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NFC Season Preview

The NFC features three of the more prominent Super Bowl contenders but they all face tough divisional battles throughout the NFL season first if they’re to get there.

NFC East

The Philadelphia Eagles fell short in Super Bowl LVII but will be in the mix again for the LVIII edition on the second line of betting at $8. Winning their first eight games to finish 14-3 last season, Philly’s win total is set at an appealing 11.5 ($1.91) for this one. Perhaps they overachieved. The rest of the NFL is targeting them now, too. Still, Jalen Hurts is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and a candidate to win the Most Valuable Player award at $13. And they’re stacked across the field on both sides of the ball. Expect more of the same from the Eagles this season.

Dak Prescott threw an NFL-high 17 interceptions last season. Too many for the Dallas Cowboys to be considered as true contenders. Assuming that to be an outlier season and with the acquisition of Brandin Cooks sure to help, the table is set for Prescott to compete for the MVP at $17 and for the Cowboys to contend for the Super Bowl at $14. A new system and new receivers can cause its own issues but the expectation is for the Cowboys to make the playoffs and for Prescott to add to his two wins in seven seasons.

Last season was fun and all, but the New York Giants grossly overperformed. They made the most of a soft schedule, and as these things seem to go, face one of the more difficult schedules in the NFL this season. The assumption is always for improvement at this time of the year but the 7.5 win total – after winning nine games last season – suggests they’ll come crashing back down to earth.

Does new ownership translate into an improved on-field performance? We might find out with the Washington Commanders. Seven-win specialists under Ron Rivera, the $1.91 to win over 6.5 games is worth a look. At the very least, they’re going to be a top defensive team in the NFL. That’s enough to be in with a sniff of winning every week.

NFC North

How real is that 8-2 finish to last season for the Detroit Lions? They look like a better team on paper. They’re young, so you can add another tick to the ‘improve’ column. Their win total remains at 9.5, though. After winning nine games last season and considering their fast finish, there is every possibility that the Lions are better in this one, but win the same number of games. Even still, they’re $2.37 favourites to win the division for the first time since 1993.

They went 11-0 in one-score games last season but the Minnesota Vikings win total is set at just 8.5 for this one. That’s too low. While the Vikings overachieved there is a good chance fans and punters overcorrect and expect too little from what is still a decent team led by a quality quarterback. The defence can’t get any worse. If we assume an improvement there, the Vikings will still cause teams a few problems and flirt with another playoff appearance ($1.97).

For better or worse, the NFL world is watching Jordan Love. Presented with the unenviable task of taking over from a future Hall of Fame quarterback at a Green Bay Packers franchise accustomed to being at least competitive, there is a lot of pressure on the 24-year-old. Love has some weapons. Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillion will help shoulder the load. Still, Green Bay’s $2.56 to make the playoffs will be decided by the play of their new quarterback.

Every year there is a team that makes a whole bunch of moves to significantly improve their roster on paper before falling flat on the field. Think of the Browns of recent years. Those teams don’t usually have a quarterback like Justin Fields, though. The Chicago Bears are primed to be overhyped but Hurts is good enough for them to go close to living up to it. They finished last season with the worst record in the NFL but are a genuine threat to cause havoc in the division at $5. A lot needs to go right but they’ll be a team to watch early on in the year.

NFC South

Signing Derek Carr doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, does it? He’s an improvement on what was there, but enough for the New Orleans Saints to be $2.25 favourites to win the division? Chris Olave is a studd and performed well despite the struggles at quarterback last season. A healthy Michael Thomas would change things, too. But with the offensive line slipping in confidence to go along with the uncertainty around the team in general, the Saints winning over 9.5 games ($2) is optimistic.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons are getting people excited. The over on their 8.5 wins is into $1.67 as the hype around their rushing game builds up. Rookie Bijan Robinson looks the goods and will threaten alongside Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson. The trio will do their work behind an offensive line already thought to be one of the best in the NFL. Given the money spent on improving the defence, there is a lot to like about the Falcons winning the division at $3.

The Carolina Panthers have been gifted a nice schedule but don’t really want to win. There are enough quarterbacks in the upcoming NFL draft that they appear willing to lose out this year to improve their chances for the next. Expectations for this offence with Bryce Young at quarterback are very, very low.

Baker Mayfield is a bad quarterback. It’s safe to say the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to be a bad football team. Mayfield could be serviceable, in theory. But that would require him to take a step back and distribute to the talent around him. All of the evidence so far suggests he won’t do that. What he will do is invite sacks and put pressure on his defence. They’re a non-factor in the division at $7.50.

NFC West

It doesn’t matter whether it’s Brock Purdy or Sam Darnold behind centre this season, the San Francisco 49ers will be one of the best teams in the NFL on both sides of the ball. In Christian McCaffery, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brendon Aiyuk the Niners aren’t short of weapons. Kyle Shanahan is a wizard and has had another summer to scheme ways to best use his arsenal. Defensively, Nick Bosa, Javon Hargrave and company will make things difficult for whichever opponent they face on the day. Two seasons removed from a Super Bowl and missing out on a genuine shot of another last season after running out of quarterbacks in the NFC Championship game, expect the 49ers to be in with a sniff of the big dance again at $10.

The Seattle Seahawks are one of the most interesting teams in the NFL. They always find ways to be good, and after winning nine games last season, the expectation is for more of the same with their total set at 8.5 wins. Although middling overall, an upset over the 49ers at some stage will add appeal to their $3 to win the division assuming the offence performs as well as many expect throughout the year.

You never want to assume injuries or bake them into predictions too much, but if Matthew Stafford or Cooper Kupp goes down, the Los Angeles Rams are in big trouble. Laced with proven veterans in an otherwise inexperienced and young roster, anything is possible for the Rams.

You’re not meant to say it out loud but the Arizona Cardinals are tanking. At $23 to win the division, $9.50 to make the playoffs and with a win total set at 4.5, they’re tanking. Kyler Murray being traded or sitting out the whole NFL season will only confirm as much.

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