2015 NFL midseason predictions: NFC East, West spawn debate

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At the midpoint of the 2015 NFL season, our analysts refresh their predictions on the major individual awards, the entire playoff field and Championship Sunday/Super Bowl outcomes.

Click here to glance back at our analysts' preseason predictions.

NFC NORTH

Jeffri Chadiha: Green Bay Packers. Denver is one of the few teams in the NFL that can make Aaron Rodgers look bad.

Judy Battista: Packers. They're scoring a lot of points and not allowing many. That's the formula for a Super Bowl run.

Willie McGinest: Packers. They're playing at a high level right now.

Michael Silver: Packers. The defense is much better than it was at this time last season, and once Aaron Rodgers and friends get it rolling on offense, they'll be the team to beat in the NFC.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Packers.

Colleen Wolfe: Packers. So many injuries. And they have one loss. (It was one bad game. It happens.)

Ike Taylor: Packers. A-Rod is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the game. It's like he's in a neighborhood park, the way he's usually having fun on the field.

Steve Wyche: Packers. Aaron Rodgers is The Man, and this is a complete team that will keep getting better.

Nate Burleson: Minnesota Vikings. I might shock the world with this one, but Adrian Peterson is going to hit midseason form, and Teddy Bridgewater is one of the most composed young quarterbacks in the league.

Gil Brandt: Packers. With a quarterback playing like Aaron Rodgers, plus an improved defensive unit, Green Bay is the team to beat in the NFC North.

Adam Schein: Packers. Aaron Rodgers is an all-time great.

Marc Sessler: Packers. This isn't original, but it's correct.

Charley Casserly: Packers. Green Bay staves off an improving Minnesota squad.

Pro Bowl ballot

Bucky Brooks: Packers. Aaron Rodgers puts the Packers on his back to bring another division crown to Titletown. The defense has the potential to spark a deep playoff run, but more physicality and toughness is needed to take down the rugged teams they'll meet in the postseason tournament.

Elliot Harrison: Packers. As much as I like the Vikings, I think the quarterback advantage and comparable defenses spell NFC North title for all the cheeseheads.

Shaun O'Hara: Packers.

Steve Mariucci: Packers.

Heath Evans: Packers.

 

NFC EAST

Jeffri Chadiha: New York Giants. They have a lousy defense, but the Giants are also playing in a division with mediocre offenses.

Judy Battista: Giants. It hasn't been pretty, but the rest of the division is even uglier.

Willie McGinest: Philadelphia Eagles. It'll be between them and the Giants -- and I think Philly will take off in the second half of the season.

Michael Silver: Dallas Cowboys. If they can hang around long enough for Tony and Dez to start regulating once more, they'll overcome a weak field and sneak into the playoffs.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Cowboys.

Colleen Wolfe: Giants. Ugh. Giants. The loser of this division should be sold to the CFL.

Ike Taylor: Giants. I don't think people want to meet the Giants in the postseason. Eli Manning is still a two-time Super Bowl champion.

Steve Wyche: Giants. They will do just enough to hold off Dallas's scramble after Tony Romo's return.

Nate Burleson: Giants. Odell Beckham and Eli Manning are going to light this league up in the second half of the season.

Gil Brandt: Eagles. Philadelphia's defense has improved a lot this year. I think the Eagles have the best offense-defense combo of any team in the NFC East.

Adam Schein: Eagles. Fly Eagles fly? I don't feel as strong as I did in the preseason, but Philly is the best of a bad bunch. The defense is solid.

Marc Sessler: Giants. Dallas needed to do more than lose five straight during Tony Romo's time on the shelf.

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Charley Casserly: Giants. Good luck picking this one. Eli Manning is the difference.

Bucky Brooks: Cowboys. To the surprise of many, the Cowboys rise from the ashes to take the NFC East. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant pace an opportunistic offense, but it's the Greg Hardy-led defense that carries the 'Boys to the crown.

Elliot Harrison: Giants. This division will come down to the Giants and Cowboys, but Dallas might find itself too far behind in the standings before Tony Romo comes back.

