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2017 NFL midseason predictions: Seahawks/Rams in NFC West?

At the midpoint of the 2017 NFL season, our analysts refresh their predictions on the major individual awards and forecast the entire playoff field. Check back Friday for Championship Sunday/Super Bowl LI outcomes.

Click here to glance back at our analysts’ preseason predictions.

NFC EAST

Judy Battista: Philadelphia Eagles. The rapid improvement of Carson Wentz has the Eagles poised to dominate this division.

Jeffri Chadiha: Eagles. Life will be tougher without left tackle Jason Peters, but the Eagles look legit.

Gil Brandt: Eagles. Losing Jason Peters hurts, but Philly has a hot quarterback (Carson Wentz) and a 2.5-game lead in the division. The front seven is very good, with secondary help (Ronald Darby, nearing a return to health) on the way.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Eagles. The Eagles are in the driver’s seat and won’t give it up.

Steve Wyche: Eagles. Loved them in preseason and I love them more now. Countless NFL execs are drooling over Carson Wentz — except in Cleveland.

Ike Taylor: Eagles. Playing like a veteran, Carson Wentz deserves a snowy home game in January.

Charley Casserly: Eagles. Wentz is for real and the defense keeps improving.

Heath Evans: Eagles. My initial pick (Giants) didn’t pan out so well in the first half. The Eagles will keep hold on to their division lead.

Adam Schein: Eagles. They were my preseason pick, and behind Carson Wentz, nothing is changing.

Reggie Wayne: Eagles. The Eagles are overachieving while the other three teams are underachieving.

Alex Gelhar: Eagles. Carson Wentz‘ stellar play and a dominant front seven carry the Eagles to a postseason bye.

Adam Rank: Eagles. Carson Wentz is the real deal. And any time I see Mike Trout out there in the end zone rooting the team on, I believe the Eagles can do anything. And getting Jay Ajayi makes them even stronger.

NFC NORTH

Judy Battista: Minnesota Vikings. Aaron Rodgers‘ injury opened the door wide here, and the Vikings‘ defense is enough to push them to the top.

Jeffri Chadiha: Vikings. With Aaron Rodgers sidelined in Green Bay, the Vikings are in prime position to capitalize..

Gil Brandt: Vikings. Despite plenty of questions on offense, the Vikings have the NFL’s third-ranked defense, as well as an excellent pass rush.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Vikings. Case Keenum‘s doing a good job in place of Sam Bradford, and the defense is scary good.

Steve Wyche: Vikings. Yep. With Aaron Rodgers out, the Lions inconsistent and Bears developing, Minny’s defense takes it to the top.

Ike Taylor: Vikings. Mike Zimmer’s defense leads the Vikings to the top.

Charley Casserly: Vikings. The best defense in the division will win it for Minnesota despite questions at QB.

Heath Evans: Vikings. I love Zimmer and what he does with the defense. If Sam Bradford comes back, this team could go deep in the playoffs.

Adam Schein: Vikings. Best D in the division. Sad for football fans that Aaron Rodgers got hurt.

Reggie Wayne: Vikings. With Rodgers out, Minnesota wins this one by default.

Alex Gelhar: Vikings. Teddy Bridgewater returns and does enough to steal this division away from the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers.

Adam Rank: Vikings. Minnesota had a great shot at this division, even before Aaron Rodgers was injured. The Vikings‘ defense has been great for a while and I still believe Case Keenum can guide them far.

NFC SOUTH

Judy Battista: New Orleans Saints. Finally, a defense to complement Drew Brees.

Jeffri Chadiha: Saints. The Saints have learned a valuable lesson lately: They’re a lot better when they run the ball more and play a little defense.

Gil Brandt: Saints. Unlike in previous years, the Saints can pass and run, and they boast the second-best offense in the NFL. With five home games and five divisional games left on their schedule, they can dictate their own fate.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Saints. I didn’t see this coming, but the Saints are playing much better than the rest at the midway point. It’s going to be a close race.

Steve Wyche: Saints. The offense will score and the defense is playing better than good enough.

Ike Taylor: Saints. Drew Brees (a.k.a. Mr. 5,000) outscores everyone.

Charley Casserly: Saints. They finally have a defense to go with the potent offense.

Heath Evans: Saints. Sean Payton and Drew Brees have been here before, and the Saints might be the most consistent team in the division.

Adam Schein: Saints. Surprise! The saints are playing defense and running the ball. And Drew Brees is an MVP dark horse.

Reggie Wayne: Saints. I saw this division playing out differently, but the Saints have surprised. They could be a threat if they keep improving.

Alex Gelhar: Saints. Drew Brees takes a back seat as the running game and surprisingly frisky defense help him secure a division title.

