NFC Predictions: Hot Starters and Early Laggers

The NFL season started Thursday and not just with any normal matchup. The season opener included 2 Star quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson. The game could very well have been a season-defining contest for the two teams as they are both serious playoff contenders already and can compete with almost every other team in the league. With that in mind, the main question is, despite the results of the game, which of the two teams will get off to a hot start this season?

Although the Thursday night game will be a great start to the 2020-2021 NFL season, there are many other attention-grabbing games that will take place on Sunday.  Those games include the Atlanta Falcons versus the Seattle Seahawks, the Green Bay Packers versus the Minnesota Vikings and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers versus the New Orleans Saints. With such a riveting slate of games this week, it will be hard to recognize the best teams from the worst.  For that reason, I will now lay out who is most likely to get off to a hot start this season as well as who will have some catching up to do later in the season.

NFC West

The NFC West is home to the Los Angeles Rams, the Arizona Cardinals,  the San Francisco 49ers,  and the Seattle Seahawks. The NFC West has been a great division over the past few years and looks to be one of the best divisions in the NFC once again this season. To get right into things,  I believe that both the  San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks will get off to a hot start while the Cardinals in the Rams will fall behind. The 49ers and Seahawks are both favored to win their first four games and I agree with the predictions considering that both teams have unbelievable talent at the quarterback position and that their defensive abilities can hold any offense in the league to under 10 points per game. On the other hand, I believe that the Cardinals will struggle to get off to a good start this season despite trading for Deandre Hopkins. The only team that I picture the Cardinals being able to defeat in their first four games is the Washington football team, as they struggled to improve their team from last season. The other team that I believe will get off to a slow start is the Los Angeles Rams.  I know this prediction may come as a surprise, but the Rams haven’t been able to maintain a consistent offense since 2018 and they play two of the toughest defenses in the league in their first couple games as they will have to take on the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles. In conclusion,  the 49ers and the Seahawks will very likely get off to a great start this season and seize control of the division, while the Rams in the Cardinals battle with one another to stay out of the last place spot.

Record Predictions After 4 Weeks:

San Francisco 49ers: 4-0

Seattle Seahawks: 3-1 (Loss to the Cowboys)

Las Angeles Rams- 2-2 (Loss to Cowboys and Eagles)

Arizona Cardinals- 1-3 (Only win being vs. Washington)

NFC South

The NFC South has changed up quite a bit since last season and will likely compete in the conference at a much higher level this season. The New Orleans Saints still have their star duo with Drew Brees and Michael Thomas, the Falcons have kept their outstanding offense while adding Todd Gurley to the mix, the Panthers have gotten rid of injury written Cam Newton and replaced him with veteran quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater,  and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have pretty much created a whole new team. With all the changes in the NFC South over the postseason, I can confidently say that all four teams will get off to a hot start. The Saints are favored to win in their first four matchups and not by a small margin. They play the Buccaneers, Raiders, Packers, and lions. The hardest game of those four will likely be the Buccaneers and I believe they will be able to take the win in that matchup helping them to achieve a 4-0 record to start the season. The Saints will be the only undefeated team after week 4 as the three other teams in the NFC South will all be 3-1  and here’s why.  Each of the three teams who will not be undefeated after week 4 plays a team that I just don’t picture them beating. The Falcons most likely loss will go to the Seattle Seahawks in week 1, the Buccaneers most likely lost will go to the Saints in week 1, and the Panthers most likely loss will go to the Buccaneers in week 2. All in all,  the NFC South will likely be a very competitive division this year with multiple teams being serious playoff contenders.

Record Predictions After 4 Weeks:

New Orleans Saints: 4-0

Atlanta Falcons: 3-1 (Loss to Seahawks)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-1 (Loss to Saints)

Carolina Panthers: 3-1 (Loss to Buccaneers)

NFC North 

The NFC North can be either a disappointing or expectation exceeding division this season.  The division houses the Chicago Bears, the Detroit Lions, the Green Bay Packers, and the Minnesota Vikings. The Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings have been stellar teams over the last couple of seasons and have similar rosters this season,  leading me to believe that they will have similar levels of success. On the other hand, the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions have disappointed their fans over the past few years and have not made significant changes either over the offseason, allowing me to consider them to be potentially slow starters this season.  Although I believe that the Packers will finish the season with an impressive record,  I think that they will be one of the slower starters this year. The Packers play three great teams in their first four games with the Lions being their only easy matchup. The Minnesota Vikings are in the opposite situation, being that they play two easy teams in their first four games leaving the Packers and the Texans as their main challengers. The final two teams in the division are the Lions and the Bears who I believe we’ll get off to slow starts. The Bears play only one challenging team in the Falcons within the first four weeks but I think that they will have a tough time defeating their divisional foes in the Detroit Lions. Speaking of the Lions,  Detroit has a tough schedule to start the season, playing both the Packers and the Saints. Overall,  I consider the Minnesota Vikings to be the only team that will get off to a good start in the NFC North.

Record Predictions After 4 Weeks:

Minnesota Vikings: 3-1 (Loss vs. the Texans)

Chicago Bears: 2-2 (Losses vs. the Falcons and Lions)

Green Bay Packers: 1-3 (Win against the Lions)

Detroit Lions: 1-3 (Win against the Bears)

NFC East

The NFC East is thought of to be the least dominant division in the NFC.  Home to the  Cowboys, Giants,  Eagles, and Redskins, the division doesn’t have any teams who have been consistent in having good seasons. The Cowboys have an extremely hard schedule to start the season, playing the Rams, the Falcons, and the Seahawks all in the first 3 weeks. The Giants can relate to the difficulty of the Cowboys schedule as they have to take on the Steelers, the 49ers, and the Rams in their first four weeks. The Eagles have a bit easier of a schedule compared to the rest of the division considering that they’ll play both Washington and Cincinnati in the first 3 weeks. Lastly,  Washington has a somewhat easy schedule,  playing the Cardinals and the Browns in the first 3 weeks.  With all things considered,  I believe that the Eagles and the Cowboys will get off to the quickest starts in the division while the Giants and Washington will struggle to fight their way through their tough schedules.

Record Predictions After 4 Weeks:

Philadelphia Eagles: 3-1 (Loss vs. the 49ers)

Dallas Cowboys: 2-2 (Losses vs. the Falcons and Seahawks)

Washington Football Team: 1-3 (Only Win vs. Cleveland Browns)

New York Giants: 0-4

Recap:

To sum everything up, the NFC is a great conference but is somewhat unpredictable as far as who the biggest competitors will be this season.  The conference has changed in many ways as they of Welcomed multiple star players in Tom Brady and Leonard Fournette as well as many others.  I believe that after incorporating several factors into the equation, there will only be two undefeated teams after 4 weeks of play. I think that those teams will be the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers. On the opposite side of the standings, I think there will only be one team winless after four weeks. Sadly enough that team will most likely be the New York Giants. All in all, there are many questions that will be answered within the first four weeks this season. Many teams will start off hot and many teams will start off cold, but will the true playoff contenders be revealed? Only time will tell…

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