A Sleeping Bear: Discerning The NFC
As Tom Brady launched the last pass of Super Bowl XLII and the New York Giants sideline simultaneously held their breaths, more than just the greatest upset of the twenty-first century was being played out. As the ball fell incomplete and Bill Belichick prematurely walked to the middle of the field to congratulate Tom Coughlin, something besides the end of a dynasty was being completed. The NFC had won just their second Super Bowl since 2000.
Yes, the AFC juggernaut just might have been stopped. With a struggling NFC that just hasn't had the competition of its American counter-part, Strahan and co. made some sparks that could ignite a power-house into domination.
The NFC has the talent, but the coaches need to perfect the A-game. While a hungry bear has been sleeping for nearly 10 years, the New York Football Giants just might have woken him up...
The problem with the NFC is that ANYONE could make the post-season this year. All four divisions are ready to beat down their rivals and make the trip to Tampa Bay.
This group has been the joke of the NFL for quite a few years. But now all four teams are making legitimate claims at a super run.
Why they will make the post-season: The Seahawks are a good team with a good coach. An experienced offense together with an excellent defense, with its latest addition Lawrence Jackson, will stabilize the Qwest Field all season long. This is also Mike Holmgren's last year so it will also be an emotional one.
Why they will fail: The team has good but not great players. With Shaun Alexander being released, there aren't any play makers on offense and the defense really needs someone legendary to lead them.
Comments: The Seahawks should watch their backs as the other three teams of the NFC West are starting to bulk up.
Why they will make the post-season: The Cardinals have enough offensive talent to dominate the Pro Bowl this year. If the Cardinals can find an offensive line and the defense players with motivation, they will be an NFC contender.
Why they will fail: The Cardinals have been projected to win the West for the last five years. They have to get the o-line going, and then they will be unstoppable.
Comments: Leinart, James, Fitzgerald, Boldin, how can they not be good?
St. Louis Rams
Why they will make the post-season: Like the Cardinals, talent, talent, and talent. Good coach, good staff, great fan base, I could go on.
Why they will fail: Defense. The Rams have trouble stopping the other team but Chris Long could change all that.
Comments: The Rams have fixed all the loose ends. Now go and beat out the Seahawks, Cardinals, and 49ers...and pray.
San Francisco 49ers
Why they will make the post-season: The defense is in position to be a suffocating unit. A brand new offensive coordinator is reportedly causing the o' to do wonders.
Why they will fail: Once again, the division will get in the way. New schemes and techniques might take a while to perfect.
Comments: Will Alex Smith finally play like the first-round pick that he is?
The historic rivalries will be renewed and four determined teams will battle it out to the death.
Why they will make the post-season: The new quarterback will face major pressure from the media but the support of Green Bay will be with him. A play-making defense and well-coached offense just might drive this team to the top.
Why they will fail: A difficult schedule and the pressure to make it back to the NFC Championship Game won't give the Pack any type of boost they need.
Comments: Will Aaron Rogers be able to grow feet big enough to fit those ginormous shoes?
Why they will make the post-season: The offense has all the weapons and the defense is smart and ready to go. A number of well-decided additions will stabilize the team.
Why they will fail: Along with additions, the Vikings have also lost quite a few players. With the quarterback position up for grabs, the offensive scheme has yet to be decided.
Comments: If Adrian Peterson can step up and take control of the offensive leadership, watch out!
Why they will make the post-season: Rex Grossman really is not that bad. If he can be taught how to play his position with the intelligence of Manning or Favre, the Chicago defense and good ol' Devin Hester will take care of the rest.
Why they will fail: Rex Grossman really is not that good. If he can't learn how to lead the offense, this squad is in for another long year.
Comments: Will the defendant please rise? Now, why did you choose to kick the ball to Devin Hester? Oh really? Prison for life. Case closed.
Why they will make the post-season: Jon Kitna said so. That's about it...
Why they will fail: Just no talent. The skill that they have just isn't very well trained.
Comments: How about...7 wins this season, Jon?
Ah, the legendary division! Unlike the West, each of these teams can make the playoffs because they are good, not because the other three teams are bad.
Why they will make the post-season: 13 pro-bowlers. 13!!!!!!!! Romo, Owens, Barber, and Glenn. The stunning defense and a great coaching staff gives these guys no excuses.
Why they will fail: Bad luck. Tough schedule, equally tough division. Bad luck. Oh wait, I already said that.
New York Giants
Why they will make the post-season: Now the world knows how good Eli Manning and company really are. The high powered offense and great coaches just might be enough to get these guys to Tampa. Just a bonus is that they get to play the Patriots in the pre-season. This should be a fun year for the Giants.
Why they will fail: Strahan is gone, Mitchell is gone. If Pierce does not step up to be the leader of the defense, you can count them out. Being the biggest game on each of their tough opponents' schedules does not help much either.
Comments: Hey Tiki! How is your suckfest of a life right about now?
Why they will make the post-season: Excellent players all over the place, memory of Sean Taylor, and a great running game will bolster the Skins.
Why they will fail: New coach, new schemes, the quarterback is still learning, nothing major...
Comments: Hey look, its Snow White! Oh wait, that's just Clinton Portis doing something random and pointless again.
Why they will make the post-season: Improved defense especially with the one of the best cornerbacks in the league joining the team. This team is bursting with talent and if McNabb can find his groove, the Eagles just might claim the east.
Why they will fail: Philly went 8-8 last year and finished last in the NFC East. This is one tough division! A tough schedule and doubts of McNabb's play will not boost the Eagles very much.
Comments: What have we learned here? NEVER choose to be on the cover of Madden!
The lack of competition last year will not be much different. This will be a boring year for the southeastern cities of the United States.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Why they will make the post-season: The Bucs finally have a decent quarterback and an offense to work with. The defense is superb so there is no reason they should not walk away with the NFC South title again. Warrick Dunn rejoining the team will be a hefty bonus to the running game.
Why they will fail: Making the playoffs won't be hard but the reaching the Super Bowl is a long shot. Despite the easy schedule, the Bucs will wear down pretty easily.
Comments: Playing at home for the Super Bowl would be fun, wouldn't it?
Why they will make the post-season: Amazing offensive bounty. Great coaches. Saints o' can dominate if they can all stay healthy.
Why they will fail: Why is it that when the Saints have a good defense that the offense sucks? And whenever they get a good offense, the defense sucks? The latter is the case here as New Orleans might come close but probably won't do too much in the South.
Comments: Say it isn't so Reggie...
Why they will make the post-season: The Panthers still don't know what they got when they drafted Dwayne Jarrett. If they can get the ball into the play-maker from SC's hands and create a good running game, this offense could be really good! All the young talent they have picked up will definitely create a buzz in the South.
Why they will fail: Brand new coach, Jake Delhomme is coming off of injuries and won't be 100%. The defense is an issue. Lack of play-makers on both sides of the ball. This team just needs motivation.
Comments: So long Vinny!
Why they will make the post-season: Uh...get back to me on that one.
Why they will fail: There is absolutely no reason that they should make any noise. Crummy team, bummer schedule, lack of anyone good on their team (losing Dunn and Hall will hurt them a lot more than most people think).
Comments: I can guarantee that Matt Ryan will be remembered as one of the all time great busts as long as he stays with the Falcons.
There you have it. Can the NFC pull it off again?
I think so. The AFC is good and all but the NFC has some teams that you just can't count out.
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