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2006 NFC Preview


NFC Season Outlook


Despite being labeled the weaker of the two conferences in the NFL, the National Football Conference will be more competitive in 2006. As many as 12 teams could concievably make the playoffs this year due to the conference growing much deeper from a year ago. The NFC East is a division that could finish in any order. The Giants, Redskins, Cowboys, and Eagles are all capable of claiming the top spot and really no true team has separated itself from the group. The NFC North is still considered the poorest division, despite the resurgence of the Chicago Bears in ’05. The Lions, Packers, and Vikings are still gutter teams until they step up and prove otherwise. The NFC South is arguably the best and most talented of the four divisions. Carolina and Tampa Bay are playoff teams while the Falcons should come strong in ’06 after an 8-8 mediocre finish this past season. The Saints are the wildcard. On paper the offense looks fantastic, but the defense will realistically keep them down. Finally, the NFC West not only holds last year’s representative from the Super Bowl in the Seahawks, but also has one of the more up-and-coming teams in the Cardinals. Arizona is expected to make a play at the postseason, while the Rams should be right on the outside looking in. Despite an impressive draft this past spring the 49ers will be at the bottom.

As much as the Philadelphia Eagles would like to get back to its conference dominance of recent years, not enough was done in the off-season. Everyone else reloaded. The Giants brought in all-pro linebacker LaVar Arrington and cornerback Sam Madison to sure up the defense. The Redskins signed Antwaan Randle El and traded for Brandon Lloyd, creating a wonderful duo to surround superstar wide out Santana Moss. The Cowboys signed none other than Terrell Owens to bolster the offense and will again have a solid defense. Philly still lacks offensive weapons around Donovan McNabb and that will again show when it lack the offense attack needed to compete in this well-rounded division. Washington is the most complete team in the East that is if quarterback Mark Brunell can be called upon throughout the year. Dallas has a more reliable defense than New York even with their new additions, but the Giants are the more deadly offense. At least two teams could have its season extended beyond 16 games.

The Bears should again find itself at the top of the black and blue division. Yes the Packers have Favre for another year and a healthier offensive unit, but the front office traded Javon Walker and found no true replacement for him. As well, A.J. Hawk and Charles Woodson will not be enough to cure the ills of one of the league’s worst defenses. The Vikings will begin year one without Daunte Culpepper as they use veteran Brad Johnson as its number one. The defense is improving and will be the key if the team wants any shot the playoffs. The Lions let go of Joey Harrington but John Kitna or Josh McCown are not good enough to climb out of the dungeon that is last place in the worst division in the NFL.

The best division in the NFC should see the Panthers and Bucs again fight for the top two spots. Mike Vick and the impressive Atlanta running game will look to redeem itself for its awful, unpredicted .500 finish in 2005. Trading for John Abraham on the defensive line will continue to help build the unit. DeAngelo Hall is turning into one of the best shutdown corners around. The Saints will be mighty fun to watch and will be on Monday Night Football for its home opener. Drew Brees should have an instant impact throwing to the likes of Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth. Deuce McAllister and all-world rookie Reggie Bush should continue the thunder and lightning theme that Bush built at USC with college teammate LenDale White. The defense will not be serviceable, so unless Sean Payton’s offense is unstoppable, New Orleans should find itself in front of no one.

The NFC West is Seattle’s for the taking. No one else has the talent to outshine them, but crazier things have happened. The Rams and 49ers will lack the necessary talent to go further than the regular season, but Arizona is a different story. If they fail to make the playoffs, it would be to the depth that this conference has, however there are no more excuses left to use for Dennis Green. With Edgerrin James now able to shine in the backfield and the Cardinals holding the best duo of receivers in the league with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, watch out. Kurt Warner will most likely start and is capable of throwing for 300+ years in the offense. He has shown how fragile he can be, so with Matt Leinart waiting for a chance, expect one of these two to bring success to the desert.

 

NFC FUTURES ODDS

2007 NFC CHAMPIONSHIP-WINNER


 ARIZONA CARDINALS +1500
 ATLANTA FALCONS +1500
 CAROLINA PANTHERS +500
 CHICAGO BEARS +750
 DALLAS COWBOYS +550
 DETROIT LIONS +3600
 GREEN BAY PACKERS +3000
 MINNESOTA VIKINGS +1600
 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS +3000
 NEW YORK GIANTS +850
 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES +1100
 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS +6500
 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS +480
 ST. LOUIS RAMS +2500
 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS +1550
 WASHINGTON REDSKINS +975

 

NFC DIVISIONAL PREDICTIONS


NFC EAST DIVISION -WINNER
 NEW YORK GIANTS +250
 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES +325
 WASHINGTON REDKINS +275
 DALLAS COWBOYS +175


NFC NORTH DIVISION -WINNER

 CHICAGO BEARS -190
 MINNESOTA VIKINGS +320
 DETROIT LIONS +600
 GREEN BAY PACKERS +865


NFC SOUTH DIVISION -WINNER

 CAROLINA PANTHERS -125
 ATLANTA FALCONS +300
 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS +300
 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS +1100


NFC WEST DIVISION -WINNER 
 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -300
 ST LOUIS RAMS +550
 ARIZONA CARDINALS +350
 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS +5000

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