Midseason Playoff Predictions: NFC

 

 

Willy Nailor
By Willy Nailor

 

 

 

1 Seed / NFC West Champs: Rams

No shit, the Rams are gonna have the 1 seed in the NFC. They’re already 7-0 and there’s only 2, maybe 3 games the rest of the way there’s a shot of them losing. But I don’t see them going that far in the playoffs. I’m aware that I’m alone on this one, but the Rams aren’t as good as they seem on the surface.

Todd Gurley’s probably the best running back in the league and calls for the majority of attention from any defense. And that leaves the door open for an above average QB like Goff to play with little resistance and pick apart an off balance defense. Just wait for things to even out. Remember how good Dak Prescott looked when everyone was focused on Ezekiel Elliott?

 

I’m not bashing the Rams, they’re a good football team, but there’s a lot of deception about how good they are. Any casual, easily fooled fan will watch a game or hear an announcer who hasn’t gotten fired yet and think, “whoooaahh the Rams offense is too good to lose. They’re putting up 30 points a game!” Just because Joe Buck wears two knee holes in the floor for the Rams doesn’t mean they’re winning the super bowl.

They put up 30 points a game last year to. What happened? They got torched in the first round by the Falcons. They’re a good team but I don’t think anything’s gonna be any different. They’re still a young team with little playoff experience. Depending on who they play after their 1st round bye, the Rams might be a 1 and done.

 

 

 

2 Seed / NFC South Champs: Saints

The Saints are for real. Drew Brees is playing amazing, reminiscent of when he won the super bowl in 09, and their offense is firing on all cylinders. They have 2 of the best backs in the league, along with one of the most underrated receiving cores. They have the type of offense that can beat you in many ways, and defenses in the playoffs will have a tough time shutting them down.

The only question mark about this team is the defense. We’re all aware of how inconsistent the Saints D has been over the years. But last year they took a step forward, and this year, minus two division shootouts against the Bucs and the Falcons where they gave up 48 and 37 points respectively, they’ve only allowed 19.5 PPG.




They’re getting there. And as long as the defense holds up, this teams gonna be tough to beat. I predict them getting to the NFC championship game and possibly the super bowl.

 

 

 

3 Seed / NFC North Champs: Vikings

The Vikings are tough to predict because they have the ability to be a great team, but they’re only a good one. On paper they have a star studded defense and an offense with the potential to put up 35 a game, but they don’t.

As of right now I’m not sold on them, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they took the leap. They are similar to the Rams in how people distort how good they are. They have a top 10 defense, but it’s swayed by giving up few YPG, and people get easily tricked by that. “They give up the least amount of yards a game. Their D’s unstoppable!!” It doesn’t matter how many yards they give up. They give up a lot of points when they play good teams. However, they’ve won 3 in a row since losing by a touchdown to the Rams, and they play the Saints this week. How they do in that game will go a long way in determining how their season plays out. They’re just tough to predict. You notice how in this last paragraph it’s a positive, then something bad, then another positive…? That’s how they play.

As of right now, I think they will win the NFC North, but I don’t see them going deep in the playoffs. Depending on how Kirk Cousins plays they may win a wildcard game, but take an early exit in the divisional round. The story of Kirk Cousins’ career has been, “He plays great, but the team never gets the job done.” I don’t think that’s going to change in the playoffs.

 

 

 

 

4 Seed / NFC East Champs: Eagles

The Eagles are a tough one. They’re most likely going to win the NFC East only because the division’s a train wreck, but how far they’ll go in the playoffs depends on a few things. Look, I’m an Eagles fan but I’m also an honest guy. The Eagles have the potential to win back to back Super Bowls, but they also have a few things they need to fix before they’re gonna beat any good team.

The biggest issue right now is their second half pass defense. For some dumbass reason Jim Schwartz plays tight coverage in the first half/first three quarters of games, and then has his backs play off the receivers once they have a comfortable lead. Teams immediately see this coverage and start going directly at it, throwing short passes with a chance at yards after the catch.

These quick plays don’t give the pass rush (the Bird’s biggest weapon) any time to pressure the QB. The defense never gives up a huge play at the end, but it’s consistent 10, 15, 25 yard gains one play after another that allow the opposing team to drive back down the field and score. Then they lose the game. It’s bullshit, and it’s happened twice against the Titans and the Panthers, two teams the Eagles are more talented than. The good news is that it’s a coaching mistake, not as much a player mistake.

The Eagles have an adaptive coaching staff that admits when their shit ain’t working. Examples are how Doug Pederson started running the ball more to control the game better and keep pressure off Wentz, or adding more RPO’s for Wentz to run, or Jim Schwartz rotating the D-line because they were getting tired and the pass rush dwindled at the end of games. If the Eagles can correct their defensive errors, this team can repeat. But if those mistakes don’t get fixed, they might not even make it past the first round.




 

Wildcard 1: Panthers

The Panthers have a good team. They have a solid run game and an athletic, playmaking quarterback who can beat you more than one way. They also have a pretty good defense. The only thing holding the Panthers back is a great receiver. Devin Funchess and Torrey Smith aren’t gonna get the job done.

Even with Mccaffrey out of the backfield, the Panthers don’t have anyone that threatens the defense or can get consistent separation. That being said, Cam Newton still finds a way to get it done most of the time. I think the Panthers will at least advance to the divisional round and possibly (depending on a matchup) the NFC championship.

 

 

 

Wildcard 2: Packers

I’m not gonna waste anyone’s time with this one. The Packers are an OK team, but we all know they’re only gonna go as far as Aaron Rodgers takes them. That being said, he can only take them so far by himself. If my predictions are right and they play the Vikings in the wildcard, it’s a toss up between the two. With the winner most likely losing the next week.

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