2015 NFC playoff predictions: Cowboys or Eagles in the East?

On the cusp of the 2015 NFL season, our analysts provide their predictions, including the winners of individual awards, playoff teams for each conference and Championship Sunday/Super Bowl forecasts.


Judy Battista: Green Bay Packers. Losing Jordy Nelson hurts, but no team is better equipped to handle it. The Packers return virtually intact a team that was agonizingly close to the Super Bowl last year.

Jeffri Chadiha: Packers. Even without Jordy Nelson, this team is strong enough to claim this division.

Brian Billick: Minnesota Vikings. Defenses will continue to stack the box against Adrian Peterson, but I think Teddy Bridgewater will make them pay for it this year.

Michael Silver: Packers. Fueled by the emergence of Davante Adams as a legitimate star, Aaron Rodgers and friends will prevail again.

Colleen Wolfe: Packers. Even with Jordy Nelson going down, the Packers are still really deep on offense. Aaron Rodgers will spread the ball around to the other pass catchers, and Eddie Lacy will steamroll people again. It's still their division.

Steve Wyche: Packers. They deal with injuries to key players all the time -- usually on defense -- but this is still the best team in the division.

Gil Brandt: Packers. The divisional competition is strong, but Aaron Rodgers is just too good.

Adam Schein: Packers. It's Aaron Rodgers' world and we are all just living in it.

Charley Casserly: Packers. Led by Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay's still the top dog in the North.

Elliot Harrison: Packers. Green Bay bests Minnesota and Detroit in the division behind the legs of Eddie Lacy and the development of Devante Adams.

Marc Sessler: Packers.Jordy Nelson's out, but no team does a better job of drafting and grooming its own playmakers. Besides: Aaron Rodgers.

Dave Dameshek: Detroit Lions. This team is ripe. Time for Detroit to go on a run.

Bucky Brooks: Vikings. Mike Zimmer's band of bullies overpowers the Packers and Lions on the way to the division title. Adrian Peterson garners the headlines, but it's the play of Teddy Bridgewater that puts the Vikings over the top.


Judy Battista: Dallas Cowboys. We'll find out how much a great offensive line can make up for the lack of a top running back, but Greg Hardy and rookie Randy Gregory should improve a porous pass defense. Questions in the rest of the division give the Cowboys the edge.

Jeffri Chadiha: Cowboys.DeMarco Murray's gone, but that offensive line is still the best in the game.

Brian Billick: Philadelphia Eagles. It was an interesting way of going about it, but Chip Kelly has put together a roster full of guys who will excel in his scheme -- and it will pay off with a division championship this season.

Michael Silver: Cowboys. Last year was not a mirage -- that offensive line plus Scott Linehan's play-calling equals division dominance.

Steve Wyche: Cowboys. I want to go with Philly, but Sam Bradford's durability still concerns me. Dallas has more talent on defense than a lot of folks realize.

Gil Brandt: Cowboys.Tony Romo's performance makes the Cowboys this division's first repeat champions in 11 years. Running back Darren McFadden is a wild card, but he looked good in Week 3 of the preseason (37 yards on four carries).

Adam Schein: Eagles. Chip Kelly proves he is a genius with improvement from every area of his team.

Charley Casserly: Eagles.Sam Bradford stays healthy and the defense improves enough to help Philly win the division.

Elliot Harrison: Cowboys. In a division race that comes down to the wire, Dallas wins behind the top offensive line in football and best QB in the division.

Marc Sessler: Eagles. I won't be surprised when they finish with the NFC's best record.

Dave Dameshek: Eagles. For all the talk about Chip's moves on offense, Philly's D might actually end up being the best in the division.

Bucky Brooks: Eagles. Chip Kelly's retooled offense is nearly unstoppable behind the 1-2 punch of Demarco Murray and Ryan Matthews. Sam Bradford avoids the injury bug to lead the Eagles to the crown.


Judy Battista: Carolina Panthers. The absence of Kelvin Benjamin for the season is a huge blow, but Devin Funchess and Greg Olsen will cushion the blow and the defense should still be the best in the division.

