NFC: 2016 way too early division championship predictions

May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; A general view of a helmet and NFL shield logo before the start of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; A general view of a helmet and NFL shield logo before the start of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s too early to pick the winners in the 2016 NFC divisional races, but that won’t stop us from giving it a whirl.

Although it’s way too early to predict the outcome or even the participants, I can make one guarantee, the Carolina Panthers will not be making a return trip to the Super Bowl.

It was a great ride for Cam Newton and crew but their memorable 2015 season will be just that, a memory. The 1992 Buffalo Bills were the last team to make it back to the big game after losing the year before, the Super Bowl hangover is real and the Panthers will be feeling under the weather all season long. At least owner Jerry Richardson will have those in-game team photos to look back on.

2016 NFC divisional playoff predictions

NFC West

You could basically flip a coin between the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals to determine the outcome of the NFC West. On paper both teams look solid once again in 2016 and it should come down to the final week of the season to determine the winner. The Rams and 49ers are eons away from competing for anything relevant. The Seahawks were coming off a crushing Super Bowl loss in 2014, look for Russel Wilson to recover and return his team to the playoffs as division champs.

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The Seattle Seahawks will win the division but the Cardinals still earn a wild card birth.

NFC North

There was a shift in power last season in the NFC North with the Minnesota Vikings coming out on top. The Green Bay Packers will get Jordy Nelson back on the field, but will that be enough? The short answer is, no.

The Vikings can’t match the offensive firepower of Aaron Rodgers and company, but fear not Minnesota fans. Under Mike Zimmers tutelage the Vikings have managed to build a defense that can shut even the best quarterback down, and they will. Jay Cutler is making strides under John Fox but third place is where the Chicago Bears are likely to land. Be sure to hold on to those paper bags in Detroit, its going to be rough year for the Lions.

The Minnesota Vikings will repeat as division champions, but similar to last year the Packers make it to the big dance with a wild card birth.

NFC East

The Dallas Cowboys have Tony Romo coming back in 2016, will that be enough to overtake last years surprise winner, the Washington Redskins? The Redskins made some strides but Kirk Cousins is no Tony Romo. Although Dallas already suffered some major injuries in OTA’s (Darren Mcfadden) they have a rookie who will step in and run wild behind a massive offensive line. Ezekiel Elliot will be the real deal.

Dallas will come out on top this year. Followed closely by the Redskins. The giants and Eagles will flutter around mediocre but get nowhere this season.

NFC South

Going 15-1 and having a chance at an undefeated season is not easy in the NFL. The Carolina Panthers had a shot at greatness but they came up short. One could imagine it felt like this year’s Golden State Warriors squad, an impressive regular season that came crashing down in the finals. The New Orleans Saints are struggling to put a competitive defense on the field and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a promising future with Jameis Winston, but with youth comes unpredictability.

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Look for the Atlanta Falcons to come out on top in the South. The Panthers will give them a run but Dan Quinn finds a way.

So, who’s your pick? Which one of these teams will most likely represent the NFC in Super Bowl VI