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NFC Conference Preview: Best and Worst Case Scenarios for Each Team

With the NFL season just a week or so away, we decided to break down every team in the NFC and brainstorm some best and worst case scenarios for each of them. Will your favorite team have a chance at the Super Bowl? Will expectations be set on simply contending for a spot in the playoffs? Or is your team in rebuilding mode and fighting for a chance at having the #1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft? Check out all of our analysis and our NFC ‘Best Bets’ below!

You can find all of our betting tips for the AFC on our AFC Conference Predictions and Betting Tips

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys enter this season with one of the more talented rosters in the NFL since they were able to return most of their starters on both sides of the ball. The offense will have a different look under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who has been touted as one of the best upcoming minds in football. The biggest question mark at the moment is whether RB Ezekiel Elliot will suit up for Week 1 if his contract negotiations aren’t settled by then. The defense is shaping up well and has the best young linebacking core in football with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. If Prescott can start making more plays down the field with his arm, then the Cowboys have a serious chance at making some noise in the NFC.

Best Case: The offensive line stays healthy and the defense is able to generate a consistent pass rush to take pressure off the secondary. Prescott, Elliot, and Cooper continue to improve and the Cowboys see themselves making a run at not only the division title but the NFC title as well.

Worst Case: Injuries continue to plague a talented roster and Prescott continues to struggle taking the next steps in his development. Contract speculation around Prescott, Elliot, and Cooper add distractions to the team. The Cowboys have to fight for the NFC East title and could miss out on the postseason.

New York Giants

All of the attention in the Giants’ camp revolves around the quarterback dilemma between future Hall of Famer Eli Manning and newly drafted rookie Daniel Jones. After trading away Odell Beckham Jr. and losing safety Landon Collins in free agency, the Giants now find themselves in a small rebuilding situation, which has left many fans calling for Jones to take the helm at quarterback to help start his development into the future franchise QB. But the Giants’ ownership has publicly voiced their commitment to Eli Manning for at least the beginning of the season. Manning won’t have much to work with on the offensive side of the ball besides star running back Saquon Barkley and the defense is still young and struggles to get generate any sort of pass rush.

Best Case: The Giants start off slow and the staff elects to give Daniel Jones a chance under center. The Giants to well enough to keep the fan-base happy but still end up with a good draft pick.

Worst Case: Manning leads the Giants to a couple early wins and cements the starting job for the entire season. The Giants win enough games to ruin their draft position and they get stuck in a cycle of mediocrity.

New York Giants Saquon Barkley Philadelphia Eagles Malcolm Jenkins NFL

Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz will finally return under center for the Eagles this year and the hope for Eagles’ fans is that he can stay healthy enough to start all 16 games. Philly has a lot of things working for them this year as they enter the season with one of the best offensive lines in football and a great group of offensive skill position players that was boosted by the addition of running back Jordan Howard from the Bears and Miles Sanders through the draft. The defense dealt with a lot of injuries last year and should improve, but there is still concern about the secondary’s ability to stop prolific passing attacks. The return of WR DeSean Jackson is one of the most underrated pickups of the offseason, as his speed will draw attention and open up space for others on underneath throws and quick passing routes.

Best Case: Wentz returns to his pre-injury form and leads the Eagles on a mission to the Super Bowl. If the roster stays healthy, the Eagles could very lift the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.

Worst Case: Wentz’s back and knee continue to limit his range and mobility, the secondary struggles to keep them in games, and the offensive line doesn’t perform as well as expected. The Eagles are left fighting for the NFC East title.

Washington Redskins 

It’s going to be a tough year for Redskins’ fans. The biggest question is when is rookie QB Dwayne Haskins going to be given the starting job over Case Keenum. The offense has arguably the worst group of skill players in the league, especially at wide receiver. The defense has a lot of talent in their front seven, but their inability to stop the run could cause problems again this year. All in all, it’s a heavy rebuild in Washington and it will be surprising if HC Jay Gruden still has his job after this season.

Best Case: Haskins shines and the defensive talent makes enough plays to help the Redskins to a couple of upset wins, but at the end of the day the Redskins will still be in contention for a top draft pick.

Worst Case: The offensive line continues to struggle and both Keenum and Haskins make too many mistakes and the defense is unable to stop the run. Washington finds themselves in a battle for the #1 pick in next year’s draft.

NFC East Betting Recommendation:

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NFC North

Chicago Bears

It will be hard to replicate what the Bears were able to accomplish last season. This offseason brought a couple of serious changes, including the loss of DC Vic Fangio, CB Bryce Callahan, and S Adrian Amos. The defense will still be one of the best in football, but this season’s success will depend on how QB Mitchel Trubisky performs in his third year in the league. Trubisky has struggled in his first couple of years, especially when trying to make plays down the field with his arm. He is the ultimate x-factor for a team that still should have the most dominating defense in the NFL.

