Dave's NFC Playoff Prediction
With the season opener for the 2022 season looming, it is time to conclude the preview to the new season by looking at which NFC teams will be making the playoffs. The previous two Super Bowl winners have come from the NFC, and they won the big game in their own stadium. State Farm Stadium, the home of the Arizona Cardinals, will host Super Bowl 57. Could we see history repeat itself again? Find out below!
NFC NORTH- Green Bay Packers
With Aaron Rodgers at 100% over the last three years, the Packers have been untouchable not only in the NFC North but in the entire NFC. They have been a top-two seed throughout Matt LaFleur's reign, and that perfect record of making the postseason via winning the division title will not stop this season. Despite losing Davante Adams in the offseason, the Packers still have solid offensive weapons around Rodgers. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are a strong running back duo, while Allen Lazard, Robert Tonyan and Sammy Watkins have a great opportunity to step up in the absence of Adams. Green Bay's defense is also one of the NFL's best. They have a strong pass rush, and their secondary is excellent. Jaire Alexander is one of the league's best cornerbacks, and Adrian Amos, Rasul Douglas, Eric Stokes and Darnell Savage are all good players in the league.
The Vikings have a strong roster and have the opportunity to freshen things up with Kevin O'Connell in charge. However, with Rodgers still playing at this level, it is hard to look beyond Green Bay.
NFC EAST- Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have had one of, if not the best off-season in the NFL. They drafted Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, two standouts in Georgia's star-studded defense. They also signed Haason Reddick, James Bradberry and Kyzir White as free agents before trading for Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. The Philadelphia defense got significantly better, and there will be no excuse for Jonathan Gannon to play as fearful as he did last season. The Eagles also added star wide receiver AJ Brown to the team in a draft day trade as Jalen Hurts reunited with his long-time friend. Hurts, who is entering his third year, has a great opportunity to make a statement by winning the NFC East. He took a positive step in his development last season and will need to do the same again.
Looking at the competition, the Washington Commanders are an unknown quantity, with Carson Wentz at quarterback and their defense coming off a disappointing year. The New York Giants have underwhelmed for some time now, and Daniel Jones is on his final chance as a starter in the league. However, it is difficult to envision them being competitive. The Dallas Cowboys, last year's NFC East winner, are hampered by the ongoing curse of the fact that no team repeats winning the NFC East. They are also entering the season with plenty of unknowns on the offense. Nobody knows what their offensive line will look like with Jason Peters signing and the injuries they have suffered. Without Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb will now take the reins and with Michael Gallup coming off an ACL injury, how he performs is up in the air. Plus, Ezekiel Elliott is still a question mark. Will he be able to return to what he was during his first years in the league?
NFC SOUTH- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The NFC South will be closer than some think. The Buccaneers are the favourites, and rightfully so. They still have a strong offense with Tom Brady, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Their defense is still one of the NFL's best, and they will need to be at their best to help them retain their NFC South crown. The Buccaneers have a tough schedule, but with Brady as their quarterback, they will always stand a chance.
The Saints and Panthers will make things closer than people think. The Saints as a whole got stronger, and with Baker Mayfield at quarterback, Carolina looks a much tougher outfit. A fit Christian McCaffrey and that excellent defense will put them in with a shout. However, the Bucs have the experience of winning in the big moments. That will push them above the rest.
NFC WEST- LA Rams
Last year's Super Bowl champions are primed to win the NFC West again. They retained much of the roster that won them a ring last season, but there is concern surrounding the elbow of Matthew Stafford. Despite this, Sean McVay will gameplan around it. However, the rest of the NFC West may struggle to keep up with them. The Seahawks have a mess of a quarterback situation. Arizona has had a turbulent offseason surrounding the future of Kyler Murray. However, he could be out to prove his doubters wrong, which could make them a dangerous team. The 49ers should be in the hunt, but Trey Lance will have growing pains in his first season as a starter.
San Francisco 49ers- The 49ers may see Lance struggle with growing pains as an NFL starter, but the rest of their roster will more than make up for that. Their defense is incredible from top to bottom. Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw and Nick Bosa make up one of the NFL's best defensive lines. Without any injury issues, they should dominate. Fred Warner is one of the league's best linebackers and is the centrepiece of their defense. Plus, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and their running back group is always reliable. The pieces are there, they just need Lance to be competent at the very least to make the playoffs.
New Orleans Saints- After the Saints beat Tampa Bay in Week 8 of last season, they sat with a 5-2 record and looked to be the favourites to win the NFC South. However, Jameis Winston tore his ACL in the game and missed the remainder of the season. The Saints struggled to get over the loss of Winston as they went on a five-game losing streak. It would ultimately kill their playoff chances.
However, this season, Winston is on a revenge tour. He impressed in the six-and-a-half games he featured in last season. He looked more comfortable and less erratic than he had done with the Buccaneers. The 2022 Saints look stronger than last year. The additions of Mark Ingram, Jarvis Landry, Tyrann Mathieu and Chris Olave highlight that they are still looking to win now. Winston having a returning Michael Thomas, Olave and Landry as a receiver trio is lightyears ahead of what he played with last season. Head Coach Dennis Allen will have a point to prove after a tumultuous stint with the Raiders. The Saints will be looking to turn a lot of heads, and making the playoffs will do that.
Dallas Cowboys- Despite the problems surrounding the Cowboys, they still have a star-studded defense anchored by Micah Parsons, and they have Dak Prescott at quarterback. They have a tough schedule, but games against the Commanders, Giants and the AFC South will play a huge role in the race for a wildcard spot. The problems on offense could hamper them, but their defense will likely make up for that.