Earlier this week ESPN Analyst Mark Schlereth broke down his predictions of who would make the playoffs from the NFC in this upcoming 2013-2014 season. I don’t find it shocking that I agreed with 5 out of the 6 teams Schlereth chose, seeing that those five teams who were picked made the playoffs this past season. Those teams were: The Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Redskins.
The only difference I disagreed with came in Schlereth’s last pick: the New Orleans Saints. In this 2-part series of the 2013 NFC Playoffs Predictions, I will breakdown to you why Schlereth was right with his first five picks, and why the Detroit Lions will be the 6th and final team to make it to the NFC playoffs this 2013 season.
2013-2014 NFC West Champions- The San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are coming off of a season where they were a win away from winning their 6th Super Bowl in franchise history. Former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin torched the 49ers in the Super Bowl for 6 catches, 104 yards and a touchdown. So what does 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh do? Just a month after suffering a defeat to his own brother in the first ever “Harbowl,” Jim contacted his brother John (head coach of the Baltimore Ravens) to trade for Boldin for a 6th round pick. With Boldin refusing to take a pay cut, John eventually agrees to the trade, and just like that Boldin is apart of the 49ers. Talk about taking advantage of every opportunity that’s given. I thought trading my brother in a fantasy football league was cool, but that is not even close to being as cool as trading players to your brother in the NFL.
But honestly though, acquiring a guy like Boldin is just another one of those “Jim Harbaugh” kind of players that fill-up the 49ers roster. Boldin is one of the most physical wide receivers in the league, which solidifies the 49ers as the most physical football team in the NFL.
With dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick playing behind center for the whole season, expectations are through the roof this upcoming year for the 49ers. Oh by the way, lets not forget the 49ers acquired free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha this off season to add to the already stingy San Francisco defense. And for those of you who think the injury to Michael Crabtree might slow the 49ers offense down, I have two words for you: Quinton Patton. Get to know him.
2013-2014 NFC South Champions-Atlanta Falcons
Talk about being the most complete team in the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons finished the 2012 season ranked in the top ten in both offense and defense. The Falcons 2012′ season ended with a devastating loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship. It was the first time Atlanta made it to the conference championship since 04-05, also known as the Michael Vick era. The Falcons also won their first playoff game in the Mike Smith/Matt Ryan era this past season by defeating the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round. But if there is one thing for certain about this 2013 Falcons team, it’s that they are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, especially on the offensive end.
If you thought Matt Ryan was excited to have receiving targets such as Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez catching his passes, how do you think he felt when he heard the news that former St. Louis Rams running back Steven “action pack”Jackson was signed to the team. Heck, I’m not even an Atlanta Falcons fan and I was happy for them and for Jackson when I heard the news.
It’s time that Steven Jackson finally gets a chance to show the league why he is still an elite runner. The Falcons chances to compete for a Super Bowl will make Jackson that much of a better runner just because he has something to play for. A player that comes to my mind when I think of a runner like Jackson is Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, because of their similar downhill-hard-running style of play. I believe Jackson will be the perfect compliment to this pass happy style of offense this Falcons team displays.
2013-2014 NFC East Champions-Washington Redskins
I would be lying to you if I said that I didn’t believe a quarterback like Robert Griffin III would be able to come into this league his rookie season and make a quick impact on this Redskins team. But after a 10-6 season, in which RGIII broke many rookie quarterback records, and propelled the Redskins to their first playoff appearance since 2007 and their first NFC East title since 1999, I have to admit that he surpassed even my own expectations.
But all the credit can’t be given to RGIII, especially with the season that fellow rookie teammate Alfred Morris displayed this past year.
I’ll tell ya, head coach of the Washington Redskins, Mike Shanahan, knows a thing or two about drafting running backs late in the NFL Draft. Morris was selected by Shanahan and the Redskins in the 6th round of the 2012 draft from Florida Atlantic University. Morris was suppose to be a compliment back to Tim Hightower, Evan Royster, and Roy Helu. But after a great preseason, Shanahan announced Morris as their starting running back a day before their season opener. And Morris didn’t let his coach down.
Morris finished the 2012 season with a total of 1,613 rushing yards and thirteen touchdowns. He broke the Redskins single-seaon rushing record of 1,516 yards, held by Clinton Portis, and the record of most touchdowns scored in a rookie season, (10), held by Charley Taylor. Morris also became the fourth player in NFL history to ever record over 1,600 rushing yards in his rookie year; ultimately ranking him third behind Eric Dickerson and George Rogers.
With Morris’ 1,613 rushing yards combined with 815 rushing yards attained by RGIII, the two rookies accounted for 90% of the Redskins’ total rushing yards for the 2012 regular season. Morris also finished second in the league in total rushing yards in 2012, only behind Adrian peterson, and second in league in rushing touchdowns, only behind Arian Foster. After his performance during the regular season, Morris was added to the roster of the All-Pro second team.
In a competitive division like the NFC East, I believe the young talent from the Redskins will propel them to another division title, as long as RGIII can stay healthy. If not, I mean there is always the saviour himself, Michigan Sate University grad, Kirk Cousins, to lean back on to get the quarterbacking job done for the Redskins, right?
Tune in tomorrow to see why I believe the Green Bay Packers, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Detroit Lions will fill the final three spots in the 2013-2014 NFC playoffs.