Wednesday, August 27, 2014

2015 NFC Playoff Predictions

1. Seattle Seahawks (13-3): The defending Super Bowl Champions may still have A LOT of talent on their roster, but several relatively important players were lost this past offseason, such as Golden Tate, Brandon Browner, and Red Bryant. Yet with stars like Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, and Percy Harvin on offense, as well as the entire "Legion of Boom" on defense (Sherman, Chancellor, Thomas), Seattle is surely in store for another deep playoff run.

2. New Orleans Saints (12-4): In his first full season back with the Saints since the bounty scandal, Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints went 11-5, thus finishing second in their division. Quarterback Drew Brees was one touchdown away from having three straight seasons with at least 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns. The loss of running back Darren Sproles could potentially hurt both the rushing and passing game, but I'm sure this offense will find a way to survive. The defense has managed to gain cornerback Champ Bailey and safety Jairus Byrd in an attempt to prove the pass defense, so expect the Saints to be contenders once again.
3. Chicago Bears (11-5): Seeing how the Bears were unable to make the playoffs last year, it is pretty risky for us to have them finishing third in the NFC next season; however, this team is very well-rounded. Jay Cutler struggled to stay healthy last season, but assuming he can play at least 14 games, he has the chance to be an MVP finalist thanks to receivers Alshon Jeffrey, Brandon Marshall, and Santonio Holmes. Also, Matt Forte and the running game will be able to take some pressure off of their quarterback. The defense may have lost Juluis Peppers, but defensive ends Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston join Jay Ratliff on the defensive line. Chicago is a surely a sleeper team in 2014, possibly enough to make a run at the NFC Championship Game.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7): While Philadelphia made a quick exit from the playoffs last season, the major storyline for Philly fans was the emergence of quarterback Nick Foles as one of the game's most efficient passers. Foles passed for 27 touchdowns with 2 interceptions, while running back LeSean McCoy also had a career year. The Eagles lost DeSean Jackson after he left for Washington, so it will be interesting to see how Foles is able to adapt to the loss. The main problem for the Eagles is clearly the pass defenses, which ranked last in the league in 2013. While the Eagles did manage to sign safety Malcolm Jenkins, this pass defense is bound to struggle into 2014.

5. San Francisco 49ers (12-4): For the third straight year in a row, San Francisco made an appearance in the NFC Championship Game, but Richard Sherman's tipped ball that turned into an interception late in the game resulted in a loss for the Niners. San Francisco still has a top 10 offense, with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, running backs Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde, and wide receivers Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, and Stevie Johnson. The defense has almost everyone returning, apart from Aldon Smith, who is awaiting a suspension. San Francisco may end up as the fifth seed, but they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

6. Green Bay Packers (11-5): The Green Bay Packers' receiving corp has gradually worsened over the past 5 years, where Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are the only two stars remaining; however, the Packers now have an excellent running game thanks to rookie running back Eddie Lacy. Defenses have struggled to shut down both Green Bay's passing game, pioneered by Aaron Rodgers, and their running game, which is how Lacy has managed to achieve such success. Green Bay's defense is slightly above mediocre, but things got even worse for Green Bay's defense by losing nose tackle B.J. Raji for the entire season. 

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