The Wild Race for 1st Place in the NFC


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Anthony Colavito, Editor in Chief

The NFL regular season is about halfway over. And there are still many questions to be asked and there are also many storylines that continue to develop every week. But one of the most interesting questions regards who the best team in the NFC is. Now all NFL fans can agree that there are about four teams that could win it (give or take) and possibly one dark horse team that can shock the world. The Seahawks, Packers, Buccaneers, and Saints are all top contenders in the competitive conference. And the Cardinals are a dark horse team to win it. Each of the teams that were just mentioned are teams you could make a strong argument that they will come out on top of the NFC, and on the flip side of that, you could easily counter that argument. We will go into each team in the order of the playoff standings as of right now. 

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New Orleans Saints

The Saints are a team that everybody had as a favorite to come out on top of the NFC. Year after year, this team just can’t get it done in the playoffs, as they lost to the Vikings in the wildcard round last year. With a loaded roster, it is hard to see why this team hasn’t gone to the Super Bowl yet. Drew Brees is due for another championship, having the best weapons around him with guys like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Brees seems to be on a decline this year, but Cameron Jordan is leading this defense to be a serviceable counterpart to this very dangerous offense. Every NFC team seems to have a weakness within the conference and a top contender within the conference that they got a big win over . New Orleans beat the division rival Buccaneers twice this year, one of those wins being in Week 9 with a 38-3 blowout win on Sunday Night Football. If it came down to the playoffs, it is tough to predict who would win this matchup, only because this is “Playoff Tom Brady” we are talking about. Brees and the Saints fell to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers 37-30 in week 3. The Saints are a team that could mean serious business if Brees can pick it up like he has in previous years. New Orleans’ success in the playoffs this season all depends on who is in what spot in the playoffs.

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Seattle Seahawks

Led by MVP front runner Russell Wilson, the Seahawks are a top contender in the NFC, as they were the favorites to win the NFC in the beginning of the season. Russell Wilson is leading perhaps one of the best offenses in the leagues with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Lockett and Metcalf have established themselves as one of the top wide receiver duos in the league, as they are one of the most dangerous and have become a matchup nightmare. Wilson has tossed for 28 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions through the first half of the season. Despite this, their defense has been troubling over the last few weeks, and it is showing more and more each week. The addition of Jamal Adams in the offseason seemed like it would take them to the next level, but this defense is nowhere near the level of the Legion of Boom from years ago. The fact that every game is a shootout is a problem, especially if they play an elite defense, because no matter what, every team seems to be able to put up points on the Seahawks. The Bills game is a perfect example.  Against the Bills, Wilson had his worst performance of the season while Josh Allen was able to easily carve up that Seahawks defense. The Seahawks lost shockingly on Sunday Night Football against the Cardinals in Week 7, in what is perhaps the game of the year. Surprisingly, Seattle has still yet to beat a top contender in the NFC, and they have one more meeting with the Cardinals this season, which if they lose that one, it could be trouble. 

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Green Bay Packers

It is time to stop blaming Aaron Rodgers for this team’s shortcomings. There is no need to blame the lack of weapons around him. He has a healthy Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, who has become one of the best dual threat running backs in the league, and the duo of Devin Funchess and Marquez Valdes-Scantling is serviceable to Rodgers. It is the defense that lacks for this Packers team. It is time to stop blaming Rodgers, as he is having an MVP caliber season with the “lack of weapons” around him. As mentioned earlier, this team was able to squeak out a great 37-30 win against the Saints in Week 3. On the flip side of this, Green Bay was embarrassed 38-10 in Week 6 by Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. This is really starting to show the pattern that everyone is beating everyone in the NFC. This might be redundant at this point, but stop blaming the Packers shortcomings on Aaron Rodgers. 

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Perhaps the best team on paper, it is hard to imagine why this team is only 6-3. With Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown, this team is like a Madden franchise roster with no salary cap. Despite this loaded roster, Tampa has experienced some real trouble. A lack of a consistent defense, led by Shaq Barrett, has been the loser of two of their games. They were able to put up points on the Saints in a Week 1 shootout, but it came down to which defense could step up and make a stop, and in the end, Tampa Bay couldn’t. Their trouble to stop Nick Foles and the Bears in Week 5 was also a question mark on how successful Tampa will be. The fact that Nick Foles was able to put up points on the Bucs was troubling. Many people doubted their ability going into week 6’s matchup with the Packers, but Tampa’s defense somehow showed up, holding Aaron Rodgers to only 10 points while putting up 38. We previously mentioned how disastrous the last matchup with the Saints was in the Saints’ entry. This is a team that is going to experience growing pains, that has been said since the beginning of the season. This team seemed to be growing and finally seemed to be clicking, but there have been more questions raised since last Sunday night. But, Tom Brady in the playoffs is dangerous. Especially with the offensive help he has around him now.

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Arizona Cardinals

The biggest dark horse in perhaps the entire league is the Arizona Cardinals. This is a team that has made some of the biggest improvements this offseason. If they had only made the DeAndre Hopkins trade with the Texans, they still could be considered to be the most improved, since Hopkins has made that offense so dynamic. Drafting Isaiah Simmons has been a great move for them as well. Most of the Cardinals’ success can be pointed to Kyler Murray, as he has tossed for 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions. What gives Murrary the edge over other quarterbacks is his ability to run around in the pocket and make plays with his legs. He has run for 543 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Murray is a defensive coordinator’s worst nightmare. The addition of DeAndre Hopkins has helped him as well. Hopkins has hauled in 60 passes for 734 yards and only three touchdowns, making him the deep threat that Murray needs. The Cardinals have a big win over the Seahawks under their belt, but on top of this they have had some troubling losses to the Dolphins and Lions. If the Cardinals can replicate what they did against the Seahawks in Week 7 in their next meeting, this team will be scary to play.