If the NFL were a Rocky movie, Brett Favre would be looking around the locker room talking about not hearing any bell. After a rough start to the season, the idea may be that Favre is starting to regret coming back for a twentieth year. He’s not done yet and Minnesota is a better team than to just roll over and quit.
With the season underway, these six NFC teams are of playoff caliber. The odds of the New Orleans Saints repeating as champions is growing slimmer – and the Cowboys aren’t very good.
2010 NFC Playoff Caliber Teams
Predicting the NFC teams that will reach the playoffs in 2011 can be a grind. Every year an unsuspecting team or two will have a great year. 2010 shall be no different.
1. Seattle Seahawks – Hop on the Pete Carroll bandwagon! Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is healthy, the run game will develop as the season goes on and the defense is solid.
Versus their division rival 49ers, the Seahawks defense held Frank Gore to only 38 rushing yards. Gore is arguably a top five NFL running back. If the defense can shut down the run consistently all season Seattle will be in the playoff picture. Solid play from the quarterback position will guarantee Carroll a warm welcome back to the NFL with a playoff appearance.
2. Washington Redskins – Donovan McNabb is out to prove himself in 2010. A 426 yard performance in week two proves his arm is still there. McNabb’s teammates seem to be fired up by his presence – and the defense isn’t missing Albert Haynesworth at all.
Maybe that coach with 147 wins and 2 Super Bowl rings does know what he’s doing. Mike Shanahan has the Redskins utilizing their talents and making plays on both offense and defense. A season opening win against the hated Cowboys has Washington thinking big things in 2010. They also have a more favorable schedule than their NFC East counterparts.
3. Atlanta Falcons – In his first season in Atlanta(’08), running back Michael Turner gained 1,699 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. The Falcons need that performance again in 2010. Quarterback Matt Ryan is over the sophomore slump and ready to spread his wings in the NFL. The talent is there at both positions – but will durability be an issue?
Barring any injury, the Falcons have plenty of talent to make a playoff run. The additions of rookie linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and cornerback Dunta Robinson improves the defenses play-making abilities which should really upgrade a unit ranked no.16 in 2009.
4. New Orleans Saints – The defending Super Bowl Champions may have taken a hit with the loss of Reggie Bush to a broken leg. Reggie does it all for the Saints and is Drew Brees’s top third down target. Nevertheless, New Orleans will be in the playoffs.
Defensive coordinator Greg Williams has done a magnificent job making the Saints an aggressive unit. They put pressure on the quarterback and make big plays in the secondary. This squad is impressive on both sides of the ball and will make a strong push for another Lombardi Trophy.
5. Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers has arrived as an elite NFL quarterback. Not to mention he has two of the best possession and big-play receivers in the league in Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. Tight end Jermichael Finley’s clout is rising as well.
As long as the running game and offensive line can be consistently good, the Packers have what it takes to go along way in the 2011 NFL Playoffs.
Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Charles Woodson, and sack master Clay Matthews lead a top 5 defense. Matthews could challenge the NFL record for sacks in a season(22).
6. Minnesota Vikings – Yes, the Vikings. An 0-2 start won’t keep Favre out of the playoffs in his final NFL season(20). It is not one season too many for Brett as he and Adrian Peterson will win some games for the Vikings.
The defense is still very strong with a great defensive line lead by Jared Allen and Kevin Williams. No team can run on them and quarterbacks hear Allen’s footsteps all day. The offensive line on the other hand, needs to protect Favre better on passing downs – something they can fix because the talent is there.
The Vikings started 0-2 in 2008 and made the playoffs finishing 10-6. That was before Favre, Brett has been doing this at a high level for 20 years – now is not the time to doubt his ability. Making the 2011 playoffs will take a team effort.
Honorable Mention – Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys
The 2010 season could be one of the tightest races for playoff positioning ever. There are more playoff caliber teams than not, and it will be an exciting and telling season. Play ball!