NFC to have familiar look

The NFL 2015 season is about to kick off with training camps opening next week for some teams and the rest the following week. The offseason maneuvering is done and the focus now is on Super Bowl 50. The NFC representative in that game will likely come from one of the 2014 playoff teams, since in this man’s opinion not much has changed in the National Football Conference.

If I was a gambling man, I would go all in as you would at Crystal Palace’s new sponsors, on the same four 2014 division winners to repeat in 2015. Here is why.

In the NFC North the Green Bay Packers have won four straight division titles, the last two coming via wins in the last game of the season. The Packers have overcome slow starts and injuries but still always seem to rise to the top by the end of the season. Those slow starts are point of emphasis this offseason and if the Packers can get off to a good start for once they might actually cruise to another division title.

The Packers have everybody back and despite some offseason issues resulting in at least one suspension and two more pending, they still are the cream of the crop. The Minnesota Vikings are without a doubt the biggest threat to the Packers’ dominance in the division with a rising young quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, all-world running Adrian Peterson back and an excellent defense the result of head coach Mike Zimmer.

The Lions and Bears will battle for third and I could easily see both finishing at or above .500. The Lions are already pretty good but their defense is suspect and quarterback Matthew Stafford is Jay Cutler without the ugly plays. He doesn’t make the big mistake but doesn’t make the big play either.

The Bears will be better because they can’t be much worse but their roster is devoid of talent, especially on defense. Signing 25 free agents isn’t going to fix years of bad drafting. New head coach John Fox is a quick fix artist, but he’s also stuck in old school ways, which is why he got run in Denver.

I predict in order Packers, Vikings, Bears, Lions. Go figure.

Out west I can’t see the Seattle Seahawks not winning another division title. In fact, it should be easier than ever. The 49ers are a shell of their former selves. The Cardinals have had two excellent seasons under coach Bruce Arians but injuries derailed their chances and I think their jam is played out. The St. Louis Rams are a .500 team and that is what they always will be without a star quarterback. Nick Foles is not the answer or Philly would have kept him.

I predict Seattle, San Francisco, St. Louis, Arizona.

Down south I think the Carolina Panthers are a team that is about to take the next step in the NFC. I love quarterback Cam Newton and with him locked up with a new contract the direction of the franchise rests on his shoulders. I think Newton takes his game to a new level this year and the Panthers run away with the NFC South. I have no faith in Atlanta, Tampa Bay or New Orleans.

I predict Carolina, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Atlanta.

Last and probably least is the NFC East. I think this division will be a two team race between the Cowboys and Eagles. The Cowboys have the best quarterback by a wide margin so you have to give them the edge. In Philly head coach Chip Kelly has won games with less than stellar quarterback play but I think he’s pressing his luck with Sam Bradford. Still, those two teams are heads and tails above the Giants and Redskins. I’ll go with Tony Romo and the Cowboys to repeat.

I predict Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington, New York.

Same old, same old.

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