January 3, 2010

Ranking the NFC playoff teams

1. Philadelphia Eagles

Why not the Saints or the Packers, you ask? Because the Eagles have been on a six game winning streak. They come into the playoffs the hottest team out of all of the ones in the NFC. They have the playoff experience along with veteran players and hot new talent. If things play out the same way that they have, the Eagles would easily make the Superbowl.

But the playoff field in the AFC is rough. No teams can be counted as pushovers, and the weakest teams, the Vikings and Cardinals, are both strong enough to reach the Superbowl. So while the Eagles are the favorite, they are not that strong of a favorite.

Projection: Superbowl loss

2. New Orleans Saints- They have the second best record in the NFL, who else would I put here? Even with their recent two losses, the Saints show the form necessary to reach the Superbowl themselves, and if it weren't for the fact that the Eagles are riding much higher, the Saints would be the prohibitive favorite.

Their weaknesses in their last two losses are troubling. If they win their last game, then they are in good shape.  If they lose, however, then count them out. Teams riding three game losing streaks going into the playoffs generally don't have a shot to win it all.

Projection: NFC Championship loss

3. Arizona Cardinals- Yeah, they're maddeningly inconsistent, but so what? They were the same last year, and none of the significant pieces they needed to get through the playoffs before are gone. They are actually doing even better than last year, and thus also have a real chance of getting to the Superbowl.

But their chances are literally 50/50. If the 2008 Cardinals show up for the playoffs again, then they'll win their way back to the Superbowl. If, however, they don't, then expect an early exit.

Projection: Divisional Round loss

4. Dallas Cowboys- I'm giving them the edge over the Packers because Tony Romo is probably better than Aaron Rodgers, and because he seems to have licked his winter failings. With this, the Cowboys will most likely get a win this time in the playoffs, but don't expect too much. They have been pretty disappointing in past years.

Projection: Divisional Round loss

5. Green Bay Packers-This will be the first of many playoff appearances the Packers will have with Aaron Rodgers, but don't count on them to be the most successful. Rodgers is still relatively new as a leader, and the Packers' offensive line has great difficulties protecting him still. The Packers will have many more chances to get playoff wins, but this year doesn't look so good for them.

Projection: Wildcard loss

6. Minnesota Vikings-It's pretty obvious that the Vikings are suffering from Brett Favre's winter sickness. Chances are the Vikings will suffer along with Favre's performance. Sadly, this means that the early dominance the Vikings displayed will translate into a weak finish. The Vikings are this year's Cowboys. They'll be going home early.

Projection: Wildcard loss

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