A quick rundown of what’s happened in the NFC.
To put it bluntly, the NFC just went through the biggest depletion of talent via free agency in the history of free agency. It seemed every big NFC free agent went to the AFC and now the NFC only has a few teams that could realistically push for a Super Bowl while the AFC has a full division that has a shot at the playoffs. There are still Super Bowl level squads in the NFC, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a big gap between the Super Bowl teams and the good teams on paper. It’s impossible to know for certain how each team will do but who knows maybe some of these teams can surprise everyone. This isn’t a power ranking of the divisions just a brief rundown of what each team did and who I think will win each division.
NFC West Supremacy
Congratulants to the Los Angeles Rams on their Super Bowl win but it’s time to find out if they can run it back. The NFC West is still fairly competitive despite losing some big names like Russell Wilson, Chandler Jones and Von Miller there’s still the a real chance we could see three out of the four teams in this division in the playoffs. The Rams did their best to keep the gang together but as mentioned earlier money talks and Von Miller got his bag in Buffalo. Replacing Miller with Bobby Wagner is a fair trade off and freeing Allen Robinson from the Bears is another weapon for the newly extended Matthew Stafford. Losing Austin Corbett and Andrew Whitworth from the offensive line will hurt but Sean McVay and Les Snead have a way of figuring things out.
The Arizona Cardinals lost their own big name pass rusher in Chandler Jones but unlike the Rams they didn’t replace him. Bringing back Zach Ertz and James Connor is good for the offense but now you have to deal with Kyler Murray. Murray wants to get paid and the Cardinals haven’t coughed up the cash. Murray is an interesting topic because he’s not a terrible quarterback that for sure doesn’t deserve $40 million but he’s not an amazing enough quarterback that for sure deserves $40 million. It’s one of those cases where it’s toss up either you love him or you hate him and if Arizona doesn’t want to give him 40 million someone else will give him $40 million. Let me know if you’d pay Kyler Murray in the comments.
I’m not a gambling man but the San Francisco 49ers have sat themselves down at the table. Trey Lance is the presumed starter and Deebo Samuel wants out and Jimmy G is still here for some reason. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have got a big season coming up as they’re trying to be both competitive and develop a young quarterback like the Kansas City Chiefs did with Patrick Mahomes. Not saying Trey Lance will be the next Patrick Mahomes but that’s just the last time a team tried this. In terms of the 49ers roster, Alex Mack retired and Laken Tomlinson got paid by the Jets so the offensive line has some holes. Defensively the big names stayed put and they added Charvarius Ward which should bolster their secondary but all the hopes for 49ers fans are in Trey Lance.
It’s tanking time Seattle. Every last member from the Seahawks Super Bowl team is gone and all anyone will truly remember from that era is they decided to pass the ball on the one yard line instead of hand it off to Marshawn Lynch. Pete Carroll is still around but everything else just screams lottery pick. Russell Wilson was traded for a hefty haul including Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris and two first round picks, one of which was used to select Charles Cross and the other will be in the next draft. It’s unfamiliar territory for Seahawks fans but all I can say is embrace the tank and don’t put to much hope in Drew Lock.
My Winner Prediction: Los Angeles Rams
NFC South: Tom Brady is Back
Just when everyone thought we had finally got rid of him, Tom Brady decides to come back for another run. Damn it. Brady coming back put the Bucs from fringe playoff contenders to Super Bowl contenders overnight and the rest of the NFL world rolls their eyes in disgust. Tampa Bay didn’t get significantly worse or better and they managed to keep most of the important pieces around with they exceptions of Ali Marpet, Alex Cappa gone and Jason Pierre Paul and Ndamukong Suh mostly likely gone but they replaced Suh with Akiem Hicks and traded for Shaq Mason so it’s not they end of the world in Tampa.
New Orleans had a busy offseason. Sean Payton is gone so they hired his defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to be their next head coach. Jameis Winston also returns although coming off an ACL tear and Michael Thomas should be returning. The Saints both lost and added key pieces and only time will tell if they will be right or not. Both former starting safeties Marcus Williams and Malcom Jenkins are gone and have been replaced with Marcus Maye and Tyrann Matheiu. Terron Armstead got paid handsomely in Miami so the Saints drafted Trevor Penning to hopefully solidify the left tackle spot. Chris Olave was drafted and Jarvis Landry was signed both with the intention of complementing Michael Thomas upon his return and to give famous Jameis a chance to win comeback player of the year.
Carolina is locked into a year with no hope. Matt Rhule can’t be fired because it would cost the team too much money, Sam Darnold is going to be the starting quarterback which has made fans so delusional it’s got them trying to convince themselves that Matt Corral is the answer, not saying Corral will be terrible but it’s to early to judge him. This team isn’t good by any standard but they have pieces. Ikem Ekwonu is a very raw offensive tackle prospect but with huge upside. Jaycee Horn looked like an elite corner before getting injured and Jeremy Chinn and Brian Burns have locked up their respective positions. The Panthers won’t be anything special this season but that’s okay, fake it till you make and go out and find a quarterback next year.
Losing out on Deshaun Watson was the best thing that could’ve happened to the Falcons. If Atlanta got Watson it would’ve just been the same situation Watson was in his last year in Houston where they sucked because he had little to no help and no defense. Now Atlanta has torn everything down and is prepared to tank away. It was a hard decision to give up on Matt Ryan but a necessary one and they did right by Ryan by trading him where he wanted to go. Arthur Smith, I tip my hat to you and wish you the best of luck on your future sucking. Go out and get that number one pick.