Jeffri Chadiha: Panthers. Losing Kelvin Benjamin will hurt Cam Newton's effectiveness, but this team still wins with its defense.

Brian Billick: Panthers. This is more about the demise of the Saints, the defensive deficiencies of the Falcons and the rookie quarterback in Tampa Bay than it is about the Panthers.

Michael Silver: Tampa Bay Buccaneers.I picked them to win this sorry division last year -- oops -- and, against all logic, I'm getting right back on the horse.

Colleen Wolfe: Atlanta Falcons. They finally get it together. The defense will be better with Vic Beasley and Dan Quinn. But the division is such a disaster that you could just pick one of the teams out of a hat if you prefer.

Steve Wyche: New Orleans Saints. Crazy as it sounds, because they have the best O-line in the division. Defense is iffy, but the offense will be tougher in the run game.

Gil Brandt: Panthers. Defense leads the Panthers to their third straight divisional title -- and this time, they do it with a winning record. Cam Newton enjoys the best season of his career.

Adam Schein: Saints. First one to nine wins wins! I'm going with the Brees-Payton combo to finish a game ahead of the new-look Falcons.

Charley Casserly: Saints. The Saints have enough offense to edge out Carolina.

Elliot Harrison: Panthers. Carolina survives the loss of Kelvin Benjamin -- and the other wide receivers' growing pains -- to win a relatively weak division.

Marc Sessler: Saints. NFC South jokes are easy, but New Orleans will thrive after putting Drew Brees into a Cowboys-esque run-heavy attack.

Dave Dameshek: Falcons. The Kelvin Benjamin injury swings* the division to a still-flawed Falcons team. (*Division swings back to Charlotte if Julio Jones gets hurt).

Bucky Brooks: Saints. Sean Payton leans on the running game and spectacular play of Brandin Cooks to capture the title. Drew Brees is no longer a supreme playmaker in his prime, but his efficient play is just enough to notch an 11-5 record.


Judy Battista: Seattle Seahawks. At least if they insist on throwing from the 1-yard line again, they have the right weapon to aim for in tight end Jimmy Graham. The offensive line is suspect and Seattle needs Kam Chancellor to show up, but there is little reason to think the Seahawks won't have a very good chance of getting a do-over on that Super Bowl disaster.

Jeffri Chadiha: Seahawks. The offensive line is an issue. Everything else looks scary (in a good way).

Brian Billick: Seahawks. How can you argue with back-to-back Super Bowl appearances? Until someone else in the NFC proves they can knock the 'Hawks off their pedestal, I'm rolling with Seattle.

Michael Silver: Seahawks. They're mad as hell and not going to pass it on the goal line anymore ... unless they're lobbing it up for Jimmy Graham.

Colleen Wolfe: Seahawks. You already know. Everyone knows.

Steve Wyche: Seahawks. They are just so loaded. That said, it might take them a while to get going, especially with the Kam Chancellor situation. The O-line is a legit concern.

Gil Brandt: Seahawks. The Seahawks' dominant D and ground game keep Seattle atop the field, though the team will be challenged.

Adam Schein: Seahawks. This team has a ton of talent at every level.

Charley Casserly: Seahawks. They are still the best in the division, with minimal turnover from last year.

Elliot Harrison: Seahawks. Seattle tops Arizona and St. Louis by sticking to the formula that has worked so well: run the football and limit points. No change needed.

Marc Sessler: Seahawks. Everyone's easy pick in the West. No team has a more talented core signed for years to come.

Dave Dameshek: Seahawks. The NFC West is no longer the toughest division in the league. The Hawks win it going away.

Bucky Brooks: Seahawks. The AFC West is tougher, but the additions of Jimmy Graham and Tyler Lockett pay huge dividends down the stretch. The increased scoring from the offense and special teams complements a suffocating defense.


