The 2020 NFL regular season is over, which means there are only 14 teams that are guaranteed another game, and the other 18 teams have started their offseason. With Wild-Card Weekend ahead and Super Bowl LV drawing near the NFL betting season will be coming to a climatic close. But, there’s still time to read our NFC betting review and place your wagers.
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NFC Betting Review
The end of the season brings with it the opportunity for each team to look back and reflect on what unfolded. The teams that did not make the playoffs will need to take a hard look in the mirror and answer some tough questions. The NFL is a business and when there is money on the line everyone involved in an organization will go through an evaluation and will receive feedback.
I am going to give a final grade to each team in the NFC and give some reflections on their individual seasons. There were some nice surprises in the NFC – along with some terribly disappointing seasons, and everything in between. I will also grade each division as a whole compared to the rest of the divisions in the NFL. The NFC East, as you may already have guessed, is the division that received the lowest grade out of the eight.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) January 2, 2021
NFC Betting Review: North Divisional
Grade: B (.515)
The NFC’s No. 1 seed is the Kings of the North, the (13-3) Packers. The division also is sending the (8-8) Bears to the postseason as the No. 7 seed. At the beginning of the year, many analysts were split between three different teams to win the division, but the Packers ultimately ran away from the competition.
Green Bay Packers (13-3): A (.813) — Salutatorian
- Projected win total — 8.5
- NFC Playoffs — No. 1 seed – Wild Card Round Bye
The No. 1 seed in each conference are the only teams to receive a bye during the Wild Card round in this year’s new 14-team playoffs. The Packers have a week to rest and and find ways to tweak things and get better while the other six teams in the NFC battle for elimination. The Packers will play host, as long as they win, and will be allowing 6,000 fans to attend the playoff games at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers, with a solid-defense, in Lambeau, in January, equals tough to beat.
Aaron Rodgers led almost every significant passing category in 2020, posting a grand 48:5 TD-to-INT ratio and the league’s best passer rating at 121.5. He also posted the league’s best TD-to-INT ratio on deep passes at 12:0, and threw the most touchdown passes on play-action passes (20) in the history of recording the stat. His historic season has him sitting atop as the NFL’s MVP betting-odds favorite.
Rodgers’ connection with his All-Pro WR Devante Adams is special and has only gotten more potent throughout their time together, and this season it was a pleasure to watch. Rodgers posted an incredible 136 passer rating when targeting Adams, which was by far the best mark in the entire league when it comes to targeting one receiver. Adams’ 18 touchdowns helped power that statistic and the Packers No. 1 scoring offensive in the NFL (31.8 points/game).
Six #Packers players earn AP All-Pro honors!
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) January 8, 2021
Chicago Bears (8-8): B- (.500)
- Projected win total — 8
- NFC Playoffs — No. 7 Seed at No. 2 Saints
The Chicago Bears managed to capture the NFC’s No. 7 seed in Week 17 of the regular season, but it was not because they won. They were actually blown out by the Packers 35-16, but the fact that the Cardinals lost was enough to give Chicago it’s second playoff berth in three years. The Bears had two three-game winning streaks this season and they won five out of their first six games. The Bears followed their hot-start up with six straight losses that jeopardized their playoff hopes.
When everything seemed like it was falling apart, QB Mitch Trubisky re-entered the Bears starting lineup to breathe life back-into Chicago’s season. The Bears defense has been the key to their .500 season but their secondary is beaten up and could be exposed in the playoffs by the Saints’ air-attack. This team will need a super-human performance from Trubisky throughout the playoffs if they do not want to be one-and-done.
This is Mitch Trubisky…the future Bears QB. Just like his car he will be average and last a long time but never be great. I hope I'm wrong pic.twitter.com/o9pTMdgXdy
— Dane Baldwin (@baldwin_dane51) May 12, 2017
Minnesota Vikings (7-9): C+ (.438)
- Projected win total — 9
- 2020 Draft position — No. 14
The Minnesota Vikings showed flashes of brilliance offensively all year, but the inexperience in their defense led to many mistakes and ultimately loses. Franchise QB Kirk Cousins had a solid year even after the team decided to trade All-Pro WR Stefon Diggs to the Bills. The loss of Diggs was not felt for very long because the Vikings rookie first-round pick Justin Jefferson busted onto the NFL scene early in the season and eventually broke the rookie season receiving-yards record with his 1,400 yards.
