Top NFC Contenders for the Super Bowl
The NFC playoffs feature a Seahawks team that has just clinched the first playoff berth, a Saints organization revitalized, and a few other teams lurking in the shadows. This list will cover the current contenders for the honor of being the NFC's best team.
The Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers have, at the moment, absolutely forgotten how to lose. Sometimes winning requires a little bit of luck. Other times, the Panthers have looked in control the entire game. Whatever the deal is, Cam Newton and the Panthers have two critical games against the Saints that will have heavy implications for the playoffs.
The Seattle Seahawks
Under Pete Carroll, the Seattle Seahawks have repeatedly insisted on shooting themselves in the foot with drug related problems. The lack of discipline with regard to the players on the roster could cause tremendous problems in the playoffs. For now, let the top seeded Seahawks enjoy the playoff glory. A game against the 49ers will be a good barometer for the Seahawks' playoff hopes.
The New Orleans Saints
With two critical games against the Carolina Panthers, it's actually quite possible that one of these two teams will not make the playoffs. At the very least, one team will be enjoying a first round bye while the other fights in the Wild Card. The Saints have looked revitalized and polished throughout the season. A rout at the hands of the Seahawks is concern, but that can be left until the conference championship game.
The San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick and the read option play were the star of the show in the 2012-13 season. Faced with a professional league that thrives on adaptation, Kaepernick has largely disappointed and the read option looks to be less viable for quarterbacks known to run with the ball. That being said, the 49ers still have a solid grip on a playoff spot. Once in the playoffs, expect the 49ers to put on a good show, possibly all the way to a second straight Super Bowl appearance.
The Detroit Lions
The Lions have a crushing defense offset by a solid offense. A relatively easy schedule for the rest of the season looks to vault the Lions into a playoff appearance. Once in the playoffs the Lions will face tough competition- but don't expect them to roll over.
The Dallas Cowboys
Sometimes Tony Romo and the Cowboys look smart, confident, and ready to make an impact in the playoffs. Other times the Cowboys look confused, unprepared, and outmatched. Which Cowboys team decides to finish the season will largely determine whether the Cowboys will feast or fail in the playoffs.
The NFC has a solid block of competition ready to fight for the Super Bowl. Before getting to the Super Bowl, each team will have to be the best in their league. I highly favor the Carolina Panthers to close out a strong season with 3 or 4 wins, and to absolutely dominate in the playoffs.