NFC CONFERENCE PREVIEW

Football is back! Before the Champion Buccaneers kick off the NFL season at home to the Cowboys, we wanted to give you a bitesize look at the AFC & NFC Conferences and give you our best season-long bet per division. 

NFC EAST PREDICTION 

  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. Washington Football Team
  3. New York Giants
  4. Philadelphia Eagles 

The NFC East was a mess last year in which the best (Washington) of a bad bunch made the postseason and ended up one and done. But this is a new year and the Cowboys are able to welcome back Dak Prescott after the QB suffered a serious lower-body injury at the early stages of last season. The Cowboys have an impressive collection of Offensive weapons, Amari Cooper is still an elite route runner whilst Sophomore WR Ceedee Lamb looks like he could be the next Nuk Hopkins and if Zeke Elliot can remember how to hold onto the football this could be an explosive Offense. Of course, the Defense is where Dallas need to improve but early draft picks, Micah Parsons & Kelvin Joseph as well as new Defensive Coordinator, Dan Quinn should see this unit improve. Washington are a good football team, they have an elite Defense, an Offense that boasts weapons and really good coaching but this is also a division that hasn’t had a repeat winner since the Eagles claimed 4-in-a-row from 2001-2004, so whilst this team is better than it was last year with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, he’s also never taken a team to the Playoffs and only ever had two winning seasons as a starting QB, one of which being last year with the Dolphins in which he lost his starting job to rookie Tua Tagovailoa. There’s a lot of hype around this Washington team right now and whilst talented, I think they still have some ways to go before they’re the finished article. The Giants and Eagles I think are much of much as football teams and I went back and forth deciding which team I thought would finish bottom of the division. I think Philly boast the better Offense and I’m a huge fan of first-round selection DeVonta Smith, but ultimately I went with the better Defense of the Giants to give them the edge over Philadelphia.

DIVISION BEST BET: TOP 2 ANY ORDER – DALLAS COWBOYS & WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM @ 6/5 WITH SKYBET. 

NFC NORTH PREDICTION

  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Minnesota Vikings
  3. Chicago Bears
  4. Detroit Lions

We know about the drama surrounding the Packers and reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers this off-season, but the facts are that he will be suiting up for the Pack in 2021 and that means they have to be favourites to take the division. I’m expecting Minnesota to bounce back from a down year to fight Green Bay hard for the division. The Vikings Offense is a dangerous unit with Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson & Adam Thielen all on the field together this is a team that can score points and the acquisition of Patrick Peterson should be able to tide them over in the secondary for at least this season. I’m not a huge fan of the Bears and it’s nothing personal, I just don’t trust Matt Nagy at all. Justin Fields should be able to win this team some games when he’s given the starting job but until then it’s the Andy Dalton era in the Chi and he has some weapons to work with, Allen Robinson is one of the best pass-catchers in the NFL that nobody talks about and his running mate Darnell Mooney impressed last year as a rookie. David Montgomery proved he can be a featured Running Back and Cole Kmet gives them a Redzone mismatch at TE. The loss of Kyle Fuller in the secondary is a blow but they should still be one of the better Defensive units in Football. Replace Nagy with a guy like Bieniemy or Daboll in 2022 and watch this team be a contender. That leaves us with the lowly Lions, who traded away their best player and lost their best WR in FA as well as starting again with a new GM / HC tandem in Brad Holmes & Dan Campbell. Jared Goff replaces Matt Stafford as part of the trade that saw Stafford leave for a shot at a Super Bowl and that isn’t going to help their chances of success this year. The team has a couple of talented playmakers in D’Andre Smith and TJ Hockenson but the rest is a mess and I doubt they win many games in Campbell’s first year, no matter how many kneecaps they bite… 

DIVISION BEST BET: MINNESOTA VIKINGS TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS @ EVENS WITH SKYBET. 

