Last season was a fantastic year for the NFC, culminating in a brilliant if controversial NFC Championship game. Ultimately the Los Angeles Rams came out of 2018 as the victors, but it was a great contest throughout the year. 2019 has the potential to be as good, if not better. Most teams in the NFC appear to have gotten better — well other than the Giants — which should lead to another back-and-forth type season. Let’s take a look at the stand-out contenders and try to identify some value.
- Los Angeles Rams +500
- New Orleans Saints +500
It is hard to find too much value in either the Rams or Saints. The Rams have not improved overall, which is a concern given they stuttered a bit in the playoffs last season. The Saints suffered the worst possible loss. That could either motivate them in a massive way or it could have a negative effect if things do not go their way early. They have managed to upgrade their team overall, with the addition of Jared Cook being a potentially important piece. If you are backing a favorite, the Saints are my selection.
- Chicago Bears +800
- Minnesota Vikings +800
- Philadelphia Eagles +800
Three fascinating names here. The Bears relied heavily on their stellar defense last season and likely will want that to be their main strength again. However, defenses often struggle for consistency year-after-year. Therefore, unless the Bears can get more consistency out of their offense, they may struggle to reach the heights of last year. The Vikings were mostly let down by their offensive line last season, and they have taken steps to improve that. However, relying on Kirk Cousins to take them to an NFC title is not something I want to back at this price.
That leaves the Eagles among this group, and there are a lot of reasons to be positive. Supposedly Carson Wentz is going to be fully healthy to start the season, and a healthy season from him would be a massive part of any run they make. They added talent at crucial spots on offense, and their secondary looks improved on the mess from last year. The value is not as high as I hoped it would be, but the Eagles at +800 are worth backing here.
- Dallas Cowboys +1000
- Green Bay Packers +1000
This is an intriguing pairing who both have a shot to go all the way. The Cowboys demonstrated last year how much of a force they can be. However, the loss of key pieces on their defensive line concerns me. The big question is can Dak Prescott, with Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper, and a returning Jason Witten, do enough to take them to the Super Bowl? It is certainly not out of the question. However, it is not likely enough for me to back with the Eagles likely the better team in the division this season.
Now the Packers are indeed interesting to me because any team with Aaron Rodgers is worth consideration. If Mike McCarthy was truly holding this team back, then we should see a significant improvement this year. Their division is tough, and home-field advantage would be huge for them, but they have gone all the way as the No. 6 before, so we know Rodgers can do it. At this price, the Packers make for an exciting selection with the potential for an excellent return.
Need Some Help
- Atlanta Falcons +1500
- San Francisco 49ers +1800
- Seattle Seahawks +1800
Another interesting group with plenty of potential. The Falcons have a nightmare schedule, and they stumbled with a tough schedule last year, giving me significant concerns. I previously backed Matt Ryan as an outside MVP candidate, so I think they have a chance. However, there is a better value in Ryan as MVP, and they are equally as likely, so back that and not this.
The 49ers and Seahawks are going to need to overcome the Rams, and that could be tough. The 49ers will be putting their offense together with the return of Jimmy Garoppolo. They have invested heavily in their team and should be a lot of fun to watch. Can they transform enough to make the Super Bowl? I have my doubts.
That leaves us with the Seahawks, who are a team you can never truly count out. Russell Wilson will always give them a chance, but they have a lot to overcome. Their defense is a shell of its former self, and they will be without Doug Baldwin. The possibilities are slim, but this is a team that could sneak in as a wildcard and then cause a lot of problems. For that reason, at these odds, the Seahawks are worth a small punt.
Need a Lot of Help
- Carolina Panthers +2500
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3000
The Carolina Panthers are absolutely a team you cannot write off. If Cam Newton is healthy, he can win any game from any position. They have talented players all over the field, and they will come into the season with a massive chip on their shoulder. They have been pretty much written off by everyone, and that will not sit well. At this price the Panthers are worth a little look, just in case Newton is healthy and they click.
I am excited for Bruce Arians in Tampa but not excited enough to back them. Jameis Winston has far too many moments of madness to be able to take this team to the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl. They have some talented players, but they lack a sure-thing running back, which will pile pressure on Winston. I would like to see a strong season from them, but I would be stunned if they went to the Super Bowl.
Forget About It
- New York Giants +5000
- Washington Redskins +5000
- Arizona Cardinals +6000
- Detroit Lions +6000
Just save your money. The Cardinals are the fun, highest-upside bet, but the odds need to be way more before it is worth it for me.