Now we’re looking at which teams in the NFC are going to bounce back to have an impressive season in 2018.
The Giants entered the 2017 season with high hopes following a visit to the playoffs in 2016 under Ben McAdoo. Those hopes were dashed after a stream of injuries to receivers including star receiver Odell Beckham missing most of the season. That, and an odd decision to replace quarterback Eli Manning led to a reset in the front office and head coach position. Through free agency and the draft, new GM Dave Gettleman has impressed by bringing in reinforcements on the O-Line and picking star running back Saquan Barkley in the first-round of the draft. This will give the Giants a great looking offence on paper which new head coach Pat Shurmur can utilise on the pitch. The biggest hurdle for the Giants is the quality of the other teams in the NFC East. They must compete with Superbowl winners the Eagles as well as good looking Cowboys team. Those two teams will begin the season as favourites to make it to the playoffs. The other inter division is the Washington Redskins, however even with veteran quarterback Alex Smith in the house, hopes aren’t high for the capitals team. Chances of the Giants making it to the playoffs – 40%. I think the Eagles will continue to be strong and the Cowboys will have a bouceback season on the heels of Ezekiel Elliot.
In the west, the 49ers are brimming with confidence following a strong ending to the 2017 season. New quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has penned a long-term contract, the O-Line has got stronger and the defence has some leadership and experience in it now with the acquisition of long-time Seahawks villain Richard Sherman. The west probably isn’t as strong as the east though with the Seahawks firmly in re-build mode and the Cardinals with a new coaching staff and quarterback. The big rival for the 49ers will be the LA Rams. Sean McVay had an impressive first year in LA and they’ve continued to strengthen their team, specifically on defence where they’ve acquired Ndamukong Suh, Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Safe to say that the LA Rams are one of the favourites in the NFC to get to the Superbowl! Chances of 49ers making the playoffs – I’ll give them a 70% chance, but through the wild card with the Rams winning the division.
The NFC North could be one of the strongest divisions in the league with Aaron Rodgers back to lead the Packers, the Vikings coming off a strong 2017 and the Lions harbouring a new coaching staff from the Belichick tree. Saying that, the Bears have been getting a lot of love through the off-season with new coach Matt Nagy coming in from Kansas and Mitch Trubisky now having some decent weapons to throw to – Allen Robinson coming in being key. As well as that, the Bears shored up their defence when taking the top linebacker Roquan Smith in the first-round of the draft. This could be a division that sees three teams make the playoffs. However, I think it’ll take a little longer for the Bears to properly gel and a such give them a 30% chance of making the playoffs and it’ll rely on the Vikings or Packers dropping a fair few games.
Finally, the Buccaneers in the NFC South. The other three teams all made it to the playoffs in 2017 and to be honest, whilst they have improved on the defensive line, I don’t see the Buccaneers making it out of the division in 2018. The other three teams are too strong and I’m still not a fan of the Bucs offence. Jamies Winston will miss the first few games due to suspension which doesn’t help but realistically, the coaching staff needs an overhaul before this franchise goes anywhere. Chances of making the playoffs: 5% (and that’s being generous)