Best Case: Trubisky shows major signs of improvement, especially in reading defenses and making intermediate-to-long throws. The defense dominates yet again and the Bears find themselves gunning for a trip to the Super Bowl.

Worst Case: Trubisky continues to struggle and the losses on defense have a larger impact than expected. In a crowded NFC playoff picture, the Bears fail to make the playoffs.

NFL - Chicago Bears - Jordan Howard, Khalil Mack

Detroit Lions

Last year was a bit of a rough transition for the Lions under new head coach Matt Patricia. Detroit began to run the ball more and slow down their pace of play, and this ended up hurting the production of QB Matthew Stafford. The Lions lost Golden Tate and a couple of other contributors, but this year should bring some slight improvement on the defensive side of the ball. The run defense stepped up after the acquisition of Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison last season and he should continue to be the focal point of a young defense.

Best Case: Stafford is able to carry the offensive load and the defense is able to generate a pass rush without the freshly departed Ziggy Ansah. The Lions win a couple of games against good opponents and end up with around six wins.

Worst Case: The offense continues to regress under Patricia and Stafford is a turnover machine as he tries to make up for the lack of talent. The defense continues to show signs of inconsistency and an inability to prevent large chunk plays.

Green Bay Packers

It should be an interesting year for Green Bay as we wait to see how the relationship between new head coach Matt LaFleur and QB Aaron Rodgers pans out. When healthy, the Packers have one of the best offenses in football and this offseason they also made a serious committement to improving on the defensive side of the ball. With a plethora of defensive signings, the Packers are hoping that the defense can hold opposing offenses enough to give Rodgers a shot to win late in games. Rodgers should have a lot of success now that he has an offensive-minded coach, stable running back, and a good group of young talented receivers that know how to create separation and make plays in space.

Best Case: Rodgers stays heathy and has an incredible year leading the re-designed offense. Through their offseason signings, the revamped defense is able to create turnovers and keep them in games, which could lead to the Packers contending for a Super Bowl.

Worst Case: Rodgers is a shell of his former self and the overpaid defense continues to disappoint. The Packers find themselves clawing for a playoff spot in a very crowded NFC playoff picture.

Minnesota Vikings

It seems like everyone is sleeping on the Vikings this year. QB Kirk Cousins didn’t have a great year last year but should improve in this new system. The skill positions still have some of the most talent in the league, but its up to the offensive line to win the battle in the trenches in order to not only protect Cousins, but to also open up running lanes for the very talented RB Dalvin Cook. The defense was great last year even though some of their best players either under-performed or were injured.

Best Case: The balance on both sides of the ball is enough to contend for the NFC crown. The WR duo of Theilen and Diggs is too much to handle, especially for some of the other elite NFC teams who struggle in pass coverage.

Worst Case: Cousins continues to disappoint and the defense has another off year. The Vikings hope to finish above .500.

NFC North Betting Recommendation:

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NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Time is running out on this group down in Atlanta. QB Matt Ryan has a plethora of options to work with including a Top 5 receiver in the NFL in Julio Jones, but besides the Super Bowl loss a couple of years ago this group hasn’t been able to accomplish much. The defense still needs a lot of work and could again be the weakest link in the squad, even if all of their starters remain mostly healthy.

Best Case: Matt Ryan and Falcons’ offense returns to being one of the most dangerous units in the league and the defense stay healthy enough to contend. LB Deion Jones stays healthy and helps plug holes in both their run defense and cover defense against RBs out of the backfield. The ceiling is as high as it can go but there are a lot of things that need to go their way if they want to return to the Super Bowl.

Worst Case: The offense continues to struggle in the red zone and QB Matt Ryan can’t do enough to lead the Falcons to the playoffs. The defense struggles to stop the run and the edge rushers disappoint for yet another season.

Carolina Panthers

This season relies on Cam Newton’s health. The dual threat QB has been struggling with some lingering issues the past couple of seasons and is now coming off a recent shoulder surgery. It’s going to be a long year for Panthers’ fans if their franchise quarterback isn’t able to play. On the bright side, there is a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and surely enough to make a push for the NFC South title.

Best Case: Newton is fully healthy and the defense steps up. The Panthers find themselves contending for not only a division spot but also one of the top seeds in the NFC.

Worst Case: Newton’s shoulder continues to bother him and the rest of the skill position player can’t carry the offensive load. The defense continues to struggle away from home and it leads to the Panthers fighting to be a .500 club.

