Here are the five NFC teams that I believe will be around for the playoffs at the conclusion of the 2007 NFL regular season:
Seattle Seahawks: With Shaun Alexander back and healthy and with the continued improvement of QB Matt Haselback, the rainy city will reign supreme in the NFC West and could roll deep into the playoffs if the defense steps up. A reconfigured offensive line, anchored by Walter Jones, should open holes; a crew of talented receivers, led by Nate Burleson and Ben Obomanu should catch some passes, and a coach whoâ€™s been on the front lines for a long time (Mike Holmgren), could mean that these gulls will perform like ball hawks in the clutch.
St. Louis Rams: With the best running back (Stephen Jackson) in the NFC; an all-pro quarterback (Mark Bulger) and a smart, aggressive head coach (Scott Linehan), the Rams will thrive if they can play any defense at all. The run defense was lamb stew last year, but first-round stud DE Adam Carriker and free agent DL James Hall should help, so that opposing teams wonâ€™t have the luxury of double-teaming Leonard Little on every play. The addition of free agent receivers Drew Bennett and TE Randy McMichael will give Bulger even more weapons than he had last year.
Dallas Cowboys: New Head Coach Wade Phillips will be a breath of fresh air compared to the uptight, controlling Bill Parcells, who is gone but not missed. If QB Tony Romo can stay healthy and focused and the defense plays consistently, the Cowboys could once again be Americaâ€™s Team. RB Marion Barber, WR Terrell Owens and OG Leonard Davis are standouts on offense; up-and-coming studs like OLB DeMarcus Ware, CB Ken Hamlin and DE Marcus Spears are the best defensive players youâ€™ve never heard of.
Chicago Bears: Rex Grossman is the anti-QB, but the Bearsâ€™ defense is so awesome that theyâ€™ll win despite him. If Brian Griese was even halfway decent, heâ€™d be the starter by now. Hopefully, Head Coach Lovie Smith will figure out the situation and dump Grossman before the season is over. Heâ€™s the only thing keeping this team from winning a Super Bowl. A stalwart defense led by veteran S Mike Brown, MLB Brian Urlacher and SS Adam Archuleta will keep the Bears in games. If RB Cedric Benson can ramble downhill and keep Grossmanâ€™s arm at his side, this team could make a second straight trip to the Big One.
Philadelphia Eagles: QB Donovan McNabb is healthy again (donâ€™t hold your breath), RB Brian Westbrook is a diminutive game breaker and the defense is revamped and one year smarter. Head Coach Andy Reid is a great strategist and motivator, too â€“ even though he canâ€™t control his own bratty kids. Off-season moves like getting free agent WR Kevin Curtis and trading for OLB Takeo Spikes will help Philly, while defensive studs like OLB Chris Gocong, DE Javon Kearse and FS Brian Dawkins will keep the offense off the field long enough for them to gel.
NFC Champion: Dallas Cowboys
Next week: My fearless AFC predictions.
Copyright © 2010 Ed Attanasio
America's Team is Back! My '07 NFC Predictions
Copyright © 2010 Ed Attanasio
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