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It's All About The George Halas Trophy In The NFC
In the NFC, there look to be several contenders to the crown.
But it really comes down to who has enough to dethrone the Packers.
There is always the worry about the dreaded Super Bowl Hangover.
Any sort of a letdown, combined with the fact that the Super Bowl champs always get other teams' best shots, could result in Green Bay coming up short of a return to the Big Game.
With not a ton of competition in the NFC North, it's almost a certainty that the Packers will pick up one of the first round byes, which should make their road this year to the Super Bowl a bit easier than last year's.
Look for the Saints to bounce back strong this year and grab the other bye, with the Eagles and Cardinals the other division winners. The Falcons and Cowboys will round out the NFC playoff field as wildcards.
A quick aside before projecting the NFC champion.
If you're an NFC team at the end of the season battling for a divisional title that won't give you a bye and will leave you as the number three seed, and your other option is going ahead and throwing the division to end up as a wildcard and the number five seed, do you throw games so you get to play the NFC West champ in the first round instead of, say, a number six seed that could be a team like the Cowboys or Falcons?
Just a thought and one that has to be pretty scary for the NFL.
The bottom line in the NFC is that the Packers just have too many advantages over the other conference contenders.
They now know they can win.
They are more balanced than any of the other NFC heavyweights.
And the biggest advantage, they are more built to win on the road if necessary than any of the other possible NFC playoff teams.
Think about it, the Packers are built almost like a dome team. It's so much easier to imagine Green Bay going into, say, New Orleans or Atlanta or even Philadelphia and win if they have to than it is to imagine any of those teams going into Lambeau and winning.
In the wildcard round, look for Atlanta to crush the NFC West winner and number three seed Philadelphia to knock off Dallas at home.
This will leave the divisional round as Atlanta at Green Bay and Philadelphia at New Orleans.
Much like the AFC, you can expect a possible offensive shootout in the NFC Championship game, as long as it's not -47 degrees in Green Bay, as the Saints travel to play the Packers.
The Packers will repeat as NFC champs and head back to the Super Bowl to defend their title.
NFC Championship: Packers over Saints