NFC SOUTH PREDICTION

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
  2. New Orleans Saints
  3. Carolina Panthers
  4. Atlanta Falcons

In what might be my favourite division In Football, we find the reigning Super Bowl champions! Tom Brady’s arrival caused a ripple effect that saw him joined by veterans Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, Ndamukong Suh & Jason Pierre-Paul to effectively create a super team in Florida. Although they won the Super Bowl last year they didn’t win the division, getting swept by eventual division winners New Orleans in the regular season before taking their revenge in the playoffs and retire Drew Brees. I expect the Bucs to win the division without much fuss this time around. New Orleans are starting the Jameis Winston era, the former Tampa Bay passer won the battle to replace future HOF’er Brees this off-season and I’m excited to see him under Sean Payton, but the transition to life without Brees and with Michael Thomas missing at least the first 6 weeks of the season a lot is going to ride on Alvin Kamara so whilst they should still be a playoff team, I think there’ll be daylight between them and the Bucs. Tough call for 2nd and 3rd in the division but I’ve gone with the Panthers to finish just behind the Saints and keep their trajectory going in the right direction under Matt Rhule. The Offense has plenty of weapons with CMC, DJ Moore & Robby Anderson and could be really dangerous if Sam Darnold lives up to his potential whilst the Defense is sneaky good with new additions Jaycee Horn, AJ Bouye & Hassan Reddick joining a unit that already boasted guys like Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, Shaq Thompson, Donte Jackson and Jeremy Chinn. If things go right the Panthers could be a very good football team in 2021. Atlanta have a new HC in former Titans OC, Arthur Smith and whilst some teams get an initial boost with a new coach the Falcons instead lost the face of their franchise as Julio Jones was traded to the Titans and not enough has been done to strengthen an underwhelming Defense. Atlanta lost their last 5 games to end the season last year and I’m not sure they do much better this time around. 

DIVISION BEST BET: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS TO WIN THE DIVISION @ 1/2 WITH SKYBET. 

NFC WEST PREDICTION

  1. Los Angeles Rams
  2. San Francisco 49ers
  3. Seattle Seahawks 
  4. Arizona Cardinals 

I’ll be honest, I really haven’t got a clue how this division is going to pan out, for as confident as I am with the AFC South I’m equally at a loss with the NFC West, but I’m going to break it down as best I can or at least how I see it. The Rams have a new QB after trading for Matt Stafford. Stafford is one of the most underappreciated quarterbacks in the NFL, he’s been on a lot of poor Lions teams and it’s going to be a lot of fun to see him on a contending roster, a contending roster that boasts arguably the two best defensive players in football in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey as well as a nice WR duo in Robert Woods & Cooper Kupp. The loss of Cam Akers to injury for the year and a still questionable O-Line could put paid to real Super Bowl aspirations, but Sean McVay finally has himself a top QB and betting against that isn’t something I’m going to do. San Francisco have elite coaching and elite talent almost throughout the squad but injuries have hampered them in recent years between their run to the Super Bowl but I can’t project them based on injuries so the only remaining question is at the QB position. Trey Lance was selected 3rd overall by the Niners and they’ll be hoping he plays up to that when he eventually takes the reigns from Jimmy Garoppolo. If the Niners can stay healthy and get some upgraded QB play they could very well find themselves back in the big game come February. Seattle have an Offense that fans of most other teams would die for, Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett & Chris Carson could form elite Offensive output, and for the first half of last season they did so, but coach Pete Carroll seems to have a fascination with running the football and it seems the “Let Russ Cook” brigade will have to go back to getting used to the Hawks running the rock. Carroll may prefer this tactic to eat up clock and keep the opposition Offense, and more importantly, his Defense off the field as Seattle’s ability to stop anyone last year was borderline none existent and the question marks surrounding how they’re going to pressure the quarterback are still unanswered unless blitzing your box safety on every play is their plan. This leaves us with the Arizona Cardinals, and look I want to preface this with the fact that not one of these teams are bad, every single team in this division would be favourites to win the NFC East, but someone has to prop up the West and although this team boasts Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, Chandler Jones & a certain JJ Watt I just can’t help but feel they’re missing something. That something might be a Head Coach I can really trust and get behind. Kliff Kingsbury has been in the NFL for two seasons and is yet to boast a winning record and if not for a miracle play against the Bills last season he’d have back to back losing seasons. Heralded as an Offensive genius when he was pulled out of the College game he has flattered to deceive so far in his NFL play-calling career, his usage of DeAndre Hopkins was mind-boggling at times last season and you have to wonder what this Offense would look like without the magic of Kyler Murray week after week. Again, every team in this division is stacked with talent and playoff-ready, this pretty much came down to coaching and I trust McVay and Shanahan to better put their guys in a position to win than I do Carroll and Kingsbury. 

DIVISION BEST BET: AARON DONALD TO WIN DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR @ 5/1 WITH SKYBET. 

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