NFC Division Winners in 2017

NFC Division Winners in 2017

Projected NFC Division Winners in 2017

Last week we looked at our choices for the AFC divisional crowns and wild card team. Now we want to take a look at the NFC teams that should secure either a division title or wild card berth by season’s end. Most of these playoff teams shouldn’t come as a shock, but the division winners may surprise you:

2017 NFC East Winner: New York Giants

I’m sure this pick will stir some controversy with Dallas fans, but I have to pick New York here. This choice was even before the suspension to Ezekiel Elliot, but that doesn’t help their cause. I think everyone now knows about the addition of Brandon Marshall, who alongside Odell Beckham Jr and 1st round Tight End pick Evan Engram should give Eli plenty of options to run up the score often. Let’s also not forget that New York gave up the 2nd lowest PPG in the NFL in 2016 (17.8 PPG), so they seem like a well-balanced team. Dallas knows they have a potent offense, but their defense is average at best and they lost a couple key O-line weapons which may change their look a bit. Philadelphia had made some offseason moves but facing New York and Dallas may be a tough task. Washington lost some of their key receiving weapons for Cousins and just won’t look the same this season without them.

2017 NFC North Winner: Green Bay Packers

Are these names starting to look familiar? If you’re hoping for a drastically different playoff picture from 2016 you may be disappointed, as Green Bay has been in the mix for 8 straight years. Aaron Rodgers continues to remain as one of the few elite QBs among the a league of decent-to-good (but not great) quarterbacks, and the addition of Martellus Bennett at TE will give Rodgers another weapon on offense. Minnesota has an elite defense and a chance at a wild card berth, but I don’t see them taking down the Pack. Detroit could make a push for another playoff berth, but they did have luck on their side for most of the season in 2016 and may not be as fortunate this year. Chicago is the weakest in the NFC North, and may just focus on the development of #2 pick Mitchell Trubisky near season’s end.

2017 NFC West Winner: Seattle Seahawks

Seattle has managed to keep many of their core pieces in place, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Russell Wilson will likely be healthier than last season, when he couldn’t do much with his legs, which will open up their offense a bit. Arizona would be the only other team in the conversation, but I think they lost a few key pieces in the offseason and will be relying heavily on an aging Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald which doesn’t bode well. I’ve liked some of the moves that LA has been able to make with their new head coach and with the recent pickup of Sammy Watkins, but they were the worst offense in football by a significant margin last season, and even though Jared Goff is bound to improve some I don’t see it all happening in a year. And then there’s San Francisco, who has issues at nearly every position and has gone into full rebuild mode for 2017 (’nuff said).

2017 NFC South Winner: Atlanta Falcons

This is a division I’m really excited to watch. Just looking at the QBs alone (Ryan, Brees, Newton, Winston) makes it can’t miss action. I still think Atlanta has the offensive firepower and enough defensive playmakers to take the division. However, there have been vast improvements to a couple of the other teams which should make it competitive. Tampa Bay is a team that’s on the rise and should have a strong year. Their offense is stacked now with the addition of Desean Jackson and OJ Howard in the draft, and will make them a playoff contender but most likely for the wild card. Carolina is bound to bounce back after a disappointing 2016 season, but questions about Cam Newton’s shoulder are still lingering. New Orleans is still led by Brees which always gives them a shot, but their deep threat Cooks was traded in the offseason and their defense is still in rough shape.

2017 NFC Wild Card Winners: Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys

As I described above, Tampa Bay has upgraded their offense and will finally give Mike Evans the support around him so that 3rd year QB Jameis Winston can spread the ball around to more options. I think this is the year they finally get back into the playoff mix, and once you’re in you never know what can happen. My other pick is Dallas, assuming they don’t win the NFC East. They still have Dak, Zeke (after 6 games), Bryant, and Witten on offense which should make for a good show. Even for backup RBs they have McFadden and Morris who can both produce at a high level. As long as their defense is average and causes a few turnovers they’ll be able to make some noise in the regular season and beyond.

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