NFL Pro Sports

Lacked and Loaded Playoff Predictions: NFC

 

The leaves have fallen. The cruel marathon that is baseball season is finally over. Family, wanted and unwanted alike, are descending on your home for turkey filled gluttony. It can only mean one thing…the NFL playoff push is here. Sorry boys and girls no fluff in this article we’re getting right into it.

THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE:

#1 Seed: The Philadelphia Eagles. Current Record (8-1). Final Record (14-2)
Remaining Schedule: (@DAL, CHI, @SEA, @LAR, @NYG, OAK, DAL)

I really didn’t want to do it, but by order of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Eagles are going to be the #1 seed.

#1 Reason: The Schedule

  • Without Zeke and Tyrion Smith this Dallas team looks lost. I think the Eagles swarming defense suffocates them and Carson Wentz puts on a show against their leaky defense. The Eagles embarrass their division rival twice in the final seven weeks, even with Zeke possibly back in time for Week 17.
  • Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky has shown some flashes this year, but cannot keep up with Ginger Jesus.
  • The first 2/3s of their three game road trip will be where we truly see how good this Eagles team is against the sturdy Seahawks and the surging Rams. That being said, the Seattle secondary has lost Richard Sherman for the year, and I believe the Philadelphia front seven will be able to contain Russell Wilson. The Rams I don’t believe are for real just yet as they haven’t taken down a truly great defense. The Eagles stumble once out west I just don’t know where.
  • The Eagles might be mistaken for vultures circling Ben Mcadoo come Week 15.
  • While Carr and Wentz both draw Favre comparisons, Wentz has the better supporting cast. Birds cruise to an easy home win.

Barring any major injuries or a complete collapse out west, the Eagles look primed to head into the postseason with the #1 seed. Imagine if the actually get Ajayi going? Might as well book their tickets to stay on Daunte Culpepper’s boat in Minneapolis.

#2 Seed: The New Orleans Saints. Current Record (7-2). Final Record (13-3)
Remaining Schedule: (WSH, @LAR, CAR, @ATL, NYJ, ATL, @TB)

After a shaky start to the season, the Saints have ripped off an impressive seven game winning streak and are primed for a bye week this postseason.

#1 Reason: The Ground Game

In the offseason, the Saints acquired future HOF Adrian Peterson and then traded up in the third round to select RB Alvin Kamara. This left the backfield feeling rather crowded and with serious doubts about Sean Payton’s faith in Mark Ingram. Fast forward to Week 6 and it was AP on his way out not Ingram. Since then, it has looked like the best move by the Saints since Greg Williams’ incentive program. Ingram and Kamara have been the best RB duo in football and have produced the following eye popping stats:

  • Since Week 6, the two have combined for an astonishing 151 ATT, 836 yards, and 5.5 YPC. This doesn’t even factor in what the two of them can do in the receiving game.
  • Since Week 6 they’ve RUSHED for 10 TD’s. Drew Brees has only thrown 5 TD’s in that timeframe
  • DREW BREES HASN’T THROWN FOR 300 YARDS IN THE LAST THREE GAMES

This running game is absolutely demoralizing teams, they ran the ball 24 times straight Sunday against the Bills, and has an opportunistic defense to back it up. With only two games remaining against teams currently slated to be in the playoffs, I love this Saints team down the stretch.

#3 Seed: The Detroit Lions. Current Record(5-4). Final Record (12-4)
Remaining Schedule: (@CHI, MIN, @BAL, @TB, CHI, @CIN, GB)

LACKDADDY WHAT KINDA DRUGZ ARE YOU ON???YOU’RE CALLING A LIONS 9 GAME WINNING STREAK TO NOT ONLY MAKE THE PLAYOFFS BUT WIN THE NFC NORTH??? You’re damn right I am. So c’mon, withdraw your kid’s college fund and take a ride with me.

#1 Reason: Plums https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cIAcXpUuS0

That’s right baby, you know what else has a nice blueish hue? Those Detroit Lions’ unis. You know who’s got a big ol pair of non-GMO, super sized, Whole Food’s pick of the harvest sized plums that put Matt Ryan’s to shame?? Matt Stafford aka “The Real Matty Ice”. Plums win championships just a fact!!!

