It’s June. It’s hot as hell (especially in Texas where I live) and football is still too far away. While we wait out the dog days of Summer for Fall and the glorious return of football, we will speculate…and then speculate some more. Today, we give the “Way Too Early” Playoff Predictions for the NFC. Tomorrow’s column will showcase the AFC.
Based on the following teams, I’ve already picked San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, and Green Bay to make the Playoffs. Which two teams capture the final two spots?
Good talent. Good team. The issues stem from injury prone, unproven QB with a new head coach on the sidelines. That equation spells trouble for Chicago in a loaded NFC North.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers had the worst pass defense in the NFL last season. They beefed up the secondary this offseason with the signing of Dashon Goldson and stealing Darrelle Revis from the Jets for a 2013 first round pick and a conditional 4th round pick (that will most likely become a 3rd round pick) in 2014. The Bucs will make the playoffs if Josh Freeman can play up to his potential. Which Josh Freeman we see will most likely determine Tampa Bay’s playoff fate.
The Cowboys were banged up on defense last year. With a stacked core of linebackers, a more stable running game with the addition of fifth round selection Joesph Randle, and a more than capable receiving corps, Tony Romo has no more excuses to get this team to the next level. Also, expect Dez Bryant to drop jaws this year. In fact, I’m ready to ruin all my credibility by going on record that the Cowboys will not just make the playoffs, but will take the NFC East. Like the last few seasons, the NFC East will come down to the last game of the season. I think the Cowboys control their own fate and finally beat a lackluster Eagles team to return to the postseason for the first time since 2009. Wow…didn’t take long for me to regret that decision…
New York Giants
The Giants either fall apart or get hot right in time to become Super Bowl Champs. The schedule isn’t so friendly to the New York “football” Giants in 2013 mostly because their tough games are clumped together. They start the season on the road in Dallas and then Eli travels home to face his brother’s Broncos. Then, the Giants have a five week stretch where they face the Packers, Cowboys, Redskins, Chargers and Seahawks. The Redskins and Chargers match-ups are on the road, so they’ll fly back-and-forth to the west coast in the middle of that stretch. Still, the Giants have proven they can hang around until the final week. Like I stated previously, I think the NFC East comes down to the wire. Unfortunately for Tom Coughlin and Co., I don’t think the Giants get it done against RGIII on the road in Week 17. That loss keeps them from the playoffs, and will haunt Giants fans for the next 8 months.
RGIII’s progression after his injury is incredible. The synergy in D.C is at a level not seen in decades. However, there are consequences for winning the division the previous season. Those consequences include match-ups against the NFC division winners outside of the standard inter-division scheduling. That means the Redskins bought themselves a road game against the Falcons and a home game against the 49ers. Facing the NFC North will be tough as well. I think the Cowboys just out-edge the Redskins.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints are fresh off the end of the bounty scandal suspensions and are ready to make a statement. How much will one year of Sean Payton’s absence impact the team’s chances? Luckily for the Saints, they draw the unimpressive AFC East this season. Other than the Patriots, that division should be a walk-through for the Saints. Two match-ups with both the Falcons and Buccaneers are key for this team’s playoff hopes. The final game of the year against the Bucs is the circle game on the schedule. I think “Who Dat” Nation shows up big in Week 17 to back Brees and the boys as they grab the final Wild Card spot.
The Percy Harvin loss will be a big hit, but the addition of former Packer Greg Jennings is a huge plus. The Vikings added some a few pieces at the end of the first round, but the NFC, especially the North division, is more stacked than it was in 2012. Christian Ponder is a capable QB, but his overall inexperience will prove evident when the Vikings miss out on the playoffs after sneaking in last season.
NFC Team To Make Surprise Playoff Push: St. Louis Rams
Return tomorrow for the Way Too Early AFC Playoff Predictions.
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