We Gon’ Make It ? Part II NFC

Posted: August 28, 2012 by centennialsports in Pigskin

By: John Spurr

Isn’t training camp wonderful? Every team has a revamped roster, playoff aspirations and beautiful new cheerleaders. It’s a brilliant time of the year to be a fan of any team. Heck even the preseason helps to grow that positive outlook, with rookie quarterbacks carving up second-string defenses and first year coaches looking like they know what they’re doing. Don’t worry though after the initial madness of week one and two things will settle down and the teams will begin to separate.
Assuming that some teams are locks to make the playoffs let’s break down what needs to happen for some of the fringe teams to make it into the postseason. For the purpose of this exercise let’s assume that the Packers, Saints and 49ers will make the playoffs. That leaves three spots open including whoever wins the highly competitive NFC East.

NFC East – This division is one of the tightest divisions in football with four teams with tough defenses, three talented quarterbacks and one rookie quarterback who used to be a track star. This division is always decided in the last few weeks of the season as all four teams tend to beat each other up. The interesting aspect of this season is that the NFC East and NFC South both play each other in cross over divisional play. The NFC South is also a very strong and unpredictable division and essentially the NFC Wildcards will be decided by the way that these NFC East vs South games end up.

New York Giants
The defending Super Bowl champs are as deep and talented as they have ever been and are probably a better team than they were last year. Remember though that last year the Giants lost twice to the last place Redskins and were a Miles Austin catch away from the missing the playoffs. The 9-7 Giants turned it on in the playoffs en route to spoiling another Boston Tea Party but they weren’t an exceptional regular season team.

Will Make Playoffs if: The ultra deep D-line can produce consistently throughout the season and Eli Manning stays ELIte and doesn’t throw 25 interceptions like he did two seasons ago. Having Prince Amukamara develop into a top calibre cover corner, would take their defense to the next level. Rookie running back David Wilson teams with Ahmad Bradshaw to give the Giants a talented and versatile backfield.

Will Miss Playoffs if: Injuries derail the D-line and the O-line can’t protect Eli enough to get the ball to his skilled receivers.

Likely – I think the Giants are the class of the division and will win the NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have the most talented defense in the division, which says a lot considering the amount of defensive talent in the NFC East. It literally all hangs on Michael Vick’s shoulders, the talent is around him on both sides of the ball.

Will Make Playoffs if: Vick stays healthy for 14+ games and the defense delivers on their considerable promise. Nnamdi and DRC are able to perform much better in their traditional defined roles as cover corners. Lesean McCoy is able to continue eluding defenders like Barry Sanders and give Vick a dangerous checkdown weapon.

Will Miss Playoffs if: Vick misses significant time. The defense can play as good as they want, they’ll still have no chance. The offensive line struggles to protect the enigmatic quarterback and isn’t able to open holes for McCoy. The Eagles don’t find a consistent red zone threat with a rather small receiving corps.

Likely: I love this teams defense but I don’t think that they can survive without Vick and I don’t think he can survive the season.

Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys always have such a great team on paper and this year is no different. Both sides of the ball have potential superstars at almost every position. Unlike last season though the strength of this team may be on the defensive side. With preseason injuries to Miles Austin, Jason Witten and Dez Bryant, Tony Romo must be wondering why the cowboys elected not to pay Laurent Robinson.

Will Make Playoffs if: The injuries are just an early season issue and don’t linger throughout the year. The pass rush improves thus helping the secondary, which also improves. The offensive line comes together despite having serious questions with the interior.

Will Miss Playoffs if: If the injuries concerns continue and their Oline play doesn’t improve. Struggles at the safety position continue to haunt this talented defense. Pass rushing support across from Demarcus Ware doesn’t appear, as Anthony Spencer continues to struggle, having never put up more than six sacks in a season.

Likely: Are competitive in the division but don’t quite sneak into the big dance.

Washington Redskins

Make the playoffs if RG3 is better than Cam Newton

Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears have finally decided to surround one of the most talented qb’s in the league with some actual receivers, what a novel idea. The last time Jay Cutler played with Brandon Marshall both of them went to the pro bowl. This season their offense should be much more dangerous with Cutler throwing to Marshall, rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey and the freshly paid Matt Forte. The defense is aging but should still be solid with several standout players including the freakish Julius Peppers.

Will Make Playoffs if: The age of the defense doesn’t catch up to them this year and the offense plays the way a lot of people are expecting. Oline play should dictate whether or not this is the case. A big play from Devin Hester here and there could be the difference between a 10 win playoff team and 9 win team on the outside looking in.

Will Miss Playoffs if: The defense begins to drop off and the oline doesn’t play well enough for Forte and Cutler to be effective. There are rumours that Brian Urlacher’s knee is actually quite mangled and the Bears have even considered cutting him. If this was the case it would be completely demoralizing to the defense.

Likely: The Bears veteran defense continues to get it done and the Cutler- Marshall-Forte triplets make for a dynamic attack.

