that I believe, will represent the NFC in the playoffs this year, and there’s truly no better time to do it than 103 days before the NFL season begins.
Number 1 Seed: Philadelphia Eagles
Homer pick? Maybe. I do know that this team won 13 games and the Super Bowl being the most injury-plagued roster in the world. I also know that the players on the 53 man active roster that watches the banner get raised in week 1 will be a better roster than the ones that won the trophy in February. Yes, they are playing a first place schedule, and yes repeating in the NFL is damn near impossible, but I believe this group is special and still the best roster in the NFL.
Number 2 Seed: New Orleans Saints
I love the New Orleans Saints. The way they have drafted to supplement Drew Brees after a couple of dreadful years has been superb. They are young and have perhaps the sourest taste in their mouths still from watching Stefon Diggs end their season. They also still have one of the best coaches in football and they will come out hot next season and should be more talked about.
Number 3 Seed: Minnesota Vikings
The Kirk Cousins signing by Minnesota was awesome. Case Keenum was okay for them, but now they have a real starting quarterback. This is a roster that I think is right up there with the Eagles and the Rams as 3 of the best 4 in the league, with the Jaguars being the other. Just like the Saints and Eagles, they have an incredible home field advantage and if they get the one seed, should find themselves playing in February.
Number 4 Seed: Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams have an explosive offense and could very well have the best defense in the NFL. So why do I have them this low? Its a combination of a couple of things. 1. The NFC is just THAT good. 2. The Rams have added a lot of new pieces, there will be a “feeling out” process early in the season I’d imagine. 3. The Rams were the healthiest team in the NFL last season. Law of averages says that something has to happen there. There are so many variables at play here that the Rams could start a bit slow, but they should still win the NFC West, this 4th seed seems like their floor.
Number 5 Seed: San Francisco 49ers
All aboard the Jimmy G express! After the quarterbacking clinic he put on at the end of last season, he is the player I am most looking forward to watching this year. After fortifying their offensive line with Mike McGlinchey in the first round and signing Richard Sherman, I think this team has very real playoff aspirations this season. They also have the benefit of playing a last place schedule this year, which will be an extra benefit for them when comparing them with the Rams. Outside of the Rams, the NFC West is not a good division, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they win the division.
Number 6 Seed: Green Bay Packers
This isn’t a particularly good roster. But when Aaron Rodgers is healthy they can play with anyone, as he is that much of a difference maker. There is a reason that they have the 6th best Super Bowl odds this year. They are another team being slept on because of a tough season largely without Rodgers, but they can make a serious run at Minnesota for the best team of the NFC North, even with a lesser roster.
Close but No Cigar
The NFC is so good that I wouldn’t even be surprised to see some teams that I don’t have in the playoffs making a run at the conference title. Specifically the Falcons and the Panthers. I also really like the direction the Chicago Bears are moving in and am excited to see Mitch Trubisky take that next step with Allen Robinson. They are still another year away, however.
This year is going to be crucial for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well, a team that was the trendy playoff pick last year and came up far short. This could very well be Dirk Koetter’s last year if things don’t go well.
The teams that I think are most balanced when you look at youth, coaching, defense, running game, and quarterback play to compete at a high level in the playoffs are the Saints, Eagles, and Rams. I think ultimately the Vikings come up short when they have to go on the road in the playoffs.
I have the Saints beating the Eagles in the NFC Championship game this year. As I stated earlier, it is incredibly difficult to make it to the Super Bowl in consecutive seasons. It just feels like it is meant to be for the Saints this year. A disappointing end to last season, one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, an opportunistic defense, great running game, and elite youth may lead them to taking that next step. I believe we will finally get a Drew Brees–Tom Brady Super Bowl in 2019.