Adam Rank: Saints. Drew Brees might not be vintage Drew Brees, but Mark Ingram has been great (save two fumbles against the Bears) and now they have a legit defense backing them up again. And remember, the last two NFC representatives in the Super Bowl were from the South. #trendz

NFC WEST

Judy Battista: Los Angeles Rams. Playmakers on both sides of the ball and a compelling, young coach make the Rams a potential force for years to come.

Jeffri Chadiha: Seattle Seahawks. They’re a second-half team. They’ll be that again.

Gil Brandt: Seahawks. The ‘Hawks lack a reliable running game, but they have an outstanding quarterback (Russell Wilson) and a plus defense. And they traded for Duane Brown to shore up the offensive line. Seattle has four home games left, including one against the Chargers in Week 15.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Rams. I like what I’m seeing. This team is coming together at the right time.

Steve Wyche: Seahawks. They hit their stride a little early, although the lack of a running game is still a potential pitfall.

Ike Taylor: Seahawks. I don’t think the Rams can hold the division lead. ‘Hawks win fourth title in five years.

Charley Casserly: Seahawks. Their first win over the Rams will loom large in December.

Heath Evans: Seahawks. After a slow start, the Seahawks always turn it on down the stretch.

Adam Schein: Rams. This is the Sean McVay impact!

Reggie Wayne: Seahawks. The Rams don’t have enough experience to hold their lead.

Alex Gelhar: Seahawks. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks heat up late in the season, as usual, to outpace the Rams thanks to their win in L.A.

Adam Rank: Rams. This one is going to be close. Obviously, I’m a huge believer in McVay and Goff. But Wade Phillips has that defense coming around and they can limit some of those high-powered offenses in the NFC.

NFC WILD CARD 1

Judy Battista: Seattle Seahawks. That defense makes them dangerous once they get in.

Jeffri Chadiha: Los Angeles Rams. Sean McVay would be Coach of the Year if it weren’t for Doug Pederson.

Gil Brandt: Rams. They have a tough schedule, but very good players on defense. Excellent coaching will make the difference in the end.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Atlanta Falcons. This team will get back to the playoffs. Then anything can happen.

Steve Wyche: Rams. With solid offensive and defensive lines and playmakers at nearly every skill spot, this could be a dangerous team in postseason.

Ike Taylor: Detroit Lions. They’ve stumbled, but get back on track in November and December.

Charley Casserly: Rams. They have a playoff offense and an improving defense.

Heath Evans: Rams. They fall off a bit, handing the division to Seattle, but they are still good enough to secure a wild-card spot.

Adam Schein: Seahawks. Love the Duane Brown deal. Love Russ. And wouldn’t be surprised if they won division.

Reggie Wayne: Dallas Cowboys. Even with Zeke out (at least for the moment), Dak Prescott can keep them afloat.

Alex Gelhar: Rams. Sean McVay’s first season in Los Angeles is a massive success, as the Rams secure the top wild-card spot.

Adam Rank: Seahawks. They still can’t run the ball, which is going to be very important down the stretch. And hopefully that defensive performance against the Texans was a one-game blip.

NFC WILD CARD 2

Judy Battista: Carolina Panthers. Three of their final four games are at home and that catapults them into the final playoff spot.

Jeffri Chadiha: Dallas Cowboys. They’ll have to prove themselves while facing a tough second-half schedule.

Gil Brandt: Cowboys. Quarterback Dak Prescott is playing well, and he’ll help push Dallas forward, no matter what happens with Ezekiel Elliott. The defense, especially the pass rush, has improved a lot.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Seattle Seahawks. They aren’t as good as they’ve been with this core group, but still good enough to represent the NFC in the postseason.

Steve Wyche: Atlanta Falcons. They struggled early, but there is too much talent to totally face-plant.

Ike Taylor: Falcons. If the Falcons don’t make the playoffs, a lot of fingers will be pointing at Steve Sarkisian.

Charley Casserly: Falcons. Atlanta’s balance of offense and defense helps them edge out Carolina for the last wild-card spot.

Heath Evans: Falcons. It’s hard to imagine the postseason without last year’s Super Bowl runner-up.

Adam Schein: Falcons. I’m so disappointed in the hung over Falcons, but not ready to completely give up. This team is still loaded.

Reggie Wayne: Falcons. There are so many players on this roster who can take over a game — Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Vic Beasley, etc. I need to see them in January.

Alex Gelhar: Cowboys. Dak Prescott plays out of his mind and the pass rush stays fierce enough for the Cowboys to edge the rest of the pack.

Adam Rank: Cowboys. Dak Prescott has shown me that he can weather any sort of storm throw in front of this team. Though they do kind of hang on…


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