You have heard my two cents take on every AFC Team, now, I tackle the NFC. I will follow the same format. Eight words or less followed by a brief explanation in more detail.
Redskins- Peaked last year
The Redskins won the division last year with a marginal run game and defense, combined with the safest passing offense I have ever seen. Almost 46% of Kirk Cousin’s passing yardage from last year was gained by receivers running after the catch. In other words, he cannot throw the ball downfield. Now that there is a full season of film on Cousins, that success will be tough to duplicate. I am not convinced they can win any other way
Giants- Must learn to finish games
photo from profootballfocus.com
They still have the talent to play with anybody, particularly on offense, but can the defense hold onto the late leads Eli Manning and crew give them? They failed miserably at this task last year. I cannot trust them.
Cowboys- Praying Romo stays healthy
Anyone who thinks Tony Romo is not a top flight quarterback after seeing what the Cowboys did without him last year needs to have their head examined. If Romo is healthy, I think they are the best team in the NFC. Romo also takes pressure off the defense because they do not have to be on the field as much. I really like Dallas in 2016.
Eagles- With the first pick in the 2017 draft…
The words I chose here are actually somewhat misleading. Philadelphia does not have a 2017 first round pick. That was one of the five draft picks they traded to Cleveland to go up and get quarterback Carson Wentz. It appears Wentz will be the third team quarterback and therefore inactive for most games in 2016. That is right. They gave up five draft picks for a guy who is going to mostly sit on the bench this year. It is going to be a long year for the Eagles.
Packers- Still good, but window starting to close
photo from cbssports.com
Aaron Rodgers is very good, but he has only taken this franchise on one great championship run. I am not sure why he seems to be immune to criticism from media and fans. The Packers will probably still reach the playoffs, but I have serious questions as to if they can go further.
Vikings- Bridgewater is not the guy
I am still stunned this team made the playoffs last year. They were 31st in passing offense and have/had no consistent receiving threat to speak of. Thankfully, head coach Mike Zimmer, Adrian Peterson, and the defense is amazing. With Peterson another year older, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has to step up. His lack of arm strength was exposed in their playoff loss to Seattle. That was all I needed to see. He just has not progressed since his rookie year. Although I love rookie wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, this team has gone as far as Bridgewater is going to take it and they will not get there again.
Bears- Will surprise people this year
The offense is pretty good. Jay Cutler really cut down on the mistakes last year. The signings of Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman will immediately stabilize the defense. I think they are a surprise playoff team.
Lions- No Megatron, no chance
Newly retired wide receiver Calvin Johnson was the only premier player they had. Unless quarterback Matt Stafford plays a lot smarter, it is hard to see them getting to .500.
Panthers- Tough act to follow
photo from foxsports.com
A 17-2 record last year was quite surprising. However, one of those losses was the Super Bowl. Defensive coaches have spent all offseason trying to figure out how to stop quarterback Cam Newton. Coaches in this league always figure it out. They will still win the division, but the only way to go may be down.
Saints- Window closed
As good as Drew Brees is, he cannot carry this franchise forever. There simply was not enough player movement in the off season on what was statically one of the worst defenses ever last year. The glory days off about a half a decade ago are long gone in New Orleans.
Falcons- Matt Ryan consistency is key
There is some good young talent on defense here. They are led by 2015 first round draft pick Vic Beasley. Ultimately though, it is the play of quarterback Matt Ryan that will determine if this team is closer to the one that started 2015 5-0 or the one that finished it 3-8.
Buccaneers- Slowly building something special
The playoffs may still be a year away, but I really like where quarterback Jameis Winston is taking this franchise. Running back Doug Martin allows this team to run and throw effectively. The only question for me is the defense.
Cardinals- Well coached, but running out of time
They were so good last year. Head coach Bruce Arians continues to push all the right buttons, but quarterback Carson Palmer is 36 and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will be 33 when the season starts. They are among many ageing key pieces. In Arizona, it is now or never.
Seahawks- Still loaded and dangerous
photo from profootballfocus.com
There is no obvious weakness on this football team. They may lack just a touch of explosiveness on offense. The very talented Thomas Rawls takes over in the backfield. Other than that, the main cast of characters is the same.
Rams- New home, same lack of talent
It is exciting to have football back in Los Angeles, I am not old enough to remember it. Jeff Fisher will get the most out of what he has to work with. Unfortunately, he does not have much outside of running back Todd Gurley. It is hard to accept much from a team that is likely going with a rookie quarterback. Guys like Andrew Luck are the exception, not the rule.
49ers- Mad scientist at work
The mad scientist is of course head coach Chip Kelly. His odd personnel decisions did not pan out in Philly. He has no control over personnel in San Francisco, but significantly less talent to work worth. I have no idea what this team will look or play like and won’t until I actually see them play.