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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | Sept. 4, 2009

NFC predictions: division by division breakdown

By Airman 1st Class Patrick McKenna Capital Flyer sports writer

This is the second of a two-part series.

NFC North Division Champs -
Green Bay Packers:

The Packers boasted a top 5 offense last season despite the fact it was Aaron Rodgers first season as a starter and running back Ryan Grant getting off to a slow start due to injuries. Rodgers has had an outstanding preseason and appears ready to insert himself into the discussion as to who is the best young quarterback in the NFC. If Ryan Grant stays healthy, this offense will light up the scoreboard this season.

The Packers weakness last season was their defense which they attempted to remedy by switching to a 3-4 scheme and drafting defense early and often. Let's be frank, this defense isn't going to resemble the 1985 Bears but as long as they are decent, the Packers should hold off the Vikings.

Speaking of the Vikings, they were a popular pick to take this division even before signing Brett Favre. They have the league's best running in Adrian Peterson and the best run defense in the league. It may be cliché, but come playoff time, teams that can run the ball and stop the run are very dangerous. The Vikings will secure the top Wild Card spot.
Prediction:  Green Bay 12-4
                      Minnesota 10-6
                      Chicago 9-7
                      Detroit 3-13

NFC South Division Champs -
New Orleans Saints:

The Saints have officially taken the title "Greatest Show on Turf" from the Rams and brought it down to the Superdome. Last season, the Saints averaged more than 410 yards per game on offense and that was with star wide receiver Marques Colston missing seven games. Colston is now healthy and he along with Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, Robert Meacham and tight end Jeremy Shockey will give Drew Brees plenty of targets to choose from.

While the Saints will be without defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant for the first four games of the season, the team should be thankful that their opening month will be their easiest. They should get through those four games with, at most, one loss.

The NFC South is going to be one of the most competitive divisions in football this season. The Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers are both solid overall teams that will be in contention all season for the second Wild Card spot. In the end, I give the nod to the team with Drew Brees at the helm.
Prediction: New Orleans 10-6
                     Atlanta 9-7
                     Carolina 9-7
                     Tampa Bay 5-11

NFC West Division Champs -
Arizona Cardinals:

Most pundits chalk the Cardinals improbable Super Bowl run to them playing in the weakest division in football (which is tough to argue). But this team does have talent on both sides of the ball and as long as star wide receiver stays happy and healthy all season this offense will again have no trouble scoring points.
The Cardinals only challenger for the division crown will be the Seattle Seahawks who are coming off a tough 2008 season where core players Matt Hasselbeck, Walter Jones and Patrick Kerney all missed significant time. Hasselbeck appears to be healthy and he now free agent acquisition T.J. Houshmandzadeh at his disposal. The Seahawks will certainly improve on last season's 4-12 record. How much will depend on how well Julius Jones does as the primary back and also how well the team can avoid the injury bug.
In the end, the Cardinals have the talent and the experience to take the division for a second consecutive season.
Arizona Cardinals 10-6
                     Seattle Seahawks 8-8
                     San Francisco 6-10
                     St. Louis 3-13

NFC East Division Champs -
Philadelphia Eagles:

The Eagles followed up last season's 9-6-1 record with an offseason that saw them bring in some big time talent to get them over the hump. And no, I'm not talking about my former franchise QB in Madden 2004, Mike Vick.

The Eagles had one of the best off seasons in the NFL, acquiring Jason Peters to bolster the offensive line and drafting Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy to give Donovan McNabb some more toys to play with.

The NFC East, while certainly still one of the most competitive divisions in football, was weakened with the departures of Terrell Owens and Plaxico Burress from their respective teams. The Redskins added Albert Haynesworth to last year's #4 ranked defense but that will not be enough to overcome their inconsistency on offense. While the Giants and Cowboys will still have solid seasons and compete for Wild Card berths, the Eagles have the balance to take the division.
Prediction: Philadelphia 11-5
                     New York 10-6
                     Dallas 9-7
                     Washington 7-9