2012 Sports with Balls Blog NFC Preview

Labor Day has come and gone along with the summer. The fall season has arrived along side the 2012 NFL season.  As we get ready for the kick off of the seasons first Sunday, here is the Sports with Balls Blog NFC Preview:

Each member of the SwBS staff submitted a ballot, which was tabulated to form consensus picks. Individual Division and Wild Card picks for each staff member can be viewed at the bottom of the page.  

An asterisk (*) denotes a consensus wild card winner.

NFC East

1. New York Giants – “The Giants will try to ride the wave of 2011’s miracle Super Bowl run. Despite key injuries in the secondary, the Giants actually come into 2012 a lot healthier than they were one year ago. The defensive line is as good a unit as there is in the game, and Eli Manning still has Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks to throw to. The Giants certainly bring back playoff talent, but they’ll have to survive the NFL’s toughest schedule in order to even make the postseason to defend their title.” – Matt Sherman

2. Philadelphia Eagles * – “To be frank, it’s all on Mr. Vick’s shoulders. This offense ranked 4th in yards per game last year, but was unglued by turnovers. For a team that averaged 24 points per game, the offense came up just as small as the defense did in the 4th quarter. The defense is improved with the additions of DeMeco Ryans, Fletcher Cox, and Mychael Kendricks among others, and will rush the passer at will. If Vick plays as a top 10 QB, they will likely find themselves playing deep in January and if he doesn’t, he and Reid will be gone.” – Warren Croxton

3. Dallas Cowboys – “Per usual there is big hype and big expectations in Big D. The defense was poor last year and is a principle reason the Cowboys slumped down the stretch. Dallas upgraded their corners by adding Brandon Carr and drafting Morris Claiborne allowing Rob Ryan to attack more in his scheme. The offense gets a boost with the return of DeMarco Murray who was off to a fantastic start to 2011 season before an ankle injury. Still is comes down to the enigma that is Tony Romo on the offensive side of the ball. Will this be the year he wins a couple big games late in the season and playoffs?” – William Fucich

4. Washington Redskins – “The expectations across the nation is that the Redskins are very likely to finish dead last in the tough NFC East. That may very well happen but they also are certainly on the right path with the addition of Robert Griffin III.  Griffin alone will bring a renewed sense of excitement and optimism that hasn’t been seen in DC for quite a while.” – Mike Orzechowski

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers – “They return the same explosive offense that won 15 games last season. Cedric Benson was added to the backfield and will give them a veteran presence in the running game which they lacked for most of 2011. The Packers spent their entire draft upgrading a defense that gave up a ton of yards and points.” – Scott Boutcher

2. Chicago Bears * – “The Bears looked like a playoff team last year until Jay Cutler went down and the team stumbled to the finish line. This year, Cutler reunites with WR Brandon Marshall to go with a solid running game led by Matt Forte. The defense has some miles on it, but still ranked among the top half of the league in most categories in 2011. The Bears likely won’t catch the Packers in the NFC North, but they should be in the wildcard hunt.” – Matt Sherman

3. Detroit Lions – “After a season that saw them reach the playoffs for the first time in over a decade the Lions are a hot pick to come back to earth. If Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson stay healthy the Lions will never actually be out of a game, but that doesn’t mean that this team is going to match last year’s result. They have shown no semblance of a running game and their defensive backfield is a combination mess and mash unit. Expect the front 7 on defense to improve a bit but overall they may take a slight step back in 2012.” – Michael Bedard

4. Minnesota Vikings – “Christian Ponder is one of several starting QB’s entering their second professional season and the Vikings need him to continue his development in order to contend in 2012. Perhaps even more important than Ponder’s development is the health of all-pro back Adrian Peterson who is recovering from a sever knee injury. A healthy Peterson will help take pressure off the Vikings young QB and the Vikings defense. Lack of depth at wide receiver could also have significant effect on this team.” – Glenn Coyle

NFC South

1. Atlanta Falcons – “The Falcons have felt like a team that is just one piece short for 5 years now. They’ve assembled an array of options specifically to open up the game for Matt Ryan and in 2012 they may finally have the tools to get it done. Julio Jones and Roddy White make up one of the better 1-2 punches in the NFL and Tony Gonzales is still a solid professional tight end. Michael Turner has support in the backfield which should help the tread stay on the tires. Asante Samuel struggled in the strangeness that was Philadelphia in 2011 but with a settled yet fairly quiet but effective group in Atlanta expect him to have a resurgent year. We’re in the window for the Falcons to make noise and if they fail this season it could be the beginning of the end.” – Michael Bedard