Shaun O'Hara: Giants.

Steve Mariucci: Giants.

Heath Evans: Cowboys.

 

NFC SOUTH

Jeffri Chadiha: Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton is proving his critics wrong once again.

Judy Battista: Panthers. Cam Newton should be in the MVP conversation.

Willie McGinest: Panthers. Carolina is playing the best. I keep underestimating the Panthers, but they've proven to be the best of that division.

Michael Silver: Panthers. Who's the idiot who picked the Bucs to win this division before each of the last two seasons? Oddly enough, the one who went to the same esteemed university as the brilliant Ron Rivera.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Panthers.

Colleen Wolfe: Panthers. Ron Rivera rides again.

Ike Taylor: Panthers. Cam is doing a lot with less, and he's been doing that the last couple of years. He doesn't get the recognition he deserves.

Steve Wyche: Panthers. Cam Newton will be in the MVP race after elevating an offense that looked like a flat tire entering the season.

Nate Burleson: Panthers. Cam Newton has a lot to prove, and he wants to redeem himself after losing to Seattle in the playoffs last season.

Gil Brandt: Panthers. Carolina's defense and Cam Newton enable them to win the South.

Adam Schein: Panthers. Cam Newton and Josh Norman guide this team to the playoffs.

Marc Sessler: Panthers. The most underappreciated team in the league will fend off the Falcons to win this revived division.

Charley Casserly: Atlanta Falcons. It's so rare to repeat in this division. Atlanta is more versatile on offense than Carolina.

Bucky Brooks: Panthers. The Panthers continue to ride their defense and dynamic running game to another NFC South title. Cam Newton doesn't have much to work with on the perimeter, but he finds a way to make enough plays in the passing game to sneak past some of the high-powered offenses on Carolina's schedule.

Elliot Harrison: Panthers. Carolina might have escaped versus the Colts, but Ron Rivera's group will get better as the defensive line gets healthier.

Shaun O'Hara: Falcons.

Steve Mariucci: Falcons.

Heath Evans: Panthers.

 

NFC WEST

Jeffri Chadiha: Arizona Cardinals. Chris Johnson should be getting more love for all the things he's doing in Arizona.

Judy Battista: Cardinals. As long as Carson Palmer remains upright, they stay ahead of St. Louis and Seattle.

Willie McGinest: Cardinals. They're playing the best all-around in every single phase of the game. They've got a healthy quarterback and so many weapons on offense.

Michael Silver: St. Louis Rams. They haven't even started playing well yet ... and their star running back hasn't even scratched the surface of his potential. Scary.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Rams.

Colleen Wolfe: Cardinals. Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald and Chris Johnson. Everything old is new again.

Ike Taylor: Cardinals. They're going to run away with it. This is the most postseason-ready team in that division right now.

Steve Wyche: Seattle Seahawks. They struggled early and will roll into the postseason. Seattle won't get homefield advantage, though -- the NFC goes through Green Bay.

Nate Burleson: Cardinals. The Cardinals are playing the most consistent brand of football in the NFC West.

Gil Brandt: Seahawks. This is a tricky one. I think Seattle, Arizona and St. Louis are all playoff-caliber teams. Ultimately, I think the Seahawks match up well with the Cardinals, whom they haven't played yet this season, with the edge just barely going to Seattle.

Adam Schein: Cardinals. General manager Steve Keim's superb work gets rewarded with a division title.

Marc Sessler: Cardinals. This might be the best team in the NFC. So complete on both sides of the ball, with every player doing his part.

Charley Casserly: Cardinals. They're more balanced than the Seahawks.

Bucky Brooks: Cardinals. This is one of the few teams capable of packing a punch on both sides of the ball. The energetic defense attacks from every angle, while the offense lights up the scoreboard like a pinball machine. The combination makes the Cardinals the scariest team to face in the postseason.

Elliot Harrison: Cardinals. Arizona's offense is too powerful and its defense too opportunistic to not win the division. ... Oh, and they're head coach is pretty good, too.

