NFL season preview: NFC teams
With the NFL season kicking off tomorrow, we look at the hopes of all 32 teams heading into the 2016 season. Here’s our preview of the 16 teams in the NFC Championship:
Teddy Bridgewater’s injury will severely hurt the Vikings playoff chances but there’s still enough talent to overcome the loss of their quarterback. Running back Adrian Peterson and the talented defense can carry this team into the playoffs.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers gets his number one target, Jordy Nelson, back from injury. Running back Eddie Lacy is also looking fit. Should have enough experience and quality to make the post-season.
The Detroit Lions will struggle but have some good receiving options for Matthew Stafford, while it’s hard to see the Chicago Bears producing anything exciting this year.
Players to watch: Aaron Rodgers (Packers), Adrian Peterson (Vikings), Alshon Jeffery (Bears) and Ameer Abdullah (Lions)
The Carolina Panthers will dominate the south again this year. Quarterback Cam Newton has Kelvin Benjamin back from injury as another receiving option, while Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis should pick up where they left off last year in shutting down opposing offenses.
The Atlanta Falcons are an inconsistent team and can be damaging when they get it together. Look for stars Julio Jones and Davonta Freeman to shine. Will most likely finish middle of the road again.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have another year of improvement. Quarterback Jameis Winston will continue to get better, while other key players Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Doug Martin will dominate.
For the New Orleans Saints anything is possible with Drew Brees under centre and Sean Payton at the helm, however it’s hard to see the Saints doing much this year with little talent on the roster.
Players to watch: Luke Kuechly (Panthers), Julio Jones (Falcons), Drew Brees (Saints) and Jameis Winston (Buccaneers)
The NFC East is a tough one to pick. The Dallas Cowboys have an immensely talented offense, however the back injury to quarterback Tony Romo could hurt their playoff chances. Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott should have a field day behind the best offensive line in the league.
The New York Giants have stability on offense with quarterback Eli Manning, receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz and an unchanged O-line. On defense, Jason Pierre-Paul will still be a solid contributor, while they will look for big plays from free agent signing Janoris Jenkins.
The Washington Redskins won the east last year and have the talent to do it again. They’ll rely heavily on underrated quarterback Kirk Cousins and emerging tight end Jordan Reed.
The Philadelphia Eagles can’t be discounted. They will start rookie quarterback Carson Wentz after trading Sam Bradford to the Vikings. The Eagles’ front seven could help them win matches, with disruptive lineman Fletcher Cox one of the best defensive linemen in the league.
Players to watch: Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants), Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys), Josh Norman (Redskins) and Carson Wentz (Eagles)
Another tough division to split mainly because the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals will both be very good again. The Cardinals have the most talented roster in the league and the addition of Chandler Jones will be a massive boost to the pass rush. Quarterback Carson Palmer will be key to their fortunes.
The Seahawks also have talent through their entire roster. The ‘Legion of Boom’ led by Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas will be out to dominate again this season, while Russell Wilson will lead the offense with aplomb. Christine Michael and Thomas Rawls will help fill the void left by Marshawn Lynch.
After the move from St Louis to Los Angeles, the Rams will be looking to bring success to California straight away but might struggle with inexperienced quarterbacks, while the San Francisco 49ers will most likely struggle this season and claim a top 5 draft pick.
Players to watch: Russell Wilson (Seahawks), Chandler Jones (Cardinals), Todd Gurley (Rams) and Blaine Gabbert (49ers)