2. New Orleans Saints –  “The Saints return much the same star-studded offense that dominated defenses throughout the 2011 regular season.  While they certainly still have the talent to make a deep postseason run, they also hold their fair share of distractions.  Numerous coaches and players will be serving suspensions in the wake of the bounty scandal including a full year from Head Coach Sean Payton.  The scandal along with the lingering effects of yet another hurricane and contract disputes could prove to be a little too much to overcome. Also New Orleans is hosting the Super Bowl this season and that usually doesn’t work out for the team in the host city.” – Mike Orzechowski

3. Carolina Panthers – “The Panthers became one of the most exciting teams to watch last season thanks to then rookie QB Cam Newton, who set multiple rookie records. Now they are a popular pick to reach there second Super Bowl. In addition to Newtown the Panthers have a dynamic top receiver in Steve Smith, and the one-two running back punch of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The key to the Panthers team this year will be improving their defense which suffered several key injuries last season and cost them multiple wins.” – Glenn Coyle

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – “Hard to make sense of a team who flat-out quit the second half of 2011, still the Bucs are a young team with some very nice talent. New head coach Greg Schiano brings a run first philosophy to Tampa Bay and with LeGarrette Blount and Doug Martin he has a diverse group of backs. Josh Freeman needs to play more like the 2010 version, with Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark added to the roster; he has the supporting cast to do so. Defensively the team has some trouble spots, particularly the interior line and linebackers.” – William Fucich

NFC West

1. San Francisco 49ers – “They tried their best to add weapons for Alex Smith with the likes of A.J Jenkins, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss. The Niners had an offense ranked in 11th in total offense, but 29th in passing yards per game because they made Smith a game manager. For the team to win the Super Bowl, Smith has to take the next step. We all know about the defense and the running game, but can Alex Smith be the one to win a Super Bowl?” – Warren Croxton

2. Seattle Seahawks – “After giving QB Matt Flynn a nice contract essentially based on one regular season game, the Seahawks have instead handed the reins to the dynamic Russell Wilson. Either way, the Seahawks should be much better in the QB department than they were one year ago, which is a nice complement to steady RB Marshawn Lynch. In a still weak NFC West, Seattle is clearly the 49ers’ main competition for a repeat division title.” – Matt Sherman

3. St. Louis Rams – “There is nowhere to go but up for this team. Sam Bradford enters his fourth year as the franchise player and Jeff Fischer takes over the coaching reigns. Bradford must remain healthy and protected in order for the Rams to contend in a division with only one dominant team. Steven Jackson is still a premiere back despite his age and will have to carry much of the offensive burden for a team which struggled in many areas on both sides of the ball. Chris Long and James Laurinaitis are the leaders on defense who hope to restore optimism in St. Louis.” –Glenn Coyle

4. Arizona Cardinals – “The Cards have given the offensive keys to John Skelton to run. They need Beanie Wells to stay healthy to make their offense more than just the Larry Fitz show. Patrick Peterson needs to continue to be a shut down corner and explosive x-factor in the return game.” –Scott Boutcher

Individual SwBS Staff Picks:

Mike Orzechowski

NFC East – Dallas Cowboys

NFC North – Chicago Bears

NFC South – Atlanta Falcons

NFC West – San Francisco 49ers

Wild Cards – Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles

Scott Boutcher

NFC East – New York Giants

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

NFC South – New Orleans Saints

NFC West – San Francisco 49ers

Wild Cards – Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers

Warren Croxton

NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

NFC South –  Atlanta Falcons

NFC West – San Francisco 49ers

Wild Cards – Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints

Matt Sherman

NFC East – New York Giants

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

NFC South – Carolina Panthers

NFC West – San Francisco 49ers

Wild Cards – Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears

William Fucich

NFC East – New York Giants

NFC North – Chicago Bears

NFC South – Atlanta Falcons

NFC West – San Francisco 49ers

Wild Cards – Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks

Glenn Coyle

NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

NFC South – Carolina Panthers

NFC West – San Francisco 49ers

Wild Cards – New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons

Michael Bedard

NFC East – Dallas Cowboys

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

NFC South – New Orleans Saints

NFC West – San Francisco 49ers

Wild Cards – Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons

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-The 2012 SwBS AFC Preview can be found here along with Super Bowl predictions here.

-Also check out the Sports with Balls Radio Show live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. here.

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2 thoughts on “2012 Sports with Balls Blog NFC Preview

  1. Pingback: 2012 Sports with Balls Blog AFC Preview | Sports With Balls Blog

  2. Pingback: 2012 Sports with Balls Blog Super Bowl Predictions | Sports With Balls Blog

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