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2017 NFC playoff predictions: Giants take East; Falcons repeat

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  • By NFL.com
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With the 2017 NFL season just around the corner, our analysts provide their predictions, including the winners of individual awards, playoff teams for each conference and Championship Sunday/Super Bowl forecasts.

NFC EAST

Judy Battista: New York Giants. Lots of attention on the offensive line, but more weapons for Eli Manning and the return of a powerful defense put the Giants back at the top of a loaded division.

Steve Wyche: Philadelphia Eagles. This defensive front is going to cause problems, and Carson Wentz looks like the real deal. The blue-collar roster and work ethic is going to pay dividends.

Ike Taylor: Giants. Evan Engram is the X-factor the Giants have been looking for.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Giants. With the additions the Giants have made over the last two offseasons, this franchise is trying to buy a championship.

Jeffri Chadiha: Giants. Their offense gets so much exposure -- largely because of Odell Beckham Jr. -- that people forget how dominant they are on defense.

Heath Evans: Giants. They dominated Dallas last season and will dominate the division this year.

Gregg Rosenthal: Eagles. Any one of the NFC East's four teams could win the division and it wouldn't be a shock.

Gil Brandt: Giants. They have a great defense but need help in the run game. Eli Manning should have a banner year thanks to receiving additions.

Reggie Wayne: Giants. This team is probably the most balanced in the division.

Charley Casserly: Giants. The defense carries this team to the top of the NFC East.

Adam Rank: Dallas Cowboys. No Zeke, no problem with this offensive line, as Dak Prescott emerges as a true leader.

Dan Hanzus: Giants. You can make a case for any of the teams in this division getting a cap and T-shirt after Week 17, but the Giants are the safest choice.

Marc Sessler: Giants. One more playoff push for Eli on a Giants team led by its marvelous and deep defense.

Adam Schein: Eagles. I'm obsessed with Carson Wentz! And I loved the Alshon Jeffery signing. The Giants' defense and passing attack are splendid, but I think the Eagles' running backs and offensive line are vastly superior.

Dave Dameshek: Eagles. There are questions at CB, but EVERY team is weak somewhere. Philly's D has a rotation up front that recalls the key element of Tom Coughlin's Super Bowl-winning Giants.

NFC NORTH

Judy Battista: Green Bay Packers. We saw last season how the Packers can roar out of a slump. This time, their division supremacy won't be in doubt.

Steve Wyche: Packers. The defense clearly remains a weak spot, but offensively, the Packers are simply much better than any team in a better-than-it-seems division.

Ike Taylor: Detroit Lions. STAFFORD!

Maurice Jones-Drew: Packers. Aaron Rodgers carries this team again.

Jeffri Chadiha: Packers. They have enough firepower on offense, but their defense has to be better.

Heath Evans: Minnesota Vikings. Mike Zimmer's defense vs. Green Bay's offense? I'm taking Zimmer all day.

Dan Hanzus: Packers. They are the safest choice as long as Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers.

Gregg Rosenthal: Packers. Mike McCarthy's squad has made the Divisional Round in six of the last seven seasons, and this year's version looks better than usual.

Gil Brandt: Packers. Green Bay won six games in a row to close out the 2016 regular season and has better weapons this year.

Reggie Wayne: Packers. I was leaning toward Minnesota here, but I can't see the playoff picture without Aaron Rodgers.

Charley Casserly: Packers. The offense was good before Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks. It's even better now.

Adam Rank: Vikings. Dalvin Cook and a revamped offensive line thrive as the defense rebounds.

Marc Sessler: Packers. If not the Packers in the North, then who?

Adam Schein: Packers. Aaron Rodgers wins the MVP award and carries Green Bay to another division title.

Dave Dameshek: Packers. Green Bay's the obvious choice here ... but the Vikes and Lions are both flying under the radar right now, and the Bears have a shot to get to .500.

NFC SOUTH

Judy Battista: Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons will recover from their Super Bowl meltdown to win the division again, but the Bucs will give them a run for it.

Steve Wyche: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yep, I'm in on this trendy pick. This hard-hitting defense is going to cause an uptick in its opponents' dental-implant budgets.

Ike Taylor: Buccaneers. Jameis Winston is firing on all cylinders.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Buccaneers. Jameis makes enough plays to push the Bucs to the top.

Jeffri Chadiha: Falcons. The Falcons have enough talent to avoid the dreaded Super Bowl hangover.

Gregg Rosenthal: Falcons. The team's improving defense and depth throughout the roster should stave off any Super Bowl hangover.

Heath Evans: Falcons. The offense appears to be picking up where it left off and the defense is improved.

Dan Hanzus: Falcons. The fear of a Super Bowl hangover is very real, but it's still hard to imagine this offense not rolling up 30 points every week.

Gil Brandt: Falcons. Playing in the best division in the NFL, Matt Ryan continues to be outstanding and Dan Quinn is one of the best in the biz.

Reggie Wayne: Buccaneers. Dirk Koetter and Jameis Winston lead the Bucs to the top of possibly the toughest division in football.

Charley Casserly: Falcons. The defensive improvement will offset the slight setback they have on offense.

Adam Rank: Buccaneers. It's time.

Marc Sessler: Falcons. Ticket the Falcons for a first-round bye. They won't skip a beat while scorching teams with the NFL's most dangerous attack.

Adam Schein: Falcons. The Falcons are loaded and even better than last year!

Dave Dameshek: Falcons. I've had an 11th-hour epiphany: "Superman returns to form" and/or "Jameis is a charismatic leader" may both be true, but they aren't sufficient reasons/narratives to go against Quinn's gang. I do buy the idea of a Super Bowl hangover ... but I'm investing in what oughta be the division's clear-cut best D.