The Vikings also have one of the NFL’s best running backs in Dalvin Cook. Cook’s 1,557 rushing yards and 16 rushing TDS ranks No. 2 in both categories, and he only played in 13½ games. With a good offseason the Vikings should be able to compete next year for a division title.
Detroit Lions (5-11): D (.313)
- Projected win total — 7
- 2020 Draft position — No. 7
The Detroit Lions had another dysfunctional season behind solid QB play by Mathew Stafford. The Lions will have their 13th top-10 draft pick over the past 20 years. Detroit fired the head coach and again will be looking for someone to come and turn this organization around.
NFC Betting Review: South Divisional
Grade: B- (.500)
The NFC South is host to the NFC’s No. 2 seed and No. 5 seed this postseason. The two teams that finished at the bottom of the division both have pieces to build around and they both will have top-10 draft picks in this year’s draft.
New Orleans Saints (12-4): A- (.750)
- Projected win total — 10.5
- NFC Playoffs — No. 2 seed vs No. 7 Bears
The New Orleans Saints won their fourth-straight division championship and seventh since 2006, when coach Sean Payton took over the team. They became the first team to ever sweep every opponent in the NFC South. The Payton/Brees era brought the franchise its only Super Bowl victory and the two are back as one of the best teams in their conference. The Saints’ only Super Bowl MVP – Drew Brees is 41 years old and is looking to go out on top.
The Saints have the best defense in the NFC and they rank No. 3 in the league in points allowed (21.1) this season. The defense mixed with some of the most diverse sets of weapons for Payton to use on the offensive side of the ball, makes New Orleans a serious contender. All-Pro RB Alvin Kamara once again defined dual-threat, finishing No. 3 in total yards from scrimmage with 1688 and No. 1 with 21 total TDs this season.
The Saints have the pleasure of hosting playoff games in the Superdome until the Conference Championship. I expect the Saints to get back to the NFC Championship game this year.
So if there are apparently no First Team All-Pros on the Saints, shouldn't Sean Payton be named Coach of the Year for winning 12 games.
What's it gonna be, NFL? pic.twitter.com/DmsfNLCBiz
— Chris Rosvoglou (@RosvoglouReport) January 8, 2021
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5): B+ (.688)
- Projected win total — 9.5
- NFC Playoffs — No. 5 seed at No. 4 Washington
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in their first playoffs since 2007. Bruce Arians was brought in last year to finally turn things around and the organizations went out and spent a lot of money in free agency this year to bring in some seasoned-vets that include Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski, RB LeSean McCoy and WR Antonio Brown just to name a few. The investments are playing off in 2020, which is good because this team is not built for the future.
Brady had one of his best statistical seasons of his grandiosos 20-year career in his first-year with a new team and coach. The Bucs are as well rounded and as deep as anyone in the NFC, and all five of their losses came at the hands of a team that made it to the postseason. I always said I would never bet against Brady and Belichick in the playoffs and I still think I feel that way about Brady without Belichick.
Brady led the No. 3 scoring offense (30.8 points per game) and No. 2 passing attack (289.1 passing yards per game) this season. The six time Super Bowl champ is all too familiar with the pressure of the playoffs and he is still the guy any coach would want to lead his team to victory in January.
Tom Brady leads the way in career postseason passing yards in @NFL history… by a lot.
— #DivisionalRound on NBC (@SNFonNBC) January 8, 2021
Carolina Panthers (5-11): D (.313)
- Projected win total — 5.5
- 2020 Draft position — No. 8
The Carolina Panthers lost their All-Pro running back Christan McCaffrey to an NFL injury for most of the year and the Panthers entered the year with a new QB and coaching staff. The Panthers played well in most of their games, but could not compete for four-quarters week-in and week-out.
