NFL: NFC early season predictions

It appears as if a number of teams in the NFC are built well enough to make a Super Bowl run in January. Today, we will break down NFC Conference predictions, sleepers and teams that may disappoint when the end of the regular season is here.

First of all, there are two teams in particular that should make the playoffs in 2017. The Seattle Seahawks of the NFC West is one. The Seahawks should once again be amongst the best in the crowded NFC playoff picture. Seattle has the tools returning on defense to be a top-five group while the offense should take another step forward with the emergence of a young offensive line. The other team comes from the NFC North in the Green Bay Packers. It does not matter what the rest of your roster looks like when you have a guy like quarterback Aaron Rodgers slinging the football around for your team. The Packers are absolutely loaded on offense yet again after adding tight end Martellus Bennett, and are looking for their defense to take a step forward after a terrible year in the secondary.

There is another category of teams that should make the playoffs, but will fail to accomplish the feat. One team will be from the NFC South, the Atlanta Falcons. After an epic Super Bowl collapse in which the world witnessed the Falcons blow a 28-3 lead in the third quarter, the world is expecting big plays from this high-flying offense this year. I believe they will pump the breaks and will not underestimate the power of a ‘Super Bowl Hangover.’ Another team will be the Dallas Cowboys from the tough NFC East. This young star-studded squad is facing a potential six-game suspension for its star running back Ezekiel Elliot. That smells like trouble for second-year quarterback Dak Prescott, who will be asked to do more than he did in his rookie campaign. Dallas also lost a lot of talent in the secondary and present a below average pass rush that may have trouble getting opposing offenses off the field. Their talented offensive line may face more problems as time goes on as well.

Some teams saw the misfortune of missing the playoffs in 2016. The Minnesota Vikings should be a team to think about come playoff time. The Vikings defense is legit and should be a top-five group this coming season. The offense needs to take a step forward in order for this team to compete for more than just a wild card berth. Quarterback Sam Bradford looks more comfortable in his second year in the Vikings system and now has bell cow-running back Dalvin Cook to hand the ball to. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are also on the rise. Tampa Bay is a very young up-and-coming team. They have a young quarterback in Jameis Winston who has a plethora of weapons at his skill positions. This young defense should take another step forward, making the Buccaneers my bold prediction to win the NFC South this year. Last of this group involves the Arizona Cardinals. This team is in “win now” mode. Running back David Johnson is an absolute game-breaker at running back, but other than that the Cardinals offense is full of aging stars. The defense should be good yet again and the Cardinals could sneak into the postseason.

As for the NFC Playoffs, the Vikings will sneak in as the sixth seed at 9-7, while the Cardinals will be the other wild card team with the fifth seed and a 10-6 record. The Buccaneers will achieve the fourth seed at 10-6, the New York Giants are slated for the third seed at 10-6, the Seahawks at 11-5 will clinch the second seed, and the Packers will be sitting atop the NFC with a 13-3 record. The Giants win against the Vikings and the Cardinals defeat the Bucs, advancing to the second round. The one and two seeds will be victorious, setting up an NFC Championship involving Seattle and Green Bay. This is the year of the Packers, as Green Bay will be in their first Super Bowl since 2011.

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