2016 NFL midseason predictions: Who gets NFC wild-card bids?

At the midpoint of the 2016 NFL season, our analysts refresh their predictions on the major individual awards, the entire playoff field and Championship Sunday/Super Bowl LI outcomes.


Judy Battista: Minnesota Vikings. All those offensive personnel losses are balanced out by a suffocating defense.

Jeffri Chadiha: Vikings. The Vikings have overcome all sorts of challenges to stay on top of this division through the first half. It's hard to see them falling apart now.

Gil Brandt: Green Bay Packers. They have a very good quarterback and a healthy offensive-defensive balance; that the defense is ranked seventh overall is surprising, given the injuries they've dealt with at corner.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Vikings. I originally had the Packers winning the NFC North, but the Vikings have shown me they are likely to repeat.

Brian Billick: Packers. The defense has been stronger than I thought and I have to believe that Aaron Rodgers will re-establish his excellence in the second half of the season. I happen to really like what Ty Montgomery can do for this team as a running back and think that might become his home for the long term.

Gregg Rosenthal: Packers. They have quietly survived injuries in the secondary, and Aaron Rodgers has mixed in some excellent games along with stinkers. Their problems aren't as significant as the Vikings' problems.

Willie McGinest: Packers.Aaron Rodgers and Co. will get going in the second half of the season. Minnesota is too beat up to keep up this pace.

Adam Schein: Packers. This goes against conventional wisdom -- as they've been all banged-up -- but with Rodgers, I still believe.

David Carr: Packers. The Packers boast the best offense in the division, and that is what will get them back to the winner's circle.

Charley Casserly: Packers. Minnesota is too banged-up to contend over 16 games.

Ike Taylor: Vikings. The Vikes might be banged up, but the lights-out defense will keep them ahead of the Packers.

Colleen Wolfe: Packers. I'm worried about the Vikings. The once 5-0 darlings of the division are showing some signs of weakness (or maybe they're just feeling a little too comfortable around us now). Their offensive line and defense dipped out for a couple games -- and until that's fixed, the Packers will happily take back the division title.

Marcas Grant: Packers. The Vikings' defense might be good, but you still need to score points. Even with all of their problems, the Packers are still pretty good at doing that. Better than Minnesota, anyway.

Adam Rank: Packers. I'm not inspired by this pick at all. This race is going to get really crazy down the stretch.

Alex Gelhar: Packers. This offense is finally finding an identity, which should be just enough for them to leapfrog Minnesota in the standings.


Judy Battista: Dallas Cowboys. They'll have to navigate the Tony Romo situation, but Dak Prescott's steadiness is the perfect complement to Ezekiel Elliott.

Jeffri Chadiha: Cowboys. The Cowboys have won with a rookie quarterback, a rookie running back and a revived defense. After Sam Bradford, Dak Prescott is the biggest surprise in the league.

Gil Brandt: Cowboys. Their robust rushing attack (164.9 yards per game) will help significantly when it comes to late-season showdowns at cold-weather locales like New Yorkand Philadelphia.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Cowboys. The Cowboys' defense is playing better than I thought it would be. Couple that with a run game that can't be stopped and a consistent rookie QB, and the equation equals a division winner.

Brian Billick: Cowboys. Much like the Packers, the Cowboys feature a defense that has been surprisingly tough. And we already know about their running game.

Gregg Rosenthal: Philadelphia Eagles. I called this the worst division in football before the season. Whoops.

Willie McGinest: Cowboys. There is no slowing this offense down, especially now with Dez Bryant back. The Cowboys should ride with the rookies into the January sunset.

Adam Schein: Cowboys. This is a complete team. Hopeful the owner won't force a Romo disruption.

David Carr: Cowboys. Led by a pair of rookies, the Cowboys are having a magical season. They will win this division barring a quarterback controversy resulting in a locker room meltdown.

Charley Casserly: Cowboys. The most consistent team in the division. Dallas can't lose Ezekiel Elliott, though.

Ike Taylor: Cowboys. The sting of last year's playoff absence is strong. This team is making it a point to win the NFC East this year.

Colleen Wolfe: Cowboys.Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and that offensive line have the Cowboys playing like a team programed in a Westworld lab. Cowboys win the NFC East, but Ed Harris is lurking somewhere in the playoff shadows ready to change the entire narrative. It's his world. He makes the rules. Not us.

Marcas Grant: Cowboys. The youth movement in Dallas is paying off in a big way, and the duo of Dak and Zeke is going to bring a division title to north Texas this season.

Adam Rank: Cowboys. ... But I reserve the right to change my mind if the Cowboys end up doing something stupid (like making Tony Romo the starter over a healthy Dak).