The young Panthers defense has a lot of room for improvement this offseason. They need to figure out their secondary woes after giving up 28 touchdowns through the air this season. QB Teddy Bridgewater should be able to take a step forward in the offense with a healy McCaffrey and another year in the system. There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for the Panthers.
Atlanta Falcons (4-12): D- (.250)
- Projected win total — 7.5
- 2020 Draft position — No. 4
The Atlanta Falcons continually found ways to blow-leads again this year. Atlanta blowing leads has been a trend since the infamous huge blown-lead in Super Bowl LI back in 2017. The Falcons have a very talented roster for a team with a top-five draft pick and should be able to improve next year.
The biggest bright spot for the Falcons this year was WR Calvin Ridley who finished the year with 90 receptions, 1,374 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns in fifteen games this season. Another star Alabama player in the NFL is forming and it should not come as a surprise.
NFC Betting Review: West Divisional
Grade: B+ (.563)
The NFC West will also be sending the, No. 3 and No. 6 seeds to the playoffs this year and had the second best divisional winning percentage in the NFL. The division that most people thought had the strongest four teams to start the season lived up to the hype. The NFC West will be even harder to predict next year.
Seattle Seahawks (12-4): A- (.750)
- Projected win total — 9.5
- NFC Playoffs — No. 3 seed vs No. 6 Rams
The Seattle Seahawks are back on top of the NFC West for the first time since 2016. Seahawks fans have become accustomed to football games in January under head coach Pete Carroll as their team is headed to the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 years under Carroll. Carroll has been blessed with one of the league’s most-underrated quarterbacks – Russell Wilson.
Wilson started the season leading the league in many passing categories and was the early MVP talk, but something shifted for Wilson and the Seahawks in the second half of the season. Russ stopped Cookin’, but the Seahawks were winning behind their defense who also has had a story of two different halves. Seattle’s defense was on a historically bad pace for the first half of the season, and now behind the play of All-Pro S Jamal Adams, the unit has turned things around.
On a whole the Seahawks as a team have not done anything spectacularly well for a No. 3 seed. If you’ve watched any NFL football in the last 10 years, you probably know that Wilson is as good as anyone in crunch time which makes Seattle a tough out in the NFC tournament. Wilson’s success is directly linked to his star receivers’ D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett’s ability to take over a game at any moment and change the outcome.
Los Angeles Rams (10-6): B (.625)
- Projected win total — 8.5
- NFC Playoffs — No. 6 seed at No. 3 Seahawks
With their franchise-QB watching from the sidelines, the Los Angeles Rams locked up a playoff spot with an 18-7 win over their division-rival Cardinals in Week 17. Jarred Goff is expected to play Saturday, but it is unknown if he will actually be a hundred percent or anywhere near it following surgery last week on his throwing-hand thumb.
Goff lost his last two starts to the New York Jets and Seahawks which had the Rams sweating entering Week 17. L.A. has shown flashes of brilliance on both sides of the ball this season, and during other times they have played very poorly. The Rams season was a bit of a roller-coaster ride, just as I thought they were turning the corner as one of the NFL best teams they would take a step back and lose to someone that they should have beaten.
The Rams enter the postseason with the top-ranked defense in points allowed, giving up a meager 18.5 points a game. They have only given up 30+ points once this season — Week 3, Bills won at home 35-32. If the offense can stay consistent for four quarters then this team is capable of beating anyone.
Arizona Cardinals (8-8): C+ (.500)
- Projected win total — 7.5
- 2020 Draft position — No. 16
The Arizona Cardinals were in the NFC playoff hunt all season, but they were eliminated after losing their last two games to NFC West opponents. The Cardinals defeated the (13-3) Buffalo Bills and (12-4) Seahawks but lost to the (5-11) Detroit Lions and (5-11) Carolina Panthers in consecutive weeks.
The Cardinals have their franchise QB in Kyler Murray and the trade for WR DeAndre Hopkins has already paid off. This team is a couple of pieces away from sitting atop of this division. The real issue with that last statement is that the NFC West is one of the league’s most competitive divisions and if the Cardinals want to capture a title they will need to be much more consistent.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury has turned the team around, but as he enters his third year with the organization, he knows the pressure is on to make the postseason.
