Six teams make the playoffs in the NFC every year. If the Cowboys are going to be one of those teams this year, at least one of last year's playoff teams will have to give up its spot. And the odds are good that some of last year's playoff teams will stumble, as every season only about half of the previous season's teams repeat as playoff participants.
Last season, exactly half of the NFC East teams changed versus 2010, with the Eagles, Seahawks and Bears failing to repeat their playoff appearances.
Which brings us to our question for this lazy Sunday afternoon: Last year, the NFC was represented by the Giants, Packers, Lions, Saints, Falcons and 49ers. Which of these teams do you think will not make it back to the playoffs this season?
Place your vote in the attached poll. We'll assume that the three teams that get the most votes will not make the playoffs this season. In a follow-up post, you'll be able to vote on which three new teams you think will make it to the postseason this year.
OCC: I'm picking the Giants to miss the playoffs this season. I don't care that they won the Super Bowl. We all know that in the NFL, the results dictate the narrative and the narrative will always be adjusted to fit the results. But I don't buy all those stories about how great the Giants are. For me, the Giants remain a 9-7 team that struggled to get into the playoffs. I am not at all impressed by their offseason activities and see both the Eagles and Cowboys ahead of the Giants in the East.
Archie Barberio: The New Orleans Saints will go through a lot of turmoil in the 2012 season. The Saints have been transformed into a very consistent football team ever since Sean Payton has taken over the reigns in New Orleans. They have made the playoffs for three consecutive seasons and won their first Super Bowl in the 2009 season. Payton runs one of the best offenses in the NFL, but the Saints defense has also been a contributing factor in their success.
I believe the Saints will take a step backwards due to a lot of uncertainty throughout the organization. The circus in New Orleans right now is just going to be too much of a distraction for this team. The loss of Payton for one year will be a huge loss for the entire Saints organization because he is so important to that football team. Linebacker and defensive leader Jonathan Vilma is also suspended for the season, while defensive end Will Smith will be out of action for four games.
The Mark Ingram trade from last year sacrificed the Saints' first-round pick this year, but the NFL also took away their second-round draft pick and the Saints didn't pick until the third-round. They did lose Carl Nicks, Tracy Porter and Robert Meachum in free agency, but their additions were fantastic: Ben Grubbs, David Hawthorne, Curtis Lofton and Brodrick Bunkley were a great haul for the Saints, but winning in free agency doesn't always necessarily translate into success in the win column.
This is a very talented football team, but there are just too many changes and a cloud of negativity surrounding this team right now. There is also the very public contract dispute between Drew Brees and the front office. The Saints have been a playoff regular the past few seasons, but I believe this will be the year they take a step backwards. They may be down this year, but I expect this franchise to bounce back in a strong way in 2013.
KD: My vote goes squarely to the Lions. All of those “amazing” comebacks last season? Lightning normally doesn’t strike two years in a row like that. Combine that with Matthew Stafford playing all 16 games for the first time in his career, all the arrests that the team has had in the offseason, the training camp fight, the Jim Schwartz factor (works if things are going well, blows up if things are going bad)… plus I think Chicago passed them this offseason: I think Detroit misses out on the playoffs this season.
Which 2011 playoff teams will not make it back to the playoffs this year?
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