My Winner Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFC North….It’s Cold I Guess
They only person more annoyed than Bill Belichick that Tom Brady came of retirement is Aaron Rodgers, he may not show it, but all those MVPs can’t cover up the fact he’s gotten owned by Brady in recent memory. This Packers squad is a joke. Aaron Rodgers made all that noise that he wanted out of Green bay, that the front office never listened to him and cut all his friends and then he signs an extension? I know money talks but Davante Adams learned money talks better playing for a different organization. This team has gotten worse and worse every year since they made the NFC Championship in 2019 and yet people still see them as Super Bowl contenders? It’s laughable how a single team can lose so many important games in back to back to back years and still people think “Hey now, THIS is the year we don’t choke” but hey at least they got Sammy Watkins to replace Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers can make anything work right…right?
Minnesota how long will you tease your fans with potential only to waste their time and money as you shoot yourselves in the foot and miss the playoffs simultaneously? The biggest thing holding you back was Mike Zimmer and he’s gone and replaced by Kevin O’connell, now is the time to show people Kirk Cousins wasn’t a mistake. All the pieces are in place. Dalvin Cook is healthy and Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen are back. Signing Za’Darius Smith, Jordan Hicks, Harrison Phillips should improve your defense and run defense especially. Was trading down 20 spots in the draft for a terrible return worth it? Probably not but you got your guy in Lewis Cine so good on you, Vikings. It’s playoffs or bust for the Vikings this year as the NFC hasn’t been this wide open in a long time.
Detroit I have just one thing to say to you…keep going. For the first time in years there’s an actual plan in place for the Lions to build up a competitive team. Dan Campbell instead of just signing former Patriots players is doing his own scouting and bringing in players who fit his culture and drafting well on top of that. Aiden Hutchinson and Jameson Williams this year filled two holes for this Lions roster and they got to make the Vikings look stupid on top of that. This team is not good, in fact it’s pretty terrible but who cares; for the first time in a while NFL fans, Lions fans, sports fans, can finally say “The Detroit Lions aren’t doing stupid things.”
Chicago cleaned house. Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace were fired albeit a year too late. Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus were brought in to spearhead the new project at Solider Feld. Operation develop your quarterback properly this time has begun in Chicago and Justin Fields is that said quarterback. Every move the Bears made this offseason was for a brighter tomorrow…ish. They didn’t have a first round pick because they traded it to get Fields but they had two second rounders both used to select defensive players. They didn’t spend big money to bring in guys but they did clear a bunch of cap space for the future. This Bears team reminds me of the early Josh Allen Bills years, people love to talk about how Josh Allen was a project quarterback but don’t understand just how much of a project it truly was. To develop a quarterback you have to build a team around him. In Allen’s first year his best receiver was Robert Foster and if you don’t know who that is I don’t blame you. In year two his best receivers were John Brown and Cole Beasley a big step up from his rookie year then in year three the Bills went out and traded for Stefon Diggs and Allen exploded. It’s a process and the Bears are just truly starting that process.
My Winner Prediction: Minnesota Vikings
NFC East, Truly the Worst Division in Football
What doesn’t suck about this division? Worst franchises mixed with the worst fanbases and just to top it all off they have some of the least likeable owners to boot. As an unbiased sports writer, I will do my best to evaluate these teams to the best of my ability.
Dallas…you’re stupid. It’s just an endless cycle for the Cowboys, they spend big money one offseason then underperform then Jerry Jones tears it all down. Trading Amari Cooper for nothing, cutting La’el Collins, signing Randy Gregory then changing his contract last minute to piss him off and watch him sign the same deal with Denver. The moves Dallas made were nothing but puzzling and Mike McCarthy is still here so first round exit is their upside. It is not your year, Cowboys.
It must be a nice feeling for the Philadelphia Eagles to just sit back and watch as the Cowboys shoot themselves in the foot. The Eagles didn’t make tons of moves but they made enough to improve their roster. Howie Roseman decided since he sucks at drafting receivers, he’ll just trade for a receiver someone else drafted and devolved like AJ Brown which almost makes people forget that he took Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson. They also signed Hasson Reddick and Kyzir White and stole James Bradberry from the Giants for defensive help as well as drafting Jordan Davis to inevitably replace Fletcher Cox. Jalen Hurts is in a make or break year and the Eagles have set themselves up perfectly for it. If Hurts pans out and proves to be a franchise quarterback the Eagles still have two first rounders next year to play with. If Hurts doesn’t improve, Roseman can package those two picks to potentially move up and draft his replacement or package them to trade for his replacement.
Washington Commanders is such a weird name. The Commanders went into the offseason with one goal in mind and that was to find a quarterback. When it comes to NFL free agency, teams always want to be in the drivers seat when it comes to contract negotiations and trade talk; they never want to seem desperate because they lose their leverage. I don’t have a problem with Washington trading for Carson Wentz but Washington had all the leverage in the world in trade talks and still gave up prime assets to get Wentz and his massive contract. The Colts had to trade Wentz and it was reported Washington was the only team interested in him so there was no reason to give up a second round pick to get him. Outside of the Wentz trade, signing Andrew Norwell to replace Brandon Scherff was the biggest move they made. SELL THE TEAM DAN SNYDER, NOBODY LIKES YOU.
When both New York teams make solid offseason moves it’s time to prepare for they apocalypse. The New York Giants brought in Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll from the Bills squad to hopefully replicate their success when they start their rebuild. The Giants are going into a expecting to be bad so they officially start their rebuild next offseason, they didn’t sign many free agents but they did draft Evan Neal and Kayvon Thibodeaux to fill two holes on the roster. Daniel Jones and Saquan Barkley are the last two big pieces of the Dave Gettleman era but there time in New York maybe coming to an end.
My Winner Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles
That concludes the NFC divisions overview. The NFC is very lackluster compared to the AFC but every year there is surprises. Who do you think is a dark horse playoff team in the NFC and who are your division winners? I did and AFC divisions overview as well so you can check that out but for now just comment on this one.