San Francisco 49ers (6-10): D+ (.375)
- Projected win total — 10.5
- 2020 Draft position — No. 12
The San Francisco 49ers are a great example of how quickly things can turn around for a team. A year after winning the NFC and making it to the Super Bowl, the 49ers finished last in their division and have the No. 12 spot in the draft. The 49ers went from four-wins in 2018 to 13 wins in 2019 back down to six-wins in 2020.
The biggest reason the 49ers could not find success this season was because the team was constantly battling with injuries at seemingly every position throughout the entire season. Expect this team to turn things back around next season, but they do need to figure out who their QB is first.
NFC Betting Review: East Divisional
Grade: D- (.359)
Okay, I wanted to fail the NFC East but the NFL has it set-up that the divisional champion gets into the playoffs despite their record, which means a division cannot totally fail. The NFC East still has a shot to win the Super Bowl this season even though the divisions top-team the Washington Football Team finished below .500.
Washington Football Team (7-9): C (.438)
- Projected win total — 5
- NFC Playoffs — No. 4 seed vs No. 5 Buccaneers
Washington Football Team won its first division title since 2015 which was also the last season they were in the playoffs. 2020 was a strange tough season for every team in the NFL, but the WFT seemed to have the most bumps in the road and still found a way to win their putrid division.
Coach Ron Rivera was battling cancer this season. The team’s leading passer Alex Smith had not played a game since 2018 because he was dealing with a horrible leg injury that required seventeen surgeries and for him to battle off a life-threatening infection before he could play football again. Washington making the playoffs is the best feel-good story in the NFL this year. That’s even if it was one of the ugliest routes to get there.
The defense led by rookie Pro-Bowl DE Chase Young has scrapped all year to make the most out of the season. The best defense in the NFC East ultimately came out on top and took home the crown. But, they will have their hands-full when Brady and the Bucs come to town this weekend. The key to their success has been, and will be, their front-four’s ability to get to the quarterback – finished the season with 47 sacks which ranked them No. 5 in the NFL.
New York Giants (6-10): C- (.375)
- Projected win total — 6.5
- 2020 Draft position — No. 11
After ripping off four-straight wins, the New York Giants controlled their own destiny to the playoffs with four weeks left to play in the season. New York went on to lose three straight which allowed Washington to surpass them and control the division lead. The Giants beat the Cowboys 23-19 to give their playoff dreams one more dash of hope. But then they were eliminated when Washington took down the Eagles on Sunday night.
The Giants feel like they are right on track and Daniel Jones is their QB of the future. Their defense is solid and should continue to grow and improve. The offense should also improve next season with their stud running-back Shaquon Barkley returning from a knee-injury that ended his season this year. The future looks pretty bright in New York for the G-Men.
Dallas Cowboys (6-10): D+ (.375)
- Projected win total — 10
- 2020 Draft position — No. 10
The Dallas Cowboys get a worse grade than the Giants even though they had the same record for multiple reasons. The Cowboys had a lot higher expectations this season and finished behind the Giants in the division standings.
Even before their franchise-QB Dak Prescott was lost for the season due to a compound fracture of his right ankle the Cowboys were struggling to win games. The defense could not stop anyone this year. Without Prescott to lead their offense Dallas struggled to keep up with many opponents.
The bright-side for the Cowboys is that they have a solid-core to build around for next season and that core is good-enough to turn things around quickly.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1): D- (.281)
- Projected win total — 9.5
- 2020 Draft position — No. 6
When the season began there were many analysts that thought the Eagles would win this division and be a threat in the NFC. Those people did not expect QB Carson Wentz to morph into the league’s worst QB. Wentz who was benched in Week 13 was still sacked a league high 50 times and threw the most (15) interceptions this season.
The Philadelphia Eagles are shaking things up this offseason by letting go out assistant coaches and front-office staff. The Eagles QB situation heading into next season will be highly discussed and debated this offseason. This division will be anyone’s for the taking once-again next season. The Eagles have spent a lot of money to win now and should be able to compete for a title next season.