Here is a look at how the NFC may shake out:
Much was made about the spending spree made by the Philadelphia Eagles over the offseason, bolstering their defense by acquiring defensive backs Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, as well as defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins.
While the defense should be much improved over last year’s average squad, the key to the season is whether they can keep quarterback Michael Vick upright. Vick was sacked 34 times last season, yet he is the key to the Eagles’ success. Simply put, a healthy Vick means many wins in Philadelphia.
The New York Giants rode a roller coaster of a year last season, winning 10 games, yet failing to reach the post season because of ill-timed, late season losses. To have better success this season, the Giants need to limit turnovers. Quarterback Eli Manning threw a staggering 25 interceptions and lost another five fumbles. If New York hopes to make it back to the playoffs, Manning will have to decrease those numbers.
If there was one team that experts would unanimously say fell short of expectations in 2010, it would be the Dallas Cowboys. Losing seven of their first eight games and quarterback Tony Romo injured, all seemed lost. With Romo back this season, along with dynamic receivers Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, the Cowboys are sure to score points and turn heads in 2011.
The Washington Redskins seemed to make headlines for all the wrong reasons last year. Gone, however, are distractions provided by Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb, former Redskins. With Rex Grossman at quarterback, the fate of the Redskins will be determined by how the offense scores points in the division.
Predicted Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
Although they had to fight a string of injuries to key players, the Green Bay Packers still won the Super Bowl in 2010. With all of the offensive weapons surrounding quarterback Aaron Rodgers returning, the Packers look to repeat, and they look to have a pretty decent chance to do just that.
Thanks to a favorable schedule, a little luck and a tenacious defense, the Chicago Bears won the NFC North last season (yes, over the Super Bowl champion Packers). If quarterback Jay Cutler can limit turnovers (especially near the goal line), and if the offensive line can give running back Matt Forte room to run, the Bears could head back to the playoffs.
This season is a big season of “ifs” for the Detroit Lions. If quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Jahvid Best can stay healthy and the young defense lives up to the potential it showed in flashes last season, the Lions could be the surprise team of the entire league.
Moving past Brett Favre, the Minnesota Vikings drafted quarterback Christian Ponder in the first round of March’s draft. Around to mentor the young Ponder is former Redskin Donovan McNabb. Despite perennial top-five rusher Adrian Peterson and a relatively stout defense, the Vikings look to be on the wrong end of a supremely talented division this season.
Predicted Winner: Green Bay Packers