Rounding out the top ten teams in the NFC are four teams that, for all intents and purposes, could win it all. They have the manpower and the talent to do so, but have fallen short of their intentions thus far. These four teams have four of the more high powered offenses in the league, and three of them boast top ranked defenses to boot. Coming into the 2012 season, there was thought of these four teams as favorites in the NFC. With superstars on each of their rosters, they seemed a shoe in to represent the NFC in the playoffs. Unfortunately, as good as they are, they have fallen short along the way. The obstacles and hurdles that they have had to work around throughout this year is a testament to how talented they really are. To still be considered one of the better teams in the NFC, despite their pitfalls says a lot about the character of these teams.
Seattle Seahawks: With a record of 4-4 on the year, this team is a lot better than their record indicates. They have a monster of a running back in Marshawn Lynch leading the charge on the offense. He is averaging over 94 yards per game at this point, and his 4.8 yards per carry is nearly impossible for any defense to stop. They have a blossoming rookie quarterback doing a remarkable job in the passing game. And their defense is as nasty as any in the league. The Seahawks are probably the biggest sleeper and underdog team in the league. There is not a team out there that looks forward to lining up against them. They play smash mouth, hard nosed football, and could have very well been a favorite going into the playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, they have a grueling schedule in 2012. That has been their biggest hurdle, on the year they play Dallas, Green Bay, New England, San Francisco twice, Detroit, Minnesota, and Chicago, all Super Bowl caliber teams. With eight games left in the season, they do stand a very good chance to win five of them, maybe six. With a season ending record of 9-7 or 10-6, they might sneak into the playoffs, but that would really have to depend on other top tiered teams falling apart.
Dallas Cowboys: Ultimately, the Cowboys are one of the best teams in the league. They have a high powered offense led by Tony Romo and a stalwart defense guided by defensive genius Rob Ryan. Every single year they are touted as one of the more talented teams in the league, and a potential threat to win a Super Bowl. They just keep shooting themselves in the foot. Their wide receiver and tight end unit has the most dropped passes in the entire league. And with them having a rather poor running game, the dropped passes halts any progress that they work for on offense. Speaking of the running game, it is poor, if they had a rushing attack at their disposal, the offensive problems would not be as magnified. Currently they rush for fewer than 90 yards per game as a team.
The rest of their 2012 schedule is very promising aside from a couple power house clubs that they will probably incur losses to. Otherwise, it is not out of the question to see them go 6-3 the rest of the way. They are an ultra talented team, and could very well back themselves into a playoff birth. But hey have to make the necessary adjustments in the offensive game plan, and they have to hold onto the ball. Or the sports world will once again be talking about the Cowboys as the most talented team to not make the playoffs again.
Detroit Lions: Almost the exact same paragraphs can be written for the Lions as are written for the Cowboys. The Lions are easily one of the most talented teams in the league. But they too drop a lot of passes and have no running game to rely on. In all actuality, they should have only two losses on the year. They should have never lost to Tennessee, especially when the Titans superstar running back only ran for 24 yards. And they could have and should have beaten the Vikings, who only scored touchdowns on a kick off return and a punt return. The only teams that have outright beaten the Lions were the 49ers and Bears. The Lions have the top receiver in the game right now, and their quarterback is third in the league in passing yards per game. Their downfall, just like the Cowboys, is their lack of running offense. Currently they are rushing for just over 95 yards per game as a team. There is no doubt that they should make the playoffs, but their lack of focus just might send them home early.
They really needed a strong first half of the season to make up for the difficult second half. They play some quality opponents the rest of the way, and will be very hard pressed to make it through with a winning record. With nine games left in the season, they are looking at coming out 4-5 down the stretch, 5-4 if they get lucky. Lions fans will not be happy, as they will more than likely not make the playoffs.
New Orleans Saints: No doubt it sounds absurd to have a team that is 2-5 on the year ranked tenth in the NFC power rankings. However, one has to take into consideration the talent and capabilities that this team possesses. First of all, they have one of the most prolific passers in history at the quarterback position. They also have a playmaker tight end, and a running back committee that keeps defenses guessing at the direction the Saints are going. They are still one of the most talented teams in the league, and they are a lot better than their record suggests. Even with a shabby record, they are still putting up over 27 points per game. It’s their defense that has put most of the hurt on the Saints season this year. Had they been able to stop anyone, the record would be a lot different. Currently, the Saints defense is giving up over 30 points per game. It forces Drew Brees to be great, but even he can’t score on every possession.
The Saints fell on hard times this year, no head coach, suspended players, and injuries on both sides of the ball. Still through it all, this team remains a difficult match up for any opposition. They have a favorable schedule ahead of them, and it is not out of the realm of possibilities that they go undefeated the rest of the way. They probably won’t, as they would have to beat Atlanta twice and the Giants once to do so. It’s more likely that they finish the rest of the year 6-2 or 5-3. They will not make the playoffs this year, but it will be a bright note if they finish with a winning record.
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