Your NFL Preview, Part II: The NFC and Super Bowl Picks
The other side to the Road to Tampa
Welcome to Part II of the 2020 NFL Preview. Like yesterday’s AFC Preview, this NFL preview is going to be light on statistics and high on opinion. If you want statistical analysis, subscribe to The Athletic. This is just by gut feeling about a lot of things about to happen this year. Almost all of these opinions will turn out wrong. But let’s have some fun anyway.
Dallas Cowboys: Look, Dallas is not going to be a great team by any stretch of the imagination. “America’s Team” hasn’t been able to win in almost thirty years and there is no reason to think that this is going to be any different this year. They are just good enough to win their division and not much else. They’re just fortunate enough to play in the worst division in professional sports. Oddly this could hurt the Cowboys in the long run; they are so thoroughly mediocre every year, yet the best draft pick they can hope for (outside of trades) is a mid-to-late 1st Rounder.
Philadelphia Eagles or New York Giants
New York Giants or Philadelphia Eagles: Look, it doesn’t really matter what order I put these teams in. Neither are going anywhere Neither are any good. The only rooting interest most people will have is how Saquon Barkley helps or hurts their fantasy football team. They are throughout milquetoast.
Washington TBAs: This team has had…..and offseason. Controversy. Scandal. Coach Ron Rivera being diagnosed with cancer. Releases. It’s very clear that this team is following the Jacksonville plan by tanking this year with hopes of getting a high pick (the #1 pick) next year. Would be quite a coup if they could draft Trevor Lawrence to be the face of their new brand (Washington Warriors? Washington Potatoes? Washington RedHawks? Washington RedTails? Washington Hogs?) Though realistically new ownership is what this franchise really needs.
Minnesota Vikings: Yes, this is the Vikings year. Yes, this is the year Dalvin Cook becomes a franchise player. Yes, this is the year that Kirk Cousins earns his contract. The Vikings have been on the cusp of being great for years. Are the Vikings the best team in the NFC? They’re in the upper echelon, to be sure. But this looks like it’s the year that the Vikings begin a run as the best team in the NFC North, ahead of the Packers.
Green Bay Packers: Not to say that the Packers are going to be bad this year. Aaron Rodgers is still one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, regardless of his injury history. The real question of course is whether or not there will be a quarterback controversy at any point in this season, thanks to the Packers drafting Jordan Love in the first round. Will Love be to Rodgers what Rodgers was to Brett Favre? Who knows. Love did not nearly had the hype Rodgers did coming out of college, and it was clear that there were three QB higher-rated than Love. Either way, barring injury or cataclysm, this is Rodgers team this year.
Chicago Bears: The Bears went 8-8 last year. The Bears, at best, will go 8-8 this year. The Bears will never be anything more than a mediocre team so long as they have a mediocre QB like Mitchell Trubisky. And this is a good time to remind you that the Bears took Trubisky at #2 overall in the 2017 Draft ahead of #10 pick Patrick Mahomes and #12 pick Deshaun Watson.
Detroit Lions: The Lions have a very good quarterback in Matthew Stafford. They have a very good receiver in Marivn Jones, Jr. Yet the also make grasping at straws moves like signing Adrian Peterson right before the end of training camp. The Lions didn’t win with Megatron, they didn’t win with Ndamukong Suh, and they aren’t gonna win with this team either.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints remain the class of the NFC until somebody can actually dethrone them. They have two of the best running backs, a top receiver, a top tight end, and one of the top quarterbacks who continues to defy father time, and a multi-faceted gadget weapon. So long as Drew Brees continues to play at an elite level, the Saints will be the top dog in the South.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: You may have heard that the Bucs have a new quarterback….
What you may have forgotten is that the Bucs also brought in Rob Gronkowski. And Leonard Fournette. And LeSean McCoy. The Bucs got a lot better. Are they good enough to overtake the Saints? No. Are they good enough to make a playoff run? Yes….so long as Tom Brady plays like Tom Brady and not like Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, and Brett Favre did playing out the string.
Atlanta Falcons: As I mentioned yesterday, the Falcons haven’t been the same sing blowing that 28-3 lead against the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Last year the Falcons were a 7-9 team, and that’s probably their best hope for this year as well. Unfortunately for the Falcons, they are going to dress like total clowns doing it.
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers have moved on from Cam Newton. What they’ve replaced him with is Teddy Bridgewater. That’s a downgrade. They have a phenom running back in Christian McCaffrey, an underrated wideout in D.J. Moore. But without a good quarterback, I’m not sure that’s going to matter all that much.
Seattle Seahawks: Hard to believe it, but the Seahawks haven’t won the NFC West since 2016. This is the year they will come back The NFC West happens to be hypercompetitive this year and the Seahawks will be the team to end up on top. However, there is just as much chance that…..
San Francisco 49ers: …..the 49ers win the division. The 49ers are the reigning NFC Champs and, like most teams that lose the Super Bowl, will likely take a step back this year. As long as Jimmy Garropolo stays healthy, the 49ers will be toward the top of the division and the top of the conference.
Los Angeles Rams: I have a feeling that the Rams thought they would be in a better place when opening SoFi Stadium this year. And I don’t mean anything related to the pandemic. Everyone thought the Rams were headed for greatness after their 13-3 2018 campaign, but they fell down to earth last year with a 9-7 record. Will they rebound or are they looking at another 3rd place finish. More the latter than the former, though the Rams should still make a run toward the playoffs regardless.
Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals overachieved at 5-10-1 last year. They’ll be better this year with Kyler Murray under the helm, but the Cardinals are still a year or two away from seriously competing again. I’m hoping that Larry Fitzgerald gets one more shot at a ring though before he hangs up his cleats for good.
New Orleans Saints (S)
Minnesota Vikings (N)
Seattle Seahawks (W)
Dallas Cowboys (E)
San Francisco 49ers (WC)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (WC)
Green Bay Packers (WC)
NFC PLAYOFF RESULTS
Wild Card Round
#2 Minnesota def. #7 Green Bay
#6 Tampa Bay def. #3 Seattle
#5 San Francisco def. #4 Dallas
#1 New Orleans def. #6 Tampa Bay
#2 Minnesota def. #5 San Francisco
NFC Title Game
#2 Minnesota def. #1 New Orleans
AFC PLAYOFF RESULTS
Wild Card Round
#2 Kansas City def. #7 Las Vegas
#3 Houston def. #6 New England
#5 Tennessee def. #4 Buffalo
#1 Baltimore def. #5 Tennessee
#2 Kansas City def. #3 Houston
AFC Title Game
#1 Baltimore def. #2 Kansas City
SUPER BOWL LV
Baltimore def. Minnesota