It’s that time of year. The regular season has come to an end, and now we play for the chip. However, some NFL teams have a better chance than others. Some groups have legitimate chances to win the Superbowl, some squads could make some noise, and some units are happy to be here. I’ll take a look at the teams in the NFC and see where they fall.
Green Bay Packers:
Many fans spoke about the Packers’ offseason moves, with most of the chattering negative. Green Bay missed out on a wide receiver, traded up to draft Jordan Love, and didn’t address the defensive line. None of those mistakes matter now. Aaron Rodgers, who will receive an MVP trophy this year, led this team to a 13-3 record and the number one seed in the NFC.
Forty-eight passing touchdowns, with 18 to Davante Adams, is not achieved by accident. This offense has been dominant from game one, and more importantly, the defense is improving. The defensive unit got off to a rough start, giving up 25 points per game. However, it held opponents under 20 in four of their last five matchups. What’s even scarier is that the road to the Superbowl goes through Lambeau, where Aaron Rodgers has never played an NFC Conference Championship game. With both sides of the ball clicking and having home-field advantage, the Packers should be punching their ticket to Florida for the big game.
New Orleans Saints:
With a healthy Drew Brees, the Saints can beat anybody in any stadium. Add in the living cheat code at running back that is Alvin Kamara, who had 21 total touchdowns this season, and you have one of the best offenses in the league. However, that’s not where the story ends. This defense has many talents and is one of the best in the league. Giving up only 21 points per game while scoring 30 a game will be channeling to overcome this Saints squad. Then there is the brilliant mind of Sean Payton. This team is hungry to get Brees another ring in his final season as quarterback.
They Can Make Some Noise
Two words: Russel Wilson. There is an argument that Wilson is the best quarterback in the league. However, that’s a conversation for a different day. This discussion is about the Hawks. Seattle is another squad that had puzzling moments, such as losing to the Giants. The Seahawks have turned around entirely this season. First, it was their high-powered offense performing despite terrible defense. The defense has held up, and the offense has struggled to get into a rhythm. However, I don’t expect their offensive woes to continue in the postseason. Wilson has two great targets at his disposal in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and will keep pace with any offense they face. Can the defense make enough plays to get them to the Superbowl? We will see.
Los Angeles Rams:
I hesitate to put the Rams in this group only because of this team’s up and down nature. This defense has elite talent. Aaron Donald may be the best football player, but quarterback Jared Goff has not been what the Rams needed. Only 20 passing touchdowns to 13 interceptions this year is not elite by any standard. The good news for the Rams is Goff doesn’t have to be superb to win. Rely on their defense, their playmakers, and coach Sean McVay’s offensive mind, and Los Angeles could gain momentum. It is worth noting that Goff may not be available for Wild Card weekend because of a thumb injury. If that is the case, they have a good back-up in John Wolford.
Happy to be Here
Washington Football Team:
If Washington played in any other division, they would have been eliminated from the playoffs weeks ago. Alas, this is life in the NFC (L)East. There are positives for this team. They have a great defensive line led by edge-rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat. The return of Alex Smith is also more than just a feel-good story. Smith played well down the stretch and got them to the four seed. Granted, the Eagles stopped trying to win the last game of the season when they benched Jalen Hurts. Had the Eagles won that game, we’d be looking at the 6-10 Giants in the playoffs. So this is the better option.
The Bears got off to a healthy beginning this year at 5-1. However, multiple quarterback changes and unacceptable play from Nick Foles led to a five-game losing streak, and the promises vanished. Now, the nickname “Monsters of the Midway” applies to Chicago’s defense. From Roquan Smith to Khalil Mack and Eddie Jackson, this unit will stymie any offense. Ask the Packers, who struggled against them twice this year. Offensively, they have played much better since naming Mitch Trubisky the starter. More importantly, Matt Nagy passed play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, which revitalized running back David Montgomery so that they could make for an exciting match-up. Unfortunately, the Bears are only here because the Cardinals couldn’t beat backup quarterbacks in back-to-back weeks.
The Wild Card
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Tamba Bay finished the season 11-5, and still, experts considered them a disappointment. Tom Brady, the Bucs’ 43-year old leader, threw for a Tampa Bay record 40 touchdowns this year. Not bad for someone supposedly washed. It doesn’t stop with Brady, however. Tampa has one of the most impressive rosters in the league. Even with the possibility of losing wide receiver Mike Evans for Saturday’s game, they have one of the best collections of skill players ever. By contrast, the defense plays exceptionally. Remember that great offense in Green Bay? The Bucs held them to ten points. They have had some lackluster offensive performances this season, but they are gathering momentum at the right time. The Bucs are the team no one wants to face in the playoffs, and rightfully so. Brady could be adding his seventh ring by season=end.