NFC WEST

Judy Battista: Seattle Seahawks. A strange offseason with indications of tension and trade speculation gives way to what could be a surprisingly easy division title for the Seahawks.

Steve Wyche: Seahawks. There is a frightening edge to these guys entering the season -- and that is frightening knowing how much of an edge they've always possessed.

Ike Taylor: Seahawks. Pete Carroll's defense is still one of the best in the league, and you can't count the offense out with Russell Wilson under center.

Gregg Rosenthal: Seahawks. A healthy, prime-year Russell Wilson with the best defense of the decade should be ready to make another Super Bowl run.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Seahawks. The Legion of Boom is happy again with the re-signing of Kam Chancellor.

Jeffri Chadiha: Seahawks. They face the same questions as last season: Can their offensive line and run game do enough to help this team return to another Super Bowl?

Heath Evans: Seahawks. Seattle has a healthy Russell Wilson and a defense that will be enough.

Dan Hanzus: Seahawks. It feels like this team has one more big run in it.

Gil Brandt: Seahawks. This team should have home-field advantage from playing in a weak division.

Reggie Wayne: Seahawks. Despite a few questions on offense, more often than not the defense takes Pete Carroll's group to the top.

Charley Casserly: Seahawks. Russell Wilson and the consistent defense make the difference.

Adam Rank: Seahawks. The offensive line remains a concern for this team, but the defense will carry the day.

Marc Sessler: Seahawks. Russell Wilson looks healthier than ever. The backfield is deep. The defense remains a beast.

Adam Schein: Seahawks. Russell Wilson is healthy and that changes everything. Seattle's D is still special.

Dave Dameshek: Seahawks. This team's on the cusp of a shake-up from the head coach on down. I say they go out with a bang.

NFC WILD CARD 1

Judy Battista: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Jameis Winston ascending to the top tier of quarterbacks, the only question is: Are the Bucs are a wild-card team or can they edge the Falcons for the division?

Steve Wyche: Atlanta Falcons. DO NOT SLEEP on this defense. Desmond Trufant is back and this lightning-fast unit should get the ball back to its offense quite a bit.

Ike Taylor: Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers is a magician.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Falcons. This whole team returns and is hungry for another go at a title.

Jeffri Chadiha: Dallas Cowboys. The loss of suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott puts this team in a deep hole to start the season.

Gregg Rosenthal: Arizona Cardinals. Carson Palmer and some of his young, rejuvenated friends (John Brown, Tyrann Mathieu) are good enough to win 11 games, which might not be enough to win the NFC West.

Heath Evans: New Orleans Saints. They'll have the best offense in the league.

Dan Hanzus: Buccaneers. Jameis Winston will play smarter and the Bucs will become a better team because of it.

Gil Brandt: Cowboys. Playing without Ezekiel Elliott for a while keeps them from winning the division. But, they still win 10 games.

Reggie Wayne: Cowboys. This offense -- even without Zeke -- is dominant. It's an offense that controls the clock and really boosts the defense, which this team needs.

Charley Casserly: Cowboys. They overcome a slow start and still make the playoffs.

Adam Rank: Packers. Aaron Rodgers alone isn't enough to win the division, but he's good enough to deliver another wild card.

Marc Sessler: Buccaneers. One of the league's most watchable upstarts finally brings joy to Tampa.

Adam Schein: Buccaneers. Tampa's offense is ready to dominate. And don't sleep on Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy on defense.

Dave Dameshek: Buccaneers. The "Hard Knocks" showings by Jameis, Gerald McCoy, Mike Evans, et al, make these guys easy to root for.

NFC WILD CARD 2

Judy Battista: Dallas Cowboys. Personnel questions on defense -- to say nothing of Ezekiel Elliott -- may cause concern, but the Cowboys still have plenty to make it as a wild card.

Steve Wyche: Arizona Cardinals. The early part of the schedule seems favorable. Final four games are brutal but if Carson Palmer doesn't turn the ball over, his and Fitz's swan songs could be pretty memorable.

Ike Taylor: Atlanta Falcons. This team will take the long route to the playoffs this time around. But a postseason bid might be all they need en route to the Super Bowl.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer get one final shot.

Jeffri Chadiha: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If WR DeSean Jackson and rookie TE O.J. Howard live up to expectations, Jameis Winston is going to take his game to another level.

Heath Evans: Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers is the man.

Gregg Rosenthal: New Orleans Saints. All Drew Brees needs is a defense approaching average. This is the season he gets one.

Dan Hanzus: Philadelphia Eagles. Carson Wentz takes the next step with a better supporting cast on offense.

Gil Brandt: Buccaneers. They are playing in the toughest division but have an ascending quarterback with a lot of weapons.

Reggie Wayne: Falcons. Atlanta had the best offense in the NFL in 2016. They aren't going to drop off that much without Kyle Shanahan.

Charley Casserly: Buccaneers. They break through due to an improved offense with DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard.

Adam Rank: Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton comes back in a big way. And now with Christian McCaffrey!

Marc Sessler: Eagles. Look for Jim Schartz to nab Assistant Coach of the Year honors after flipping the switch on one of the wildest defensive rosters league-wide.

Adam Schein: Cardinals. The Bird Gang is back. This team oozes talent. Last year's demise was flukish. David Johnson will run them into the playoffs.

Dave Dameshek: New York Giants. The O-line puts a ceiling on how far they can go, but the D is for real and the pass catchers are sublime.

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