Assessing Each NFC Team’s Super Bowl Window
Which NFC team’s Super Bowl window is wide open? Opening? Closing? Closed? Each team is in a unique situation.
Dallas Cowboys: Open
Despite the Running Back situation, retaining Dez Bryant and signing Greg Hardy means the next few years will be the golden opportunity for the Cowboys. From fumbling the snap on the crucial field goal kick years ago to the infamous “Catch rule” last year, Tony Romo has had some bad luck in the playoffs. But he is more than capable of guiding this team to a title, mostly because there is plenty of talent surrounding him. The running back situation remains a question mark, but if that is resolved than the Cowboys are instant contenders.
New York Giants: We’ll go with Open
You have to believe that with the return of Victor Cruz, the Giants offense has the chance to be one of the best in the NFC. Injuries decimated the Giants last year, and they have already had a few unlucky injuries this offseason. The Giants defense also has potential, but it definitely took a hit with the July 4th injury to Jason Pierre-Paul. At full strength, the Giants still have the ability to win the Super Bowl, before Eli gets too old.
Washington Redskins: CLOSED.
The Redskins have lost hope in RG3 but the sad thing is Kirk Cousins isn’t really an upgrade. There is not enough talent on this team on either side of the ball to make a run.
Philadelphia Eagles: Anybody’s guess… Opening?
Chip Kelly makes this team the most unpredictable in the League. The Eagles overhauled their offense, trading out QB Nick Foles and RB LeSean McCoy for Sam Bradford and Demarco Murray. They also let go of a couple key offensive lineman. We will have to see how Murray adjusts to a less talented offensive line and if Sam Bradford can stay healthy.
New Orleans Saints: Closing in a hurry
As Drew Brees nears the end of his illustrious career, the window for the Saints is definitely closing. The trading away of Jimmy Graham is going to devastate this offense. It is now all on second-year receiver Brandin Cooks to grow up in a hurry. This team is looking like it is not a long way out from rebuilding. However, I wouldn’t count them completely out just yet, considering the fact that Brees is still QB1.
Carolina Panthers: Opening
In simple terms, the Panthers are a left tackle and a healthy Kelvin Benjamin away from seriously contending for the Super Bowl. There is a rumor going around this organization that Michael Oher has shown in camp that he has what it takes to get the job done. Their receiving core is coming together nicely, as is the secondary. Jonathon Stewart was a leading rusher last season when healthy. Cam Newton is in the prime of his career. It all seems to be quietly coming together in Carolina, give it a year or two.
Atlanta Falcons: Opening
The Falcons are a few years behind the Panthers on the track to being Super Bowl ready, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t steal the division this year, especially with a sidelined Benjamin. It seems the Falcons are moving in the right direction under Dan Quinn, and I’ve always believed that Matt Ryan is underrated. The Falcons had a fantastic draft, and rookie running back Tevin Coleman has tons of potential with Atlanta. On top of that, Julio Jones just signed back with the Dirty Birds for 5 years and over $70 million.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Closed… for now
There was a lot of hype surrounding the Bucs last year when they hired head coach Lovie Smith, and some analysts picked them to win the division. That all went down the drain very fast, and the Bucs won a grand total of two games. That just goes to say that the Bucs are not simply “a Quarterback away” from contending. Jameis Winston has the talent to potentially surprise as a rookie, but the Super Bowl is just out of reach.
Minnesota Vikings: Opening in a hurry
Teddy Bridgewater is definitely the answer at QB in Minnesota, and with Adrian Peterson back, this offense has the opportunity to explode. The Vikings also added Mike Wallace to the list of offensive weapons, who will have the opportunity to be the #1 receiver in Minneapolis.
Chicago Bears: Closed
The Chicago Bears are no where near a Super Bowl with their awful defense and subpar Quarterback. They have a very talented running back (Matt Forte) and receiver (Alshon Jeffery) and we thought Brandon Marshall’s shoes would quickly be filled by Kevin White. Turns out that’s a no-go for now, since Kevin White is possibly out for the year. It is difficult to see this team putting the pieces together to even contend for the NFC North.
Detriot Lions: Quietly Open
The Lions have all of the talent to make a playoff run. Yes, Ndamukong Suh is gone. But this defense should still be decent enough to take some pressure off the other unit. They also have acquired Ameer Abdullah in the draft who is apparently already drawing comparisons to Barry Sanders in his playing style. You also talk about one of the best receiving corps in the league now with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. All of the pieces are there for Detroit to go.
Green Bay Packers: Wide Open
Yes, Jordy Nelson is out for the year. But the Packers were the Super Bowl favorites before this incident, and so at worst they still enter the season as Super Bowl contenders. This offense seemed almost too perfect to not have to go through something like this this season.
Seattle Seahawks: Open
Lose a couple defenders, sign Jimmy Graham, remain in serious contention. The Seahawks offseason in a nutshell. With Russell Wilson, Jimmy Graham and Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks offense will once again be electrifying and very enjoyable to watch. The defense is still solid. They are still the easy favorites in the NFC West.
San Francisco 49ers: Closed
The 49ers are an example of a team that had their Super Bowl window open for years, and they could not take advantage of it. To be fair, they were one holding call away from a crazy comeback Super Bowl victory in 2013. The fact that Harbaugh barely mustered 8 wins out of this team in 2014 after a 12 win season the year before lets you know the direction they are headed.
St. Louis Rams: Opening
The Quarterback swap for the Rams was smart for them in the sense that they couldn’t afford to continue to employ Bradford’s ACL. We will have to see how Nick Foles fares in a completely different situation. The elite defense keeps the Rams in contention for the division.
Arizona Cardinals: Open
Don’t judge the Cardinals for getting destroyed by the Panthers in their only playoff game last year because they were down to their third string Quarterback. A healthy Carson Palmer and a healthy Andre Ellington puts the Cardinals back in business.
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Most of these make sense, but I have to say the Giants’ window is closing. The defense simply isn’t good enough, and one injury to either Beckham or Cruz will derail the offense. Manning is getting older and not any better, and their record over the next few years won’t be bad enough to select a top QB prospect.