Only 2 teams, Philadelphia and Carolina, would be in the playoff hunt, if they were in the AFC. I had Carolina as my NFC Champ, before Sports Illustrated decided to put the cover jinx on them, but I still am going with the Panthers, as I love their defensive front four, plus Delhomme has really become a top-flight QB. Unless serious injuries hit the Panthers or Eagles, I just can’t see any other NFC team competing with them.
Schedule is tantamount in the NFL, as road wins are so difficult. If you get to play San Fran or Cleveland on the road, this is a huge advantage, as they will be the 2 easiest places to win away from home. The Cowboys have this advantage over the Skins, as they have the Niners on the road.
Much like the AFC North, not much difference between the top 3 here. A lot has been made about the Vikings upgrading their defense and that the loss of Randy Moss will help chemistry. I think Dante Culpepper is a pretty average QB, who was bailed out often by the talents of Moss. While the talent level is slightly better in Minnesota, than in Detroit, I think Maruicci is a far superior coach to Tice, plus they get Cleveland on the road. Favre will keep the Packers in the division hunt, but they will fall just short. Hard to know what the Bears will do, with the rookie QB Orton, but their defense and running game will keep them in most games.
Another extremely balanced division, as all four teams will have a shot at the playoffs. Atlanta overachieved in 2004, riding a last place schedule, but this year they come back to earth. I’m afraid that the Saints, playing without a homefield all year, will wear down by the end of the season.
Hold your nose. I don’t think any team in the West will have a record over .500. While I think the Cardinals are the most talented team in the division, they have to play Carolina and Philly at home, which will cost them a winning record. Flip a coin between Seattle and St. Louis, but I lean towards Seattle, as Hasselback is slightly better than Bulger.
NFC Wildcards: Tampa Bay and Dallas- The Bucs are not going to be pretty, but their running game and defense make them a difficult match-up. I don’t really like the Cowboys roster, but the coaching of Parcells and an advantageous schedule slide them into a wild card spot.
NFC Championship- Carolina over Philadelphia
Super Bowl- Indy over Carolina