NFL Takes, TooAthletic Takes

In the NFC, playoff berths are always hard fought and well-earned come January, and with only three teams expected to reach double digit victories, the conference might sort itself out pretty quickly as the contenders rise and the pretenders fall.  Two of those three teams fought to a regulation draw last year; will the NFC give us a rematch this year?  Or will another championship contender emerge from the crowd to claim the conference crowd and play in Super Bowl LIV in February?

The longer running back Ezekiel Elliott holds out from the Dallas Cowboys looking for a new contract, the more of a favorite the Philadelphia Eagles become to win the NFC East.  As the teams in New York and Washington slowly try to return to glory, this division is clearly the Eagles to lose, with only the Cowboys close to being talented enough to challenge them.  With money being more important than wins to most of the star players with the Lone Star on their helmets, however, short of another injury to quarterback Carson Wentz, Philadelphia should run away with the NFC East by at least two games.

Will Aaron Rodgers play well with his new head coach Matt LaFleur is a big question facing fans of the Green Bay Packers as well as the other teams in the NFC North.  With the Cheeseheads as well as the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears all expected to battle for the division title, ten wins will be a magic number in this division; and if the Packers quarterback shows his new coach how to win games his way early, by the seat of his pants, expect Lambeau Field to host a playoff game come January.

With Cam Newton injured again already, only the Atlanta Falcons should offer any resistance to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South.  While in the NFC West, only the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers could offer some pushback against the Los Angeles Rams as they work to get back to the Super Bowl again this year.  The Saints and Rams will battle the second weekend of the season, and with both teams expected to lap the field in their division, their early season tilt will be must-see television and could even decision where any potential NFC Championship Game rematch is played come January.  While nothing is normally etched in stone when it comes to NFL playoff prediction, it would be a major disappointment for the league as both of these two franchises if the Saints and Rams don’t win their division title and make a deep title run in the postseason.

I have been predicting all summer that the Philadelphia Eagles will return to the Super Bowl this year, and thanks to Ezekiel Elliott making the path a little easier in the regular season, I am going to stick by that prediction.  If the birds can earn home field advantage, a dome team like New Orleans or a west coast team like the Rams will not go to Philadelphia and win outside on the road in cold weather.  And with the Eagles in contention to earn two postseason home games, the road to Super Bowl LIV will travel though Philadelphia, with the Saints once again falling short of the big game by two weeks.


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