Who Will Go to the Super Bowl from the NFC?

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Who Will Go to the Super Bowl from the NFC?

By Derek Lofland

With the NFL playoffs set to start this weekend, I will analyze each participant’s strengths, weaknesses, why they will win the Super Bowl, and why they won’t make it.

What could be considered a successful postseason, and what the odds of playing in Tampa on Feb. 1, 2009 are for a shot at the Lombardy Trophy.

At the end, I will make my own prediction on how the NFC will pan out. Who meets in the conference’s championship game, and who represents it in the Super Bowl.


New York Giants (NFC No. 1 Seed)

Quick Stats:


1) W/L Record: 12-4
2) Points Scored: 26.7 / game (third)
3) Points Allowed: 18.4 / game (fifth)
4) Yards Gained: 355.9 / game (seventh)
5) Yards Allowed: 292.0 / game (fifth)

Strengths

This is arguably the most balanced team in the NFL. They finished in the top 10 in the four statistical areas I listed above. They have a fantastic quarterback in Eli Manning. He was able to put together a Pro Bowl season for the first time in his career. They have Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Ahmad Bradshaw (aka Earth, Wind, and Fire); which helped the Giants lead the NFL in rushing yards per game.

The Giant’s defense is very balanced as well. They are effective at stopping both the run and the pass. Justin Tuck, who is among the best defensive ends in the NFL, leads them. When you add in that they are the defending champions, this is a team that expects to contend for the Super Bowl title. 

Weaknesses

Brandon Jacobs is entering the playoffs injured. He missed two of his last three games. They are also missing Plaxico Burress, who injured his leg in the most famous self-inflicted wound of the season. Without those two, this offense is not nearly as dangerous.

Those ijuries caused them to lose three of their last four games, although many starters rested against the Vikings. The Giants entered the 2007 playoffs with all the momentum they could ask for. They enter this year’s playoffs with a big win over Carolina and little else. 

Why This Team Will Win the Super Bowl

They were the best team in the NFC through the first 12 games, going 11-1. They had some distractions and injuries, but were able to beat Carolina to secure home field throughout the NFC playoffs. They have the experience of winning the title last year. Never underestimate the heart of a champion, especially when that champion is the NFC’s No. 1 seed. 

Why This Team Will Not Make the Super Bowl

It’s very hard to repeat. The last team to repeat was the ‘03 and ‘04 Patriots. The last team before that were the ‘97 and ‘98 Broncos. While the Giants have a lot of weapons on both sides of the ball, they lack a go to receiver and their star running back is a little injured right now. While they have an extra week to get healthy, they have bitten off more adversity than they can chew. 

What Would Be Considered a Successful Postseason

This team expected to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. Anything short of a second straight Super Bowl victory will be a disappointment. 

30 percent chance of playing football on 02/01/2009


Carolina Panthers (NFC No. 2 Seed)

Quick Stats


1) W/L Record: 12-4
2) Points Scored: 25.9 / game (seventh)
3) Points Allowed: 20.6 / game (12th)
4) Yards Gained: 349.7 / game (10th)
5) Yards Allowed: 331.2 / game (18th)

Strengths

This team is fantastic at running the ball. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for 2,351 yards and 28 rushing touchdowns. When you add in Steve Smith, one of the top receivers in the NFL, defenses have many tough decisions to make. The offensive line can control the line of scrimmage.

On defense, the Panthers have an impact defender that recorded 14.5 sacks. This team has a healthy mix of young players like Jon Beason, Williams, and Stewart to go along with veterans like Delhomme, Smith, and Julius Peppers who have Super Bowl experience from the 2003 season. John Fox is a veteran coach that has been through the playoff wars. 

Weaknesses

When it is all said and done this defense can be exploited. Michael Turner gained 117 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-28 win over the Panthers. The Giants gained over 300 yards in a 34-28 OT win over the Panthers. Aaron Rodgers put up great numbers in a 35-31 loss to the Panthers.

While the defense has not been bad this year, it isn’t as good as the unit from 2003 or 2005. Furthermore, what is Jake Delhomme going to do in the playoffs? He had only 3,288 yards, 15 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and an 84.7 QB rating. He is playoff tested, but what will he do if called upon in the fourth quarter of a close game?

Why This Team Will Win the Super Bowl

They have a first round bye, and host a home playoff game in a stadium they went 8-0. The only place they will have to travel is New York, a place they played well in a 34-28 OT loss to the Giants. The Super Bowl is in Tampa Bay, a stadium they are very familiar with. They are set up very well to make a playoff run. 

Why This Team Will Not Make the Super Bowl

Their defense gives up a big running day to Brandon Jacobs, Michael Turner, Adrian Peterson, or Brian Westbrook. The NFC playoffs are loaded with good backs and the Panthers have shown they can be run on. That’s not a good sign for the playoffs. 

What Would Be Considered a Successful Postseason

This team missed the playoffs in 2006 and 2007, so I don’t think it’s the Super Bowl or bust. This team needs to win a playoff game and play well against the Giants in New York. As long as they don’t lose a home playoff game, they will have had a very successful season.

25 percent chance of playing football on 02/01/2009


Minnesota Vikings (NFC No. 3 Seed)

Quick Stats


1) W/L Record: 10-6
2) Points Scored: 23.7 / game (12th)
3) Points Allowed: 20.8 / game (13th)
4) Yards Gained: 330.5 / game (17th)
5) Yards Allowed: 392.4 / game (sixth)

Strengths

The run defense was the best defense in the NFL in 2008. That is something they also...

 

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