Alex Gelhar: Cowboys. While the offensive rookies get the attention, the defense is what is setting up Dallas for a potential playoff bye.


Judy Battista: Atlanta Falcons. Assuming anybody wants to win this division, the Falcons would seem the most capable, with an improving defense providing some help to Julio Jones.

Jeffri Chadiha: Falcons. Carolina's demise has opened the door for the Falcons to rise up. Atlanta still has major issues on defense, but that offense is prolific.

Gil Brandt: Falcons. The league's top offensive team (which also boasts an improving defense) does play four of its last eight on the road, but I don't think Carolina and New Orleans are playing well enough to bother Atlanta.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Falcons. To everyone's surprise, the Panthers have taken two steps back, opening up the division to a dynamic Atlanta offense. I don't think the Falcons are going to implode like they did in 2015.

Brian Billick: Falcons. After losing two heartbreakers in a row, the Falcons pulled off a thrilling win over the Packers. In what has become a stinker of a division, Atlanta appears to be the best of the bunch.

Gregg Rosenthal: Carolina Panthers. Before the season, I asked if the Panthers could turn into a Seahawks- or Patriots-like organization that ranks in the top five each year. The answer is clearly no, but don't give up on them yet.

Willie McGinest: Falcons. The Falcons have taken advantage of the Panthers' slow start. They are the new team to beat in the South.

Adam Schein: Falcons. No second-half collapse this year.

David Carr: Falcons.Matt Ryan and Co. have proven they are the ones to beat.

Charley Casserly: Falcons. Atlanta's a better team this year -- on offense and defense -- than the team that collapsed last year.

Ike Taylor: Falcons. They are running away with this one.

Colleen Wolfe: Falcons. Unlike last year, Atlanta will continue beating teams into the second half of the season. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are lighting up defenses with the help of Mohamed Sanu, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman and Alex Mack (the most underrated free-agent signing of the offseason).

Marcas Grant: Falcons. Just when everyone started to doubt the Falcons, they get a big win to quiet fears. This is a different group and good enough to lock up the NFC South.

Adam Rank: Falcons. It would actually shock me if the Falcons folded. Huge wins over Denverand Green Bay.

Alex Gelhar: Falcons. This is far from a perfect team, but Matt Ryan is playing too well and has too many weapons on offense to lose this division at this point.


Judy Battista: Seattle Seahawks. We offer this pick with a caveat: They have to figure out a way to protect Russell Wilson.

Jeffri Chadiha: Seahawks. The Seahawks figured to have more competition for this division title from Arizona. That still might happen, but it's hard to see Seattle not claiming this crown right now.

Gil Brandt: Seahawks. They have a very good defense and a playmaking quarterback who, it stands to reason, should get healthier, and that should be enough to give Seattle this division.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Seahawks. The Seahawks have too much talent and a crafty coach leading the way. They take back the West, especially since Arizona is surprisingly struggling.

Brian Billick: Seahawks.Russell Wilson has still been playing at a pretty high level despite a lower-leg injury that has made him completely one dimensional. He is on pace to rush for just 100 yards on the season, but if he can get fully healthy, the Seahawks will take the offense up a notch.

Gregg Rosenthal: Seahawks. Their defense is as loaded as ever and the offense has room to grow when Russell Wilson gets healthy. Wilson's young receiver group has a chance to grow up with him.

Willie McGinest: Seahawks. Another year with early-season struggles, but Pete Carroll always gets this team going down the stretch. This year will be no different.

Adam Schein: Arizona Cardinals. It's more that I don't trust Seattle's offensive line.

David Carr: Seahawks. Right now, this is anyone's division, but I think the Seahawks are likely to pull away.

Charley Casserly: Seahawks. The defense will carry them to the division title.

Ike Taylor: Seahawks. I can't see a playoff picture without this team.

Colleen Wolfe: Seahawks. Seattle's defense still looks nasty and Jimmy Graham's role in the offense is finally expanding. spirit fingers But @DangeRussWilson has been playing conservatively after multiple injuries limited his mobility to just 44 rushing yards through eight games -- the same number of rushing yards Tom Brady has through four games. That's problematic now, but it won't be in the second half of the season. Dr. Wolfe has all the answers.

Marcas Grant: Seahawks. Seattle is the least flawed team in an enormously flawed division. As the 'Hawks get healthier, it's bad news for the rest of their competition.

Adam Rank: Seahawks. This will become a chore if Wilson can't get right.

Alex Gelhar: Seahawks. If he has to do so by sheer will alone, Russell Wilson will get this team to the postseason. Hopefully he can heal up by then, too.