Detroit Lions
Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you the Peyton Manning Indianapolis Colts 2.0. When Manning drove the ship in Indy, everyone always wondered why they didn’t try and improve their putrid secondary. Instead the Colts drafted more offensive talent and pass rushers because their plan was to outscore you and then harass your qb. This is the new Lions model for their franchise. With pundits screaming to fix the secondary the Lions drafted offensive tackle Reilly Reiff and another receiver in Ryan Broles to aid Matt Stafford’s ascension to elite status. They are going to score on teams and then pin their ears back and rush the passer.

Will Make playoffs if: Their key offensive players stay healthy and the pass rush remains strong. Solid seasons from trouble-makers Nick Fairley and Mikel Leshoure would make this team very strong.

Will Miss Playoffs if: The Madden Curse strikes and Calvin Johnson is injured, an injury to Stafford would have the same effect on this team’s chances.

Likely: The Lions have a top 5 offense and outscore a lot of teams. This team is playoff bound and that means that the NFC North sends three teams to the playoffs, mark it down.

Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons have made the playoffs the last 3 years but have yet to win a game with Matt Ryan at the helm. They have surrounded him with very talented weapons and the offense will now look to pass first. This season rides entirely on the sharpness of Matty Ice’s haircut. The defense didn’t change much this offseason and should be solid but not spectacular. They should have a good secondary but the linebackers and d-line leave something to be desired. The oline that was once a major strength of the team is now somewhat questionable.

Will Make Playoffs if: Matt Ryan delivers on the considerable talent that Mike Mayock and other analysts gush about all day long when discussing the young signal caller. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon continues to improve in his second season and becomes the defensive star. The talented secondary frustrates opposing quarterbacks. John Abraham is able to drive his wheelchair past offensive tackles to the tune of a ten-sack season.

Will Miss Playoffs if: The conversion from a ball control, run first offense to an aerial attack is not as smooth as anticipated. The loss of Curtis Lofton at middle linebacker hurts the defense more than expected and the undersized defense can’t stop the run.

Likely: The Falcons have an explosive offense like they hoped but end up losing too many games due to their very difficult schedule, which includes games against the NFC East.

Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton!!! No seriously if you missed last season this phenom had the greatest quarterbacking season by a rookie in NFL history and that was just the passing part, he also rushed for a qb record 14 touchdowns and 700 yards. This has catapulted Carolina into the stratosphere of must see teams after being a rather bore for some time. This season the Panthers look to shore up their defense and help Newton get better. Drafting linebacker Luke Kuechly will give the panthers a defensive quarterback for the next decade. The arrow is pointing squarely up for the Panthers but it may be a year or two early for the Panthers to be considered a real threat.

Will Make Playoffs if: Newton is completely unstoppable and Steve Smith is able to turn back the clock for another season. A significant improvement would be required from the defense, mostly coming from the pass rush.

Will Miss Playoffs if: Newton regresses and his weapons aren’t able to perform as well as they need to. The pass rush does show the necessary fierceness to lead a modern defense and the secondary is hung out dry.

Likely: The Panthers will be a lot of fun to watch this year led by Cammy Cam and a trio of talented running backs. It seems unlikely that they’ll be able to emerge from the always chaotic NFC South, I’d say they are two years away from the playoffs.

Seattle Seahawks
The often-overlooked birds have quietly put together a very strong defense under Pete Carroll. Many analysts around the league claim that Seattle has the league’s best secondary and in the new age of passing and nothing else, that is a major feather in the hawks cap. They boast speed, strength and athleticism at every defensive position on the field and they will be a top seven defense this season. Carroll has shaped the offense to be run a first team but that was until the emergence of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson has defied the critics at every level and according to league sources is a special quarterback, he may be able to energize Seattle enough to get them into the playoffs.

Will Make Playoffs if: Russell Wilson is able to add the passing component to the Seattle offense and develops a rapport with Sidney Rice. Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin give them give a formidable running back tandem that eases the pressure on Wilson . Finally, the defense plays as well as people are expecting and are able to get turnover and give Wilson some short fields to work with.

Will Miss Playoffs if: The young rookie signal caller struggles the way that many do, turnovers could kill this team as they are not explosive enough to outscore people. Marshawn Lynch doesn’t run the way he did last year after getting a nice juicy contract. Sidney Rice has injury issues and is the uninterested and ineffective pass-catcher that he was last year. Significant injuries to the defense are about the only thing that could stop this group from being awesome.

Likely: The NFC has too many strong teams and the Seahawks and their rookie signal caller don’t have the offensive pop to win enough games. Seattle will come up just short of a wildcard birth.

There is no doubt that this is the way that the NFC will play out but the beauty of sports is that the only thing that matters is the scoreboard at the end of the game. Football season is 8 days away, or a time of the year I prefer to call “The Night Before Christmas.” Can’t Wait !!!!

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