With the start of NFL preseason less than 2 months away, I figure now is as good a time as any to give you my NFL predictions for the upcoming season. Without further ado, here are my predictions for the winner of each division, starting with the NFC.
NFC North: Minnesota Vikings
This division is really a two-team fight between the Packers and the Vikings. The Lions have lost too much talent in recent years and the Bears just don’t have enough on the defensive side of the ball. That leaves the reigning division champs, Green Bay, and the up-and-coming Vikings. As hard as it is for me to pick against Aaron Rodgers, I love what Mike Zimmer is building on the defensive side of the ball. That will keep the Vikings in every game, and in a very tight race I think the offense is just good enough to win a lot of close games.
NFC East: Dallas Cowboys
In all honesty, this division is an absolute crap shoot. Having said that, as long as Tony Romo stays healthy and Ezekiel Elliot can locate the giant holes that the offensive line will open for him, the offense will be one of the most potent in the NFL. Couple that with New York’s struggles in recent years, Philadelphia switching systems, and the fact that, in my opinion, the Redskins’ limited success last year was an absolute fluke… Dallas wins it by default.
NFC South: Carolina Panthers
This seems like an obvious choice due to the fact that Carolina was absolutely dominant all last season until the Super Bowl, but I think the race will be much closer than last year. Atlanta will continue to improve and will push the Panthers before ultimately falling short. The Saints should return to competence as that defense can’t possibly be any worse than it was last year. The Bucs should be better in Jameis Winston’s second year, but Carolina is simply too good to fall off enough to lose their grip on the NFC South.
NFC West: Arizona Cardinals
Bruce Arians has been doing great work in Arizona, and I can’t see that stopping anytime soon. The defense will continue to be athletic and hard-hitting, while the offense will continue to put up points as long as Carson Palmer stays healthy. I would have been inclined to pick the Seahawks since Russell Wilson keeps getting better and they’ve once again kept the bulk of their defensive core intact, but that O-line might be historically bad. As good a coach as Tom Cable is, he can’t work miracles. Neither the Rams nor the 49ers should be a factor in the race.