Of all the foolish preseason opinions, one of the most popular was how dominant the NFC would be over the AFC. Last year, that was clearly the case, but we have been quickly reminded just how much parity there really is in the NFL.
The Eagles, who were supposed to cruise to a 13-3 record and a first-round bye after winning their franchise’s first Super Bowl, have come out of the gates with a flat tire. They have lost three of their first six games, and the sad thing is, that’s good enough for a tie for first in the NFC Least.
Yes, the NFC East is back to being the NFC Least. And this was a division, that was supposed to be one of the best in football. The Cowboys were expected to be a candidate for double-digit wins. The Redskins were supposed to be sniffing ten wins as well with the addition of Alex Smith to their offense and much improved defensive unit. Hell, even the sad, sad Giants were people’s sleeper pick to go to the Super Bowl. Now, the NFC East might be lucky to have a team finish with a winning record.
That’s not the only division with some surprise disappointments, either. The NFC North is full of them. Both the Vikings and the Packers were expected to be legit Super Bowl contenders and have gotten off to quite disappointing 3-2-1 starts. The reality for both of them is it could be a lot worse even though neither of them occupy first place. That spot would belong to the Bears, who hold a 3-2 record after falling to the Dolphins this past weekend. Chicago may be a pleasant surprise, but they certainly do not hold legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. However, that doesn’t mean they are not the best team in the NFC North.
The NFC West is a one-horse race led by the 6-0 Rams. The Seahawks are currently battling at 3-3, but it’s hard seeing them winning more than eight games with their miserable offensive line and depleted defense. The other two teams, the Cardinals and the 49ers, will be battling it out all season for a top draft pick.
Of all the divisions in the NFC, the South remains the most competitive, but that does not mean teams have not taken a step back. New Orleans, who is currently in first place with a 4-1 record, has shown that their defense is significantly worse than it was a season ago. The Panthers don’t look nearly as complete as the team that finished 11-5 last year. And of course, the Falcons have gotten off to an atrocious 2-4 start despite being a popular Super Bowl pick.
If there are two things that are clear through six weeks of the season: We don’t know anything and the Wild Card spots in the NFC are going to be much more attainable than originally thought. 10-6 should easily find themselves in the playoffs, and 9-7 or even 8-8 could be in play for the final spot.
While Atlanta maybe 2-4 now, 9-7 is easily achievable. The Falcons host the Giants on Monday Night Football before they head into their Week 8 bye. A win on Monday would put the Falcons right back in the mix with the opportunity to get healthy over their bye week. Atlanta opens with Washington, Cleveland, and Dallas in their three weeks after the bye. All winnable games, as the team awaits the return of Deion Jones.