NFL: Early favorites for NFC Division winners

NFL: Early favorites for NFC Division winners

In a rarity, all the winners from the division a year ago are favorite to win the division again in 2018.

richard-martinez
Richard Martinez

North: Minnesota Vikings

2018 prediction: 12-4

The Vikings started the season 2-2 through the first four weeks of the season. The would win eight straight games in the pursuit for north. In 2018, they could repeat as kings of the north once more.

For starters, the signed quarterback Kirk Cousins to a three-year, $84 million deal. In the process they moved on from Case KeenumTeddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford. For the first time in his career, Cousins will have the opportunity to show what he can do with a playoff caliber team in front of him.

Adam Thielen and  Stefon Diggs broke out for the Vikings last season, carrying the bulk of the offense in the passing game. If Laquon Treadwell and free agent signee Kendall Wright are able to click, the passing offense of the Vikings will be hard to handle.

Returning to the fold is running back Dalvin Cook. Cook rushed for 354 yards and two touchdowns before suffering an ACL tear. If he returns to form, Minnesotas' running game could be one of the best.

up front, the Vikings have one of the scary defensive lines in the league.  Danielle Hunter, Linval Joseph, Sheldon Richardson and Everson Griffen know how to get after the quarterback while eliminating the opposing run game. 

Every player in the secondary has big play making ability. From Trae Waynes to Xavier Rhodes, an interception can come at any time.

With the Vikings possessing a defense that can control the field and a offense that has top-10 potential, there is no reason why the Vikings won't repeat as NFC North champions.

South: New Orleans Saints

2018 prediction: 11-5

No team in the NFC South have won back-to-back seasons since the Carolina Panthers won it in 2013 and 2014. The Saints have the opportunity to do that 2018.

It doesn't hurt that Drew Brees is the starting quarterback. Brees is the older quarterback in the NFC but always finishes the season as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Brees threw for 4,334 yards and 23 touchdowns last season. 

Brees has developed a connection with Michael Thomas and Ted GinnCameron Meredith and Austin Carr will benefit from a quarterback like Brees. After spending one season with the Ravens, Ben Watson will be returning to the fold, giving the Saints a deep core of receiving targets.

The Saints gave up a lot in order to trade up and select pass rusher Marcus Davenport in the draft. If their gamble pays off, opposing quarterbacks beware. He joins a rotation on the edge that includes Cameron Jordan and Sheldon Rankins.

The Saints also possess a skilled backfield.  Marshon Lattimore is on a mission to be on the best to play this game.  Vonn BellMarcus and PJ Williams and Patrick Robinson round out the backfield.

Early on, the Saints look like the most complete team in the South and will be the team to beat in the South come kickoff 2018.

East: Philadelphia Eagles

2018 prediction: 13-3

 it isn' that often that a Super Bowl champion can repeat the success that the team had the season prior. In the Eagles case, shaking off the Super Bowl hangover and making another run will definitely be a possibility. With most of the depth returning, there wasn't much pressing needs going into the offseason.

If quarterback Carson Wentz returns to the lineup early, the offense will be just as dynamic as it was a season ago. If Nick Foles leads the team, Philadelphia will still be in good hands.

One full season of Jay Ajayi will be fun to watch.  Darren Sproles, Donnel Pumphrey and Wendell Smallwood will look for their opportunities int the run game as well.

The biggest question mark will be the defense in 2018. Releasing Mychal Kendricks and watching Vinny CurryDaryl Worley, and Patrick Robisnon leave in free agency was very difficult to do for the Eagles. There was edition by subtraction, but it will take time for those guys to develop.

Despite all the challenges the Eagles face, they division will run through Philadelphia come 2018.

West: Los Angeles Rams

2018 prediction: 10-6

Just when many thought the Rams couldn't get any better in the offseason, they found a way to to just that.

The minute teams were allowed to sign and trade for players, the Rams traded for cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. They are signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh while resigning Nickell Robey-Coleman and Lamarcus Joyner. What a start. In the draft, the Rams addressed their needs and more, adding plenty of depth to a young roster.

Quarterback Jared Goff took a big step in 2017. Head coach Sean McVay simplified the offense enough for Geoff to establish some confidence, with Geoff leading the Rams to a 11-5 record and winning the NFC West for the first time since 2003. If Geoff is able to able to put together another season like he had in 2017, opposing defenses are in trouble.

Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds are the familiar faces that Goff will throw the ball to. The Rams also traded the New England Patriots for proven receiver Brandin Cooks. Add tight end Tyler Higbee and you have yourself one dynamic offense. It also doesn't hurt that the Rams have the best running back in the league, Todd Gurley.

The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers will do their best to challenge for the crown, but the Rams seem poised to be the team to beat in the west.

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