Judy Battista: Green Bay Packers. Just can't believe Aaron Rodgers is not going to fully get his groove back down the stretch.

Jeffri Chadiha: Packers. Yes, the Packers are struggling to find more consistency on offense. That doesn't mean Aaron Rodgers can't lead this team back to the playoffs yet again.

Gil Brandt: Philadelphia Eagles. They are playing good defense and get to face their three divisional rivals in Philly in the last four weeks of the season.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Los Angeles Rams. Surprise! The Rams are going to sneak in this season. Todd Gurley takes off in the second half and steals the hearts of all Angelenos.

Brian Billick: Eagles. The Eagles will get a chance to redeem their Week 8 loss in Dallas, as they host the Cowboys in Week 17. And that game may very well decide the division and the wild card.

Gregg Rosenthal: Minnesota Vikings. They have shown too much toughness, defensive talent and home-field advantage to give up on them now. This is my one NFC playoff prediction that changed since Week 1, swapping out the dreadful Bucs.

Willie McGinest: Vikings. This defense has talent at every level and has shown us it can lead a down offense to victory.

Adam Schein: Vikings. That defense and coaching staff!

David Carr: Eagles.Carson Wentz continues to play efficient football. And Jim Schwartz's defense is a force.

Charley Casserly: Washington Redskins. The offense will carry them into the playoffs.

Ike Taylor: Redskins. Jay Gruden's group is often overlooked, but their steadiness will earn them a spot.

Colleen Wolfe: Vikings. Minnesota is going to the playoffs again! And it can't be as miserable as last season's frozen soul crusher. But for real, can someone please get Bud Grant a jacket this time?

Marcas Grant: Vikings. It's not all bad for Minnesota -- as long as they can keep Sam Bradford healthy and just productive enough to avoid a late-season implosion.

Adam Rank: Eagles. The defense plays well enough in spots. Carson Wentz plays well enough, too. I like it.

Alex Gelhar: Vikings. Even if they can't fix the offensive line, the Vikes are in a good spot to secure a playoff bid for the second consecutive year.


Judy Battista: Philadelphia Eagles.Carson Wentz is a nice story, but it's Jim Schwartz's defense that will power this team to the playoffs.

Jeffri Chadiha: Arizona Cardinals. Nobody saw the Cardinals being 3-4-1 at the midway point. But just think where they would be if two makeable game-winning field goals hadn't failed. This team is better than its record.

Gil Brandt: Detroit Lions. I scratched out my choice here about three times before settling on Detroit, which has an outstanding QB in Matthew Stafford -- who could easily be considered the first-half MVP -- plus an improving defense.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Green Bay Packers.Aaron Rodgers has his main man (Jordy Nelson) back, and these two will connect enough to get back to the playoffs.

Brian Billick: Lions.Matt Stafford has been having a career year in his first full season with Jim Bob Cooter as the offensive coordinator, and I'll go with the best quarterback in a tight race between the Vikings, Giants, Cardinals and Redskins.

Gregg Rosenthal: Cardinals. This is no longer an explosive team on offense and the team's offensive line problems likely will prevent a second-half run.

Willie McGinest: Eagles. I'm sticking with Doug Pederson's Eagles. Carson Wentz has shown me he has what it takes to lead a talented team to the playoffs.

David Carr: Vikings. If Sam Bradford protects the football, this team makes it in.

Charley Casserly: New York Giants. The defense will continue to get better. The Giants make it by default.

Ike Taylor: Los Angeles Rams. There is always one team that makes it in that is a surprise. The Rams get their offensive woes figured out and sneak in as the sixth seed.

Colleen Wolfe: Eagles. With at least one takeaway in every game through week 8, the defense is flying around like those new invisible cars. By 2017, offensive tackle Lane Johnson will be back with the team, drops will be a thing of the past (RIGHT?) and rookie QB Carson Wentz will continue to address Dak Prescott comparisons while low-key disliking it in the most polite way possible.

Marcas Grant: Eagles. The race to the finish in the NFC East could be the most entertaining thing about the second half. Chalk another up here for a rookie quarterback.

Adam Rank: Chicago Bears. LOOK, hear me out. HEAR ME OUT. Or read me out. Peep the schedule and winnable games for the Bears. The Bucs, Giants, 49ers, Lions, Packers and Redskins get them to eight wins. A split with the Titans/Vikings should get them in at 9-7. A sweep obviously gets them in.

Alex Gelhar: Washington Redskins. The NFC East is muddled behind the Cowboys, but if the Redskins' defense can get healthy, their offense can win them nine games and a trip to the postseason again.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.