NFL 2012: Predicting The NFC Standings
1) New Orleans Saints: This division will again belong to the Saints in 2012. The Saints have too many weapons on offense led by quarterback Drew Brees and with strong defensive play it will be too much for division foes to overcome. Despite losing head coach Sean Payton for the year due to suspension from Bountygate, the Saints will have another division championship banner in the Super Dome.
2) Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons don't always look the best or play the best but they get the job done and 2012 will be no different. The Falcons, led by quarterback Matt Ryan, will challenge Drew Brees and company but will settle for the NFC's other Wild Card. If the Falcons can play with consistency on defense, they will make noise in 2012.
3) Carolina Panthers: The Panthers have enough offensive weapons to put up points in bunches but the defense must play better if they are to improve on the six wins from a year ago. Second-year quarterback Cam Newton was shattering rookie records a year ago and one must wonder if he will have a sophomore slump in 2012.
Newton must duplicate last season and get help from his defense or the Panthers will once again miss out on the postseason.
4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs are bad. The 4-12 record of a year ago could get worse for Tampa this season due to their schedule. The offense could not score while the defense ranked 29th in the NFL. The Bucs are just not good enough to contend this season and are still a work in progress.
1) San Francisco 49ers: The Niners were the surprise team in the NFL last season, missing a trip to the Super Bowl by one game. Mistakes did them in against a veteran Giants team. Look for second-year coach Jim Harbaugh to lead the Niners to its second straight division title in 2012. The success of the 49ers will depend on how well the feelings of quarterback Alex Smith have healed after the 49ers' pursuit of Peyton Manning in the offseason. If Smith again plays well, the Niners will make another serious push.
2) St. Louis Rams: The Rams missed out on the playoffs in 2010 by one game. Last season, they managed just two wins. They had injuries to deal with, particularly to quarterback Sam Bradford. With the addition of head coach Jeff Fisher and some key free agent signings, the Rams will make a major improvement in 2012 if Bradford stays healthy but this team is still a year or two away from seriously contending.
3) Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals thought they had their man with quarterback Kevin Kolb last season but that did not go as planned. Unfortunately, Kolb is still their best option after missing out in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. He will have weapons to work with but he will have to perform as he did in Philadelphia to keep the Cardinals in contention.
The Cardinals will struggle in 2012 as we could see a change at quarterback at some point this season.
4) Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks believe they have their quarterback of the future in Matt Flynn. They had better hope they are right because Seattle is just not very good.The Seahawks ranked 28th in the NFL offensively a year ago and will have to have another strong year from their ninth ranked defense if they are to avoid a last place finish out west.
There is the complete run down of the NFC. The division champions will be Dallas, Green Bay, New Orleans, and San Francisco with Philadelphia and Atlanta taking the Wild Card spots. The AFC Forecast will be coming to Football Nation on Wednesday.