New Orleans Saints

It should be another impressive year for the Saints on both sides of the ball. On offense, they still have one of the most prolific attacks even with RB Mark Ingram now with the Ravens. The defense has a lot of talent but does have a couple older veterans who might see a dip in production this season. It will be interesting to see if head coach Sean Payton continues to embrace a more run-oriented offensive scheme with an an aging Drew Brees at quarterback.

Best Case: The Saints have what it takes to contend for a Super Bowl. If the offensive line stays healthy, Brees doesn’t regress too much, and the defense is able to generate a consistent pass rush to cover up some weaknesses in the secondary, then New Orleans can go all the way.

Worst Case: The loss of Ingram puts too much weight on RB Alvin Kamara and Brees’ production dips. The secondary doesn’t step up and the defensive veterans don’t have much left in the tank, which could lead to an early first round exit for New Orleans.

NFL - New Orleans Saints - Drew Brees

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers head into this season with a lot of question marks under new head coach Bruce Arians. The offense undoubtedly has talent and can put up points in a hurry, but QB Jameis Winston hasn’t shown enough consistency and care for the football so far in his career. The defense might be the worst in football, especially now that they lost LB Kwon Alexander in free agency. It will be a long year for Bucs’ fans but their games should be high-scoring and entertaining to watch.

Best Case: Arians works well with Winston and helps him limit turnovers while still being aggressive on play calling. The young talent on the Bucs’ defense steps up and helps out a bit, but the playoffs are still a long ways away for the organization.

Worst Case: Winston doesn’t improve his ball security and the defense can’t stop anybody, especially in the run game. The Bucs end up in contention for the #1 draft pick.

NFC South Betting Recommendation:

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals certainly made noise this offseason when they chose to make former Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray the #1 pick in the 2019 draft, but now its time to see if head coach Kliff Kingsbury can implement a successful scheme for Murray in the NFL. The Cardinals are pretty thin in terms of offensive talent and the defense has a lot of moving parts, so it will definitely be a growth year for the new-look Cardinals. The biggest question is if the offensive line can do anything to help Murray out, given how horribly they performed last season.

Best Case: Murray’s unique skillset shakes up the league and leads to a couple of upset wins early on but the offensive line isn’t good enough to hold up. The defense has some of its veterans step up but they’ll still feel the effect of missing CB Patrick Peterson for the first six games via suspension. Best case is a couple of wins but not much more.

Worst Case: The Cardinals new-look goes horribly wrong and they end up with the #1 pick yet again.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams have a couple of interesting storylines heading into this season. Its obvious there are still some glaring weaknesses in QB Jared Goff’s game, so its up to Goff to either improve or have head coach Sean McVay fix up his scheme to hide some of those weaknesses. RB Todd Gurley looks to be in trouble with his lingering knee issue, which would be a huge loss for Los Angeles. The team also lost some good talent on both sides of the ball, including DT Ndamukong Suh.

Best Case: The Rams continue to succeed under McVay and contend for the Super Bowl yet again.

Worst Case: Gurley can’t play due to his knee injury and teams begin to figure out how to slow down the Rams’ offense. If the defense struggles to force turnovers like they did at points last year, don’t be surprised if the Rams miss out on the postseason this year.

Philadelphia Eagles vs Los Angeles Rams NFL

San Francisco 49ers

Will this finally be the year we get to see a healthy QB Jimmy Garoppolo? 49ers fans sure hope so because the team sure does have plenty of offensive talent. On the defensive side of the ball, they have a couple really good pieces but still need their 1st round draft pick DE Nick Bosa to help create some interior pressure that they lacked a season ago.

Best Case: Everyone stays healthy and Kyle Shanahan’s offense finally gets a chance to shine. The defense holds up enough to keep them in games and the Niners fight for a playoff spot.

Worst Case: Jimmy G isn’t as good as expected and the defensive changes aren’t enough to support stable success. HC Kyle Shanahan could see himself on the hot seat.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are a toss-up this year because as bad as the roster might seem, QB Russell Wilson and head coach Pete Carroll always find a way to make things work in Seattle. Wilson has a lot of weapons in the backfield but is going to need some more receivers to step up after WR Doug Baldwin’s retirement this offseason. The offensive line needs a lot of work and the defense is middle-of-the-road.

Best Case: Wilson’s creativity shines and the Seahawks dominate time of possession by continuing their run-first attack. The young playmakers on the defensive side of the ball step up and force enough turnovers to make the Seahawks a possible sleeper to make the postseason.

Worst Case: The lack of support both on the offensive line and throughout the defense are too much to overcome. Wilson has a great year but the Seahawks don’t come close to making the playoffs, although they will be competitive in almost every game.

NFC West Betting Recommendation:

Remember, you can keep up to date with all the latest NFL news, betting tips and predictions on our NFL Homepage here.

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