NFL

Four NFC Contenders that Will NOT Win Super Bowl 50

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It’s that magical time of year when every NFL fan base is brimming with optimism. Well, let’s put a stop to that right now.

This is a two-part series in which we examine contenders who will NOT win Super Bowl 50. In Part I, we broke down four AFC contenders certain to fall short. In this second segment, we’re examining four NFC powerhouses destined to disappoint.

All of these contenders posted winning records in 2014.  Despite that success, I can assure you these four teams will not win Super Bowl 50.

Dallas Cowboys

I’ve never considered the Cowboys a legitimate Super Bowl threat with Tony Romo under center. That may seem like a lazy argument, especially given the brilliant numbers he posted last season (3,705 yards, 34 TDs, nine INTs, 113.2 passer rating), but it still holds water. Dallas has missed the playoffs in more than half of his seasons as a starter and has a postseason record of just 2-4 during that stretch.

Luckily, team owner Jerry Jones gave my pessimism even more fuel this offseason by signing woman-beater Greg Hardy, pothead Randy Gregory, drug addict Rolando McClain and yet-to-be-exonerated La’El Collins. As someone who believes in football karma, I see no way this toxic mix can result in anything but an epic implosion.

“High character and great talent don’t always go together,” Jones conceded earlier this offseason.

My lack of faith in the Cowboys has roots in tangible reasons, as well. Specifically, how will the running game fare minus workhorse DeMarco Murray? The running game keyed every bit of Dallas’ success last season; it kept the offense on schedule and the defense off the field. Can those results be duplicated with glass-knees Darren McFadden and underwear thief Joseph Randle splitting carries?

Honestly, the Cowboys are better set up to be a punchline than a contender. And somehow, I’ve brought that point home without even mentioning Dez Bryant.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles were the undisputed winners of the offseason’s headline wars. Unfortunately, they lost several good soldiers along the way, including LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and Trent Cole.

I do not believe for one second that Kelly’s wheeling and dealing was motivated by race. Instead, it was motivated by his massive ego. He believes his system is so superior that he can outwit opponents with Xs and Os alone. As a result, his priority is finding players who fit his system (and culture) more than finding the best available talent.

That worked for Kelly at Oregon, but it won’t in the NFL. He’ll find that out fairly quickly as soon as Tim Tebow starts dropping back to throw Ducks (pun intended) to Riley Cooper and Miles Austin.

There is still plenty to like about the Eagles — they have the league’s best running back rotation and loads of talent on both sides of the line — but this squad has 6-10 written all over it.  Or, to put it into the headline format Eagles fans have become so accustomed to, we can call them the “Chip and Fails.”

Green Bay Packers

The Packers have all the pieces to be a dominant team: an elite quarterback, explosive skill position players and a deep, talented defense. So why has Green Bay gone just 2-4 in postseason play over the last four seasons?

Mike McCarthy certainly deserves the lion’s share of the blame. The way he turtled late in the NFC Championship Game against the Seahawks should have been enough to get him renamed after an artist from the European Renaissance (yup, that’s a Ninja Turtles reference).

McCarthy is not the only problem, though. The back end of the defense is a concern, especially after losing Tramon Williams and Davon House in free agency. The Pack also released A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones.

But perhaps the biggest obstacle standing between the Packers and a return trip to the Super Bowl is the competition inside their division. The Lions are coming off an 11-win season and were just a Week 17 victory away from claiming the NFC North. The Vikings are not far behind, either, riding young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and a defense that is coming together under fiery head coach Mike Zimmer.

The Bears are still trash, which should make Packers fans happy. Nonetheless, Green Bay will be hard pressed to maintain its perch atop the NFC North, yet alone march to Super Bowl 50.

Seattle Seahawks

No team has made three straight Super Bowl appearances since the Bills did it four seasons in a row (1990-1993). Buffalo went 0-for-4 on the grandest stage of them all, which may be the only thing more painful than the way the Seahawks choked away their shot at back-to-back championships.

Seattle’s devastating loss to the Patriots will hang over this year’s team. Not only are players still talking about that game, but they’re still feeling the effects of it. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, leaders of the Legion of Boom, are still recovering from injuries endured during last season’s playoff run.

The healthy players have been affected, too. Seattle’s sustained success has led to cornerstone players like Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett growing vocal in their displeasure with their contracts. The team has already handed out massive extensions to Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Sherman, Thomas and Bobby Wagner, leaving players like Chancellor and Bennett to adopt the manta, “They can’t pay everybody.”

They can’t pay everybody and they can’t beat everybody, either. Seattle’s rise to dominance was fueled by an intense rivalry with San Francisco. And while the Seahawks can confidently say they won the battle with their Bay Area foes, their rivals in Arizona and St. Louis have slowly snuck up on them. The Cardinals and Rams are both playoff contenders with designs on keeping the Seahawks out of the postseason altogether.

It’s still more likely than not that Pete Carroll’s team gets back into the tournament for a fourth consecutive season. But as for getting to a third consecutive Super Bowl? Not gonna happen. The competition is too strong and the reigning conference champs have too many chinks in their armor.

Who do you think will represent the NFC in Super Bowl 50? Join Michael Lombardo for his weekly NFL Chat on Friday at 2pm EST. But you don’t have to wait until then … you can ask your question now!


About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has spent more than 10 years as a team expert at Scout.com, primarily covering the Chargers, Cardinals and Panthers. He has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and other venues.