Contenders or Pretenders: NFC Edition

Creator: Michael Zagaris | Credit: Getty Images
(Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

The NFC is definitely the weaker of the two conferences right now. In my opinion, there are only a few teams that can actually win it all in this conference. Today we will take a look at each NFC team over .500, or in the Buccaneers’ case, each division leader, and find out which are the pretenders and which are the contenders.

NFC East

Commanders: Pretenders

  • Record: 7-5

The Commanders have been one of the surprises of the season and have been playing great football of late, highlighted by their win over the Eagles. I think this team is missing a quarterback to take them from the good to the great tier. It’s for that reason I don’t see them contending or even reaching the playoffs in their loaded division.

Cowboys: Contenders

  • Record: 8-3

After having the number-one offense in the league last season, the Cowboys switched it up and have one of the best defenses in the league this season. The Cowboys have been pretty great in every facet of the game except for passing, which makes sense considering Dak Prescott‘s injury earlier in the year. However, since returning from his injury (three games), Prescott has thrown for over 250 yards every game and has seven passing touchdowns with four interceptions. The Cowboys are getting hot at the right time and look like a pretty serious contender with Prescott and their defense. I think this is a better team than last year’s 12-5 squad that lost in the Wild Card.

Giants: Pretenders

  • Record: 7-4

The Giants have been a joy to watch this year with the way they compete in every game. It’s a miracle to me that Brian Daboll has them in the hunt but you have to give him credit. However, with this receiver room that has gotten more and more depleted, I don’t see how he can scheme them to win a playoff game. Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones‘ quality play has kept them afloat so far, but the reality is they rank in the middle of the pack both offensively and defensively. I think the Giants have a chance to win this division next year but now is not their time.

Eagles: Contenders

  • Record: 10-1

The clear-cut favorite in the NFC. Offensively you can’t find any weakness unless Jalen Hurts has an off night throwing the ball. And even then, he could still beat you with his legs. The Eagles are the only team in the NFL to rank top five both offensively and defensively. There are only two other teams on this list that I believe can take them down in the playoffs.

NFC West

49ers: Contenders

  • Record: 7-4

A close second to the Eagles. The 49ers hold the best defense in the NFL and acquired Christian McCaffrey at the trade deadline, what’s not to like? It wouldn’t shock me if they looked like the team to beat in the NFC when the regular season is wrapped up. The 49ers have a pretty difficult schedule to close out the year, so it will be interesting to see where they are seeded.

Seahawks: Pretenders

  • Record: 6-5

I’m a Dolphins supporter, but I love this team. It pains me to say it but they won’t do anything significant so just enjoy them for what they are: a fun regular-season squad. Geno Smith has been incredible and looks like he’ll be their guy going into next season. If he signs a team-friendly deal to remain with Seattle, I believe they’ll have a chance to contend next year.

NFC North

Vikings: Pretenders

  • Record: 9-2

I know many will disagree with me on this one, and I could very well end up being wrong. But the Vikings’ defense is objectively terrible. They rank 31st in the NFL and allow nearly as many points as the Houston Texans. They have only won one game by more than one possession, and that was week one against the Packers. Their losses? Blown out by the Eagles and Bills. Something about this team just screams pretender to me and I think those are the reasons why.

NFC South

Buccaneers: Pretenders

  • Record: 5-6

I had to change my criteria up to even include Tampa on this list, but I still think they’re worth mentioning. Leading in arguably the worst division in the NFL, the Buccaneers have managed to hold a playoff spot with a losing record. A few weeks ago, I thought this team could be on the upswing, but that loss against Cleveland killed all my expectations for them. Unfortunately for the GOAT Tom Brady, he’ll have to return to the NFL next year if he wants another shot at a title.

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