Judy Battista: Minnesota Vikings. They're a trendy pick for good reason. An up-and-coming quarterback, a great running back and improvements in Mike Zimmer's defense. They're still a ways away from catching the Packers, though.

Jeffri Chadiha: Detroit Lions. Yes, the defense won't be the same without Ndamukong Suh. It also won't be bad with the healthy return of Stephen Tulloch and the addition of Haloti Ngata.

Brian Billick: Arizona Cardinals.Carson Palmer is going to have his best season as a pro at the ripe age of 35.

Michael Silver: St. Louis Rams. Give them 16 games of a healthy Nick Foles -- unspectacular or otherwise -- and they'll be good enough to pound their foes into submission.

Colleen Wolfe: Dallas Cowboys. The defense will be much-improved and the offense won't miss DeMarco Murray as much as people think. The hype train needs to slow down before it careens off the tracks, though.

Steve Wyche: Vikings. They are built to do major damage in the postseason.

Gil Brandt: Philadelphia Eagles. Better defensive play and a full season from a resurgent Sam Bradford help the Eagles to the playoffs for the second time in Chip Kelly's three-year tenure.

Adam Schein: Cardinals. Arizona has the best coach/general manager combo in the league and will compete for the NFC West title.

Charley Casserly: Cowboys. Improved pass rush will help balance loss of DeMarco Murray.

Elliot Harrison: Cardinals. Arizona secures a wild-card spot with a little more Carson Palmer and a little less timely defense. That side of the ball will still hold its own, but not be as stout as 2014.

Marc Sessler: Lions. Stafford would need to be kidnapped by a gang of angry political dissidents to avoid making plays with all that talent around him.

Dave Dameshek: Green Bay Packers. Maybe I'm a prisoner of the moment, but the August injuries make this feel like one of those Rodgers-singlehandedly-wills-the-depleted-Pack-to-the-playoffs kinda seasons.

Bucky Brooks: Cowboys. The Cowboys overcome a slow start to earn a playoff berth. The additions of Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory give the D a devastating set of bookend rushers to attack QBs from the edges.


Judy Battista: Arizona Cardinals. Everything hinges on Carson Palmer's health. If he makes it through the season, this is a potentially dangerous playoff team provided the defense adjusts to life without Todd Bowles.

Jeffri Chadiha: Philadelphia Eagles. Chip Kelly has plenty to prove with all those offseason personnel moves. With two 10-win seasons in two years, it's hard to bet against him.

Brian Billick: Green Bay Packers.Aaron Rodgers is the best player in the NFL. There's no chance I'm keeping him out of the playoffs.

Michael Silver: Minnesota Vikings. This is the year that people start to understand how good Teddy Bridgewater is going to be.

Colleen Wolfe: Vikings. Led by COY Mike Zimmer. (I've probably doomed the Vikings. I'm sorry, Minnesotans. Have a Jucy Lucy and forget your troubles.)

Steve Wyche: Detroit Lions. Another overlooked team. The defense will miss Suh, but this team might be better overall than last season's edition.

Gil Brandt: Vikings. The return of veteran back Adrian Peterson and an even better defense make the Vikings a factor in the conference.

Adam Schein: Vikings.Adrian Peterson changes everything.

Charley Casserly: Cardinals. I am basing this on Carson Palmer playing 16 games.

Elliot Harrison: Eagles. Philadelphia doesn't take the NFC East, but makes playoffs anyway with 10 wins. The Sam Bradford acquisition pays dividends for a prolific offense.

Marc Sessler: Cardinals. I see a team with weaknesses, but I also see Bruce Arians. Arizona's badass, talented coach will tug this club into January.

Dave Dameshek: Vikings. Leaving the Cowboys out of the postseason mix feels weird, but it's even tougher to sleep on Minny's potential powerhouse of an offense.

Bucky Brooks: Packers.Aaron Rodgers single-handedly guides the Packers into the postseason behind his sensational play from the pocket. The loss of Jordy Nelson diffuses some of the offense's potency, but Rodgers helps Ty Montgomery and Davante Adams grow into big-time playmakers.

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