While the New England Patriots continue to be the model of consistency in the AFC, the NFC has been a revolving door in terms of recent champions. Nine different teams have won the conference over the last 10 seasons. The race appears to be wide open once again. Here’s a closer look at the divisions and the odds to win them.
The NFC East produced last year’s Super Bowl champion, the Philadelphia Eagles, and they’re once again favored to win the division (-175). They emerged as the top team with quarterback Carson Wentz looking like an MVP before injury. With him back and most of the roster intact, they are the team to beat. However, a lot changes in this division year to year. The Dallas Cowboys (+350) were 13-3 before falling back to 9-7 last season. And a lot of people are high on the New York Giants (+700), who retooled their offensive line and drafted Saquon Barkley to bolster their running game. They could be in for a big boost after winning just three games.
The Washington Redskins (+750) are considered a long shot after allowing Kirk Cousins to walk in free agency, even though they acquired former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.
The Minnesota Vikings (+125) are expected to rule the North as their league-leading defense should now see more support from the offense after the Vikings upgraded at quarterback with Cousins. However, the Green Bay Packers (+140) also “upgraded” at the position as Aaron Rodgers is back and healthy after playing just seven games. The Packers are always a contender with him back. The Detroit Lions (+600) enter the Matt Patricia era expected to finish third, while a lot of people are high on the Chicago Bears (+900), who could be a young team on the rise. Six of their losses last season were by eight points or less.
The South is expected to be one of the most competitive divisions with three teams between +180 and +290. The Saints (+180) are favored after falling one play short of the NFC championship game. With a much-improved defense and a still-dangerous offense, they are the team to beat. But the Atlanta Falcons, who are a year removed from a Super Bowl appearance, are also in the thick of things. Their offense really tapered off last year (15th in points scored) after leading the NFL in that category in 2016. They are hoping that the addition of first-round pick Calvin Ridley makes a big difference. Then there’s the Carolina Panthers, who also used a first-round pick on a wide receiver, D.J. Moore. Cam Newton needs some help but if he gets it, this team could be dangerous.
Lastly are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+600), who will have to survive the early part of the season without Jameis Winston (facing a three-game suspension).
The Los Angeles Rams (-130) are the top dog in the NFC West after adding Ndamukong Suh, Aqib Talib and Brandin Cooks to an 11-win team. The San Francisco 49ers are a team on the rise after finishing the year on a five-game winning streak.
It’s odd to see the Seattle Seahawks (+400) in third place but they have fallen off. As for the Arizona Cardinals (+1200), they are the biggest long shot of any NFC team to win their division.