We've reached a midpoint in the 2013 NFL campaign. How will the rest of the season play out? Our analysts provide their predictions, covering the major individual awards, playoff teams for each conference and picks for Championship Sunday/Super Bowl XLVIII.
Albert Breer: Cowboys. Is it possible the Dez Bryant fiasco was a good thing for Dallas? That maybe it's something they needed? That the competitiveness he displayed should be dialed up more often in Big D? Whether it is or it isn't, the Cowboys should outlast a mediocre lot in the East.
Jeff Darlington: Cowboys. After so many overcooked expectations in Dallas over the years, I wanted to see the Cowboys prove it before I picked them for a postseason berth. And while they've had their share of disappointment and drama to start the season, they're also playing the type of football, in a struggling division, that'll earn a spot in the playoffs.
Elliot Harrison: Cowboys. Dallas will be lucky to get to nine wins, but the thing is, eight wins should do it. The Cowboys probably will lose to the Saints, Giants, Packers and possibly the Redskins to finish 8-8.
Adam Schein: Cowboys. Do I have to pick a winner? I picked Philly in the preseason, mainly because I didn't like anyone else. I still don't. First one to eight wins takes this division -- and then gets clubbed by the second-place team in the NFC West in the first round.
Albert Breer: Packers. Last Sunday night's win in Minnesota showed how great Aaron Rodgers can be. With Greg Jennings on the other sideline, and Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley absent, the quarterback took over. In the regular season, having that element is enough to keep advancing.
Jeff Darlington: Packers. If Jay Cutler can get healthy enough to keep his team on track in Chicago, this could be an especially tough division to win, since the Lions are also surging. But the Packers' four-game win streak is worthy of respect.
Michael Silver: Packers. I picked the Bears before the season, but here's one reason why: My 11-year-old son, a huge Packers fan (like his 14-year-old brother), tends to be a bit negative -- and his woe-is-Pack proclamations rubbed off. Then I watched Aaron Rodgers, and reality set in.
Albert Breer: Saints. I have Andy Reid as my midseason Coach of the Year, but Sean Payton should be in the mix, too -- not just for his explosive offense, but finding a way, through hiring Rob Ryan, to fix a horrific defense. One potential killer: The possibility of Jimmy Graham's foot injury lingering.
Jeff Darlington: Saints. Sean Payton is proving his worth every week in New Orleans as he puts this team in an impressive spot one year after their immense struggles. Yes, Rob Ryan is doing a nice job with the defense, but let's be clear: Payton got them here. And Payton will get them to the playoffs, too.
Elliot Harrison: Saints. New Orleans is already two games up on Carolina, and more importantly, the defense is making a strong contribution. The Saints have allowed just 120 points through seven games (third fewest in the NFL).
Albert Breer: Seahawks. The Seahawks still have the best roster in football, and winning home-field advantage would give the NFC bracket a different complexion. But there still are variables here, the primary ones being how much the returns of Percy Harvin and Russell Okung upgrade a couple banged-up position groups.
Bucky Brooks: Seahawks. Percy Harvin will arrive in the nick of time to add some juice to an offense that desperately needs some sizzle in the passing game. With Harvin creating havoc on the perimeter, Marshawn Lynch finds more room to run between the tackles and becomes the force that keys the 'Hawks' run to the title.
Jeff Darlington: Seahawks. When the Seahawks realize they can ride Marshawn Lynch more than they have been ... and when they get Russell Okung back at left tackle ... and when Percy Harvin gets comfortable in the offense ... Wait, they're 7-1 without all of that? Oh, right. Carry on, Seahawks.
Elliot Harrison: Seahawks. Seattle is in the driver's seat with one loss and a win over the 49ers. Other than a trip to San Francisco, the remaining schedule doesn't pose too many challenges. The December meeting with the Saints is obviously a marquee matchup, but that game is in Seattle.
NFC WILD CARD NO. 1
Albert Breer: 49ers. Colin Kaepernick appears to have worked through some September growing pains, but could still use some help at the skill spots. So, as is the case with Seattle, the return of a couple injured guys -- in this case, Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham -- could be pivotal.
Jeff Darlington: 49ers. Riding a five-game win streak, the 49ers have most certainly gotten their season back on track, which should make for a fun battle between Seattle and San Francisco for the division. Either team can pull it off -- I picked the Seahawks based on current record.
Ian Rapoport: Packers. Despite all those injuries to their receivers, the Packers have the one constant that transcends everything: Aaron Rodgers, who keeps making it work with guys youâve never heard of. It'll be good enough.
Michael Silver: 49ers. I give Jim Harbaugh and his staff a lot of credit for weathering their early season storm, going back to basics and staying in the mix. They could peak by season's end -- and be very scary.
NFC WILD CARD NO. 2
Judy Battista: Detroit Lions. Hard to pick against them after Matthew Stafford's statement-making, game-winning drive against the Cowboys.
Gil Brandt: Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers is excellent, and coach Mike McCarthy is underrated. I wasn't a huge believer in this team initially, but the emergence of rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari (and the running game) changed my mind.
Albert Breer: Lions. Even during last year's disaster, there were moments when the Lions would get that scary look where the raw talent showed itself. We're seeing it more consistently now. And if Detroit gets in, because of the defensive line and Calvin Johnson, they're a tricky matchup for anyone.
Bucky Brooks: Carolina Panthers. After enduring a host of criticism about his game and body language, Cam Newton silences the doubters by putting together a series of MVP-like performances to help the Panthers claim the final spot in the postseason tournament.
Jeff Darlington: Panthers. Did Cam Newton's resurgence manage to save Ron Rivera's job as a head coach? There's still plenty of season left to dictate such matters, but if Newton can continue playing such poised football, he'll get his Panthers into a wild-card spot at the very least.
Elliot Harrison: Lions. Jay Cutler's injury should push the Lions into the wild-card driver's seat. Detroit already bested the Bears earlier this season, a win that could loom large in a tiebreaker scenario.
Ian Rapoport: Seattle Seahawks. Their offense has grown stagnant, but the wins keep piling up. That should tell us enough about Seattle, because the best teams keep winning while they work to find themselves again.