Sorry guys my inner Mikelberry took over on that one but I really do find it hard to argue with him. Something about Matt Stafford the past few years has given this team a cardiac cats feel to them. No matter how much they’re down, you always feel like they’re in it. Yea, they haven’t had a 100 yard rusher in 61 games(which as a member of the Fullback cult, burns me to my core) but with Matty Ice at the helm, and a surprisingly potent defense, my plums are telling me to go against popular opinion. Oh, there’s also the fact that in their final seven games, the Lions only play two teams with winning records. Who are the two with winning records? Min and GB whom the Lions have each beaten on this year. PLUMS BABY!!!
#4 Seed: The Seattle Seahawks. Current Record(6-3). Final Record(11-5)
Remaining Schedule:(ATL, @SF, PHI, @JAX, STL, @DAL, AZ)

#1 Reason: Experience/I don’t trust the Rams

Of all my playoff picks, this is the one I feel the least sure about. Mostly due to the recent news that Cornerback Richard Sherman will be out for the rest of the season with an Achilles injury. That being said, this team has been to the playoffs the past 5 years, no other NFC team besides Green Bay can boast this, and even sans Sherman, they still can be counted on defensively. Earl Thomas, who is the real heart and soul of this team, is expected to return this week against the Falcons, Kam Chancellor is dealing with some stingers but is expected to play, and Jeremy Lane, Sherman’s backup, is no slouch. The defense, combined with Russell Wilson’s now seemingly annual 2nd half of the season hot streak, has me already feeling better about my pick….In addition to the fact that the Rams next seven opponents are a combined 18 games above .500 even including the lowly 1-9 49ers.

 

#5 Seed: The Minnesota Vikings Current Record(7-2) Final Record(12-4)
Remaining Schedule: (LAR, @DET, @ATL, @CAR, CIN, @GB, CHI)

Despite boasting a 12-4 record, and having one of the best stretches of backup QB play in history, the Vikings are condemned to a #5 seed after a couple crucial road losses down the stretch. That being said, they look to be a very dangerous #5 seed.

#1 Reason: Completeness

Sorry, total cop out but when you examine their game, it’s pretty tough to find any weaknesses. Their biggest strength is by far their defense, which is ranked 4th overall and 2nd against the run anchored by big man Linval Joseph. Against the pass, you have to deal with Everson Griffen(has a sack in 8 straight games) coming around the edge and top DB’s Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes locking down your team’s receivers. On offense first Sammy Sleeves went down and you think oh no, then potential Rookie of the Year candidate Dalvin Cook goes down and  Mike Zimmer’s seat appears to be warming up with a season flirting with disaster. Enter Case Keenum who has been the coolant Zimmer needed. Keenum does just enough using surprising Pro Bowl candidates Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs to put the Vikings in a position to win every week, while minimizing mistakes. To put the cherry on top, they have arguably the best home field advantage in football. When those fans start chanting SKOAL, you feel like you’re about to pillage Britain, not drive your kids home later. In the end, two road losses to the Panthers and Lions down the stretch cost the Vikings the division. Still in the post season though!

#6 Seed: The Carolina Panthers. Current Record(7-3) Final Record(11-5)
Remaining Schedule:(@NYJ, @NO, MIN, GB, TB, @ATL)

Despite patches of inexplicably bad play, Carolina’s defense and a re-emerging Scam Newton anchors them to a playoff spot.

#1 Reason: Grit

It takes a real man to cry on national television and then get back up again. It takes a man oozing the most important intangible in all of sports, to get up and then headbutt the rest of the league in the face, and that’s just what Panthers All-Pro MLB Luke Kuechly has done this year after suffering a horrendous concussion last year. Backed up by his supporting cast of Thomas Davis, Charles Johnson, Kawann Short, and the ageless Julius Peppers(dude has 7.5 sacks this year at age 37??????) Kuechly and Co are like if Rudy and the Little Tank Engine that could had a baby, then that baby climbed Everest before it could walk. They just do not let teams score on them, they’ve held opponents to just 3 points 4 TIMES THIS YEAR. This defense, combined with what appears to be a completely unchained Cam Newton(he’s rushed for over 85 yards in his past two games) will exhaust teams on both sides of the ball and is good enough to get them into the last wildcard spot.

Left out in the night…which is obviously dark, and full of terrors:

Rams: They’re 1st out strictly as a result of who they face the rest of the season. It’s an absolute meat grinder as they play five playoff teams  with top flight defenses. I really want to put them in just on how fun they’ve been to watch this year, but I think King Goffrey and Co aren’t ready just yet to take down playoff defenses.

Falcons: I believed last year’s’ team was an aberration on offense and that a return to the mean was destined all season and I’ve been proved right. Falcons make a late push, but in this year’s NFC, a gentleman’s 9-7 isn’t going to get you to the dance.

Cowboys: It truly is a shame that this team is going to be sans Zeke for the next five games. They were just rounding into form and all my heart thought they had what it took to take down the Eagles not once, but twice to snatch the divisional crown away! Alas, my dreams are nevermore, like our understanding of what a suspension is in the NFL.

Redskins: I mean, I guess they have control over their own destiny if they win out? Their upcoming opponents combined are 15 games below .500, but there’s just not enough surrounding The Great White Hope this year, as he departs Washington for a $30 million a year contract.

That’s it for the NFC, AFC coming soon. Liked it, loved it, hated it, don’t matter to me just let me know and I’ll do better next time.

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