NFL Playoffs 2016: NFC Contender or Pretender

The NFC is a very strange conference that seems to be confusing each and every week, and I like it. Please help. 

Back once again for another edition of contender or pretender and this time I take a look at the NFC. If you’ve not read the AFC version of this, read it. Read it now, like right now. 

We’re about to enter the 10th week of the regular season and things are getting strange, contenders have died off or hanging on by a thread. We also have teams who appeared to be pretenders and now they’ve come to the forefront as we reach the back stretch of the season.

We start of the most surprising team atop the standings in the NFC North, the Detroit Lions.

Detroit Lions 

Yeah, so raise your hand if you saw this coming. Raise your hand if you saw the Detroit Lions leading the NFC North in mid November? That’s right, you can’t and if you did raise your hand, you’re a liar. Regardless, the Lions have been one of the biggest surprises this season and without the now retired Calvin Johnson at receiver. Matthew Stafford has led the offense while the defense has been middle of the road and just hanging on by a thread and ranking 22nd overall. Sitting at 1-2 in the NFC North but still in first place is one of the more confusing things on paper but when it comes down to it, the Lions will not be hanging around for a while.

Detroit Lions: Pretender 

Washington Redskins 

After the first few weeks of the 2016 season, a few people out there gave up on the Washington Redskins. I was one of the people that didn’t and here we are, the Redskins have weathered the storm and now sit just a game behind the Giants in third place in the NFC East. The division is going to be won by Dallas but it’s possible that the second and third place teams in the division will reach the playoffs. The Redskins will have to hold off either the Giants and or Eagles to do so, especially with the 4th best offense in the league. With already having a win against New York and Philly it is possible that Washington’s leg up on those two should be enough to get them in the playoffs.

Washington Redskins: Contender 

Atlanta Falcons 

I feel like we go through this every few seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. They start out hot in the first 5-6 weeks and fade down the stretch like a horse that’s been rode way too hard out of the gate. Here we are again, the Falcons start out hot and now they’ve cooled off a bit. Although they lost this past week to Philadelphia on the road, they maintain their lead in the NFC South. You already know what the offense is going to do with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones but their biggest struggle is on defense, the supposed calling card of head coach Dan Quinn. Can you survive with the league’s 26th ranked defense? History says no, however with New Orleans and Carolina both fading down the stretch Atlanta might just be able to reach the playoffs by simply outscoring everybody. Not sure how long they’ll last in the playoffs but with Julio and Matt healthy, they’re a contender.

Atlanta Falcons: Contender

Green Bay Packers 

Never thought I’d be seeing the Green Bay Packers in this situation. They were the popular pick to win the NFC but now they’ve taken an epic nose dive that might cost Mike McCarthy his job. If there’s one division that you could be in to climb out of a deep hole, it would be the NFC North. Despite the struggles on both sides of the ball, the Packers still rank in the top 15 of both total offense and defense. We just need to give the Packers more time. Minnesota will continue to fade, Detroit and Chicago offer little resistance so by season’s end we will see the Packers all black and blue as kings of the NFC North.

Green Bay Packers: Contender 

There you have it, your contenders and pretenders in the NFC. Do any of these teams have a chance to pass the Cowboys and Seahawks and reach Super Bowl 51? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.

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