Shaun O'Hara: Cardinals.

Steve Mariucci: Cardinals.

Heath Evans: Cardinals.

 

NFC WILD CARD 1

Jeffri Chadiha: Atlanta Falcons. They have their flaws, but they're in great position to claim a postseason spot.

Judy Battista: Falcons. Lots of offense and a relatively easy closing schedule keep the Falcons ahead of a crowded field.

Willie McGinest: Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are flying under the radar, but the NFC North will get two teams in the playoffs.

Michael Silver: Arizona Cardinals. Let's put it simply: BA, All Day. Who wouldn't want to play for the man?

Maurice Jones-Drew: Cardinals.

Colleen Wolfe: Seattle Seahawks. Not dead yet.

Ike Taylor: St. Louis Rams. I feel like they're on the verge, and now their offense is playing as well as their defense.

Steve Wyche: Cardinals. A very dangerous team with a running game to take the predictability out of things.

Nate Burleson: Green Bay Packers. Even if Green Bay slips behind Minnesota, Aaron Rodgers will ensure the Pack makes the playoffs.

Gil Brandt: Vikings. I think Minnesota's defense is playing really well right now. The Vikings' offense isn't where it should be, but it will improve in the second half of the season.

Adam Schein: Vikings. Mike Zimmer's an excellent coach.

Marc Sessler: Rams. I initially had the Seahawks here, but let's roll the dice on Todd Gurley and the Rams.

Charley Casserly: Carolina Panthers. A 7-0 start propels this solid team to the postseason.

Bucky Brooks: Vikings. Minnesota is built to play in the playoffs, with its blue-collar offense and menacing defense. Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson and Stefon Diggs form a championship-caliber set of triplets, while the defense has enough young, athletic playmakers to disruptive the flow of any offense.

Elliot Harrison: Falcons. With an easy schedule and a 6-2 record, it's going to be difficult for Atlanta not to make the playoffs.

Shaun O'Hara: Panthers.

Steve Mariucci: Panthers.

Heath Evans: Vikings.

 

NFC WILD CARD 2

Jeffri Chadiha: St. Louis Rams. Todd Gurley's presence makes them extremely dangerous in the second half.

Judy Battista: Seattle Seahawks. The defense and running game haven't been the same, but this team has too much talent and experience to disappear.

Willie McGinest: Seahawks. This battle-tested squad will get it together.

Michael Silver: Seahawks. Somehow, some way, Pete Carroll's proud team will fight its way back into the postseason.

Maurice Jones-Drew: New Orleans Saints.

Colleen Wolfe: Atlanta Falcons. Julio Jones will drag them there.

Ike Taylor: Seahawks or Vikings. I know I'm not supposed to split this -- but I will. I can't pick one for another couple of weeks.

Steve Wyche: Minnesota Vikings. This defense will end the season as one of the best in the NFL. Teddy Bridgewater may be young compared to his playoff peers, but his supporting cast has his back.

Nate Burleson: Seahawks. You just can't count them out. They've been in the playoffs the last three years, and this year won't be any different.

Gil Brandt: Arizona Cardinals. Carson Palmer is having a phenomenal year, and the defense is pretty good.

Adam Schein: Falcons. They've looked shaky, but they have a quarterback.

Marc Sessler: Falcons. The schedule down the stretch helps a ton. They'll do enough to outlast Seattle and the Vikings.

Charley Casserly: Seahawks. Seattle's D is good enough to get them here, but this wild-card spot could come down to Seattle-Minnesota in Week 13.

Bucky Brooks: Seahawks. Seattle sneaks into the playoffs behind a defense that isn't as dominant as the previous versions, but has enough playmakers to wreak havoc on opponents.

Elliot Harrison: Seahawks. Seattle goes on a run to finish 10-6, narrowly edging the Vikings and Saints. Lynch and the defense are too much.

Shaun O'Hara: Seahawks.

Steve Mariucci: Seahawks.

Heath Evans: Saints.

 

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