While the AFC is loaded with talent, it feels like only a few NFC teams are true Super Bowl contenders this season.
Atop that list sits the reigning conference champion Philadelphia Eagles, led by Jalen Hurts. The San Francisco 49ers have elite position players across the board, but some serious question marks under centre, while the Seattle Seahawks are an intriguing team for a few reasons.
In this conference preview, check out our NFC best bets to find out which teams we like plus our favourite picks to win each division.
NFC best bets
It's hard to imagine an NFC team dethroning the Eagles this season.
In a division with three playoff teams last year, Philadelphia was a cut above the rest. Nick Sirianni's squad will be hungry to run the conference championship back after falling just short to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Big Game.
Those two teams are once again the betting favourites to win the Super Bowl.
Best bet to win the NFC
Best Bet: Philadelphia Eagles (+475)
The Birds came oh-so-close to winning their second-ever Super Bowl last season but Patrick Mahomes did Patrick Mahomes things and now it's back to the drawing board.
Well, not really. Philadelphia was arguably the most complete team in football last season and not much had to be done this offseason to change that.
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Hurts got a well-deserved contract extension, and most of the offence has remained intact. A few deck chairs were shuffled, like De'Andre Swift replacing Miles Sanders, but overall, the unit should still be a nightmare to defend.
The other side of the ball is a little more interesting.
Javon Hargrave moving to San Francisco is a big loss but we would argue Philadelphia supplemented that, and then some, by drafting a trio of Georgia Bulldogs in April. Jalen Carter will have an immediate impact on an already elite defence, while Nolan Smith and Kelee Ringo are valuable depth pieces.
Philly was dominant in all phases of the game last season and its Super Bowl window is still wide open. This is a chalky bet, but it's the right bet.
Best value bet to win the NFC
Best Bet: Seattle Seahawks (+1,400)
We're liking what Pete Caroll and Co. are cooking.
Seattle underwent major changes last offseason, trading Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos for a haul of draft picks and Noah Fant, among others. As of right now, it's pretty clear who won that trade.
The Seahawks ripped off nine wins and made the playoffs, largely thanks to a masterful season by Geno Smith. The journeyman QB threw 30 touchdowns to 11 interceptions with a league-best 69.8 completion percentage and a 100.9 quarterback rating (fifth).
The offence ranked ninth in PPG (23.9) and eighth in passing DVOA (24.1%).
The same couldn't be said about the defence, but Seattle was able to fill some obvious holes thanks to owning Denver's No. 5 and No. 37 draft picks.
The Seahawks selected lockdown corner Devon Witherspoon at five to pair opposite Tariq Woolen, who earned Pro Bowl honours as a rookie last year. They also drafted Derick Hall, who's generating plenty of buzz in camp, and re-signed franchise legend Bobby Wagner.
Oh, and they selected Ohio State stud Jaxon Smith-Njigba with their own first-round pick to slot alongside Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. This team is going to be dangerous.
NFC division winner bets
The divisional landscape in the NFC has been flipped on its head over the past few seasons.
The West is no longer a powerhouse while the East has three teams looking to make noise.
Tom Brady's departure from the Buccaneers means the South is wide open, and the same could be said for Aaron Rodgers, the Packers, and the North.
NFC best bets: Top pick to win the East
Best Bet: Philadelphia Eagles (-125)
The Eagles went a league-best 14-3 last season and have arguably gotten better.
Sure, the Giants are vastly improved under Brian Daboll and the Cowboys have been solid when Dak Prescott is healthy, but those teams' ceilings are nowhere near Philadelphia's.
No club has won the NFC East two years in a row since the Eagles (2001-2004) but that would be a terrible reason to shy away from a team that owns the trenches and grinds opponents into dust.
Best pick to win the NFC North
Best Bet: Detroit Lions (+135)
This is the most tightly contested division on the board, with each team holding odds of +425 or shorter to win.
The Detroit Lions are trending upward and we can't say the same for the Green Bay Packers or Minnesota Vikings. The Chicago Bears are a wild card but we want to see more from Justin Fields and Co. before buying in on them.
We've already seen what the Jared Goff-led Lions can do.
Detroit put up 26.6 points (fifth) and 380.0 yards (fourth) per game with Goff owning the ninth-best quarterback rating (99.3) and a 29 to 7 TD:INT ratio.
The defence was suspect but the Lions brought in C.J. Gardner Johnson and Cameron Sutton to shore up the secondary. They also drafted Jack Campbell, a standout LB from Iowa, at No. 18.
Best pick to win the NFC South
Best Bet: Atlanta Falcons (+200)
This division was a tire fire last season and we can already see smoke billowing from the NFC South again. But someone will have to come out on top and we believe that will be the Atlanta Falcons.
A case could also be made for the New Orleans Saints but we're not sure Derek Carr will be enough to bandage a poorly-coached, oft-injured team. It feels a bit early to be in on the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers shouldn't even be considered.
Atlanta isn't much better but at least Arthur Smith has an offensive plan which he's poised to execute.
The Falcons ranked third in both rushing yards per game (159.9) and rushing DVOA (8.2%) last season and they just drafted Bijan Robinson, who's one of the most dynamic backs we've seen in recent years.
We'll have more on him later.
Best pick to win the NFC West
Best Bet: Seattle Seahawks (+230)
We've already sung the praises of the Seahawks so let's focus this section on why we think the odds-on favourite Niners (-190) won't win the division.
San Francisco's defence is still among the class of the NFL, that much isn't up for debate. But we're more concerned with what's going on with the Brock Purdy-led offence.
The QB suffered a complete UCL tear in the playoffs last season and is apparently on track to start Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Niners caught lightning in a bottle last year with Purdy, winning each of the six games where he was the primary signal caller. He executed Kyle Shanahan's game plan well, making low-risk throws where receivers were schemed open.
But teams adapt in the NFL and we struggle to see Purdy, who didn't have great arm talent before the UCL injury, replicating his 2022.
That said, this should be a tight divisional race. And that's exactly why we're comfortable siding with Seattle at +230 rather than San Francisco with heavy juice.
NFC best bets: Season-long awards and win totals
How dominant was Robinson for the Texas Longhorns last season? Just check out his numbers:
- 12 games played
- 131.6 rush yards/game
- 6.1 YPC
- 20 all-purpose TDs
The running back shredded Big 12 defences week after week, putting up 100-plus yards in nine of the final 10 games to close out the season.
So it's no surprise he was the highest RB drafted since Saquon Barkley (No. 2) back in 2018.
BIJAN ROBINSON’S FIRST RUN IS SMOOOOTHpic.twitter.com/FEJC2taRCX— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 18, 2023
And what better place to get drafted to than Atlanta?
We've spoken about Smith's propensity to run the ball and now he has a bonafide bell-cow back to shoulder the load.
The Falcons rushed 32.9 times per game last season (No. 2 in the NFL) and Robinson averaged 21.5 carries at Texas. He's currently listed as RB1 on Atlanta's depth chart — you do the math.
Things got ugly fast in Los Angeles just one year after winning the Super Bowl.
With a mass exodus on defence, an aging Matt Stafford, and a suspect offensive line, we can't feel confident about Sean McVay's team moving forward.
The only wins L.A. picked up last year were off fellow bottom-feeding teams (Falcons, Cardinals, Panthers, Raiders, Broncos). The team averaged the fewest yards per game (280.5) and the sixth-fewest points per game (18.1)
What we're witnessing with this team is the effects of going all in to win a championship. Banners hang forever but the Rams should be a mess for the next few years.
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