The NFC is up for grabs this year as there are a lot of great teams competing for just six playoff spots. The NFC East, North, and South are all expected to be very close. Predicting playoff spots in 2012 in this conference is not easy. Here are my 2012 NFC predictions.
1. Packers (13-3)
Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to an incredible 15-1 season last year. While I don’t think they will be as dominant with an improved NFC this year, they should have another tremendous season with their top five quarterback under center. Green Bay also added Cedric Benson to a rushing attack that was non-existent last season. The Packers’ offense is nearly impossible to stop and their defense is one of the best in the league. Expect them to win the NFC North with a 13-3 record.
2. 49ers (12-4)
The 49ers might be the scariest team in the NFL all around. They have a top five defense, a top five running game, and a lot of talent for Alex Smith to throw to. San Francisco added former Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham making them even more dangerous. Alex Smith is only getting better as everyone saw last season leading his team to the NFC Championship against the Giants. Look for the 49ers to cruise in the NFC West finishing 12-4.
3. Saints (12-4)
The Saints might have lost head coach Sean Payton for the season due to suspension, but they did not lose anyone on the field due to the bounty scandal. The suspensions of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith were overturned and they are eligible to play week one. That is huge for a defense that desperately needs both players. They have their key defensive players back and they still have that scary offense. Drew Brees is now a very happy and rich man. Expect him to lead New Orleans to an NFC South title and a 12-4 record.
4. Eagles (11-5)
The Eagles finished the 2011 season hot. After struggling last season, they came awfully close to coming out on top in the NFC East. The key is for Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and LeSean McCoy to stay healthy. This team has enough talent on both sides of the ball to win in an NFC East division that could be the most competitive in the NFL this season. Look for Andy Reid’s crew to come back with a vengeance this season and take the NFC East crown away from the Giants finishing with an 11-5 record.
5. Bears (10-6)
The Bears were not able to stay healthy last season. Losing Jay Cutler and Matt Forte were too tough of a blow for them to have any shot last season. Cutler is happy to have Brandon Marshall in town to throw to. The Bears offense should put up points and their defense does not give up many. With one of the better defenses in the NFL and an improved offense, look for Chicago to grab a Wild Card spot finishing 10-6.
6. Giants (10-6)
While the defending Super Bowl champs lost a couple of big pieces in Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs, they still have an ELI-te quarterback under center. Eli Manning did it again last season down the stretch as he won his second Super Bowl in the last four seasons. Manning will have to carry this team as the Giants’ secondary is not very strong this year. Expect the Super Bowl MVP to bring Big Blue back to the playoffs with a 10-6 record.
The NFC can be won by any of these playoff teams, but there is one team that has it all. The San Francisco 49ers have a dominant defense and an improved offense with a quarterback who looks ready to take the next step. It’s so tough to pick a winner in this conference, but look for the 49ers to top the Packers in the NFC Championship. A 49ers-Patriots Super Bowl will be one of the best in history, but Tom Brady will top Alex Smith on February 3rd.