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NFC Preseason Wrap Up

Thursday saw Steven Hauschka kick the Seattle Seahawks to a perfect preseason record.

Thursday saw Steven Hauschka kick the Seattle Seahawks to a perfect preseason record.

Mercifully, the NFL preseason schedule came to a close Thursday with all 32 teams completing their required quota of not-quite-meaningless but not-overly-important games. Of course, much of this final day of games was lost to College Football’s kickoff schedule.

For those that were busy watching the shootout between Ole Miss and Vandy, here’s what happened in the NFC on Thursday. Consider this your (nearly) last stop on the road to the football season proper.

NFC East

Preseason_NFC_EastThursday night saw the Washington Redskins (4-0) pick up a 30-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) to finish the preseason with a perfect record. Four wins without the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year is sure to be promising for Mike Shanahan and Co., and with news that Robert Griffin III is cleared to start Week 1, there will be a quiet confidence in D.C. come next Monday.

The rest of the NFC East closed out the preseason on the wrong end of the score line. The Philadelphia Eagles (2-2) lost by a touchdown to the New York Jets (3-1); the Dallas Cowboys (2-3) were unraveled at home by the Houston Texans (3-1); and the New York Giants (1-3) failed to record a second preseason win, losing in Foxboro to a New England Patriots (3-1) side benefitting from a Tim Tebow fourth quarter comeback.

Despite recording six losses between them this preseason, the Cowboys and Giants remain the division favorites, with Washington close behind.

Current NFC East odds: Dallas (2/1), NY Giants (2/1), Washington (5/2), Philadelphia (4/1)

NFC North

Preseason_NFC_NorthHaving already defeated the Jets and Patriots this preseason, the Detroit Lions (3-1) made it a hat trick of wins over the AFC East Thursday with a 35-13 drubbing of the Buffalo Bills (2-2) in western New York. Kellen Moore and Shaun Hill both threw a pair of touchdowns as the Lions built a 35-3 halftime lead. The Lions now finish the preseason top of the NFC North, a boost for a team that propped up the division a year ago.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings (1-3) picked up their first win of the preseason, using a 25-yard Blair Walsh field goal with 1:38 left in the fourth to squeeze by the Tennessee Titans (1-3) 24-23. The Vikings now travel to Detroit in Week 1.

Both the Green Bay Packers (1-3) and Chicago Bears (2-2) closed out the preseason with a loss, coming up short of the Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) and Cleveland Browns (3-1) respectively.

The Packers remain the odds on favorites to take this season’s NFC North crown. The Lions are preferred over the Vikings, despite Minnesota’s playoff appearance last season.

Current NFC North odds: Green Bay (5/7), Chicago (3/1), Detroit (9/2). Minnesota (6/1)

NFC South

Preseason_NFC_SouthLooking to go one step further this season and advance to the Super Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons (0-4) were one of only two teams to finish the preseason without a victory. In a battle of winless teams, the Falcons lost 20-16 at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) Thursday to finalize this hapless record. Head Coach Mike Smith will be crossing his fingers that the preseason really doesn’t count for anything.

The Carolina Panthers (3-1) condemned the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4) to a winless preseason with a 25-10 victory at Bank of America Stadium, a win that was fueled by Ted Ginn Jr.’s five catches which tallied 149 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns.

The Panthers finish at the top of the NFC South preseason standings alongside the New Orleans Saints (3-1), who narrowly missed out on finishing perfect after losing by a field goal to the Miami Dolphins (2-3). Tampa Bay’s loss to Washington saw the team finish one-win ahead of the Falcons.

Despite failing to tally a win this preseason, Atlanta remains the favorite to win the NFC South, although New Orleans is just a hair’s breadth behind.

Current NFC South odds: Atlanta (7/5), New Orleans (17/10), Carolina (4/1), Tampa Bay (5/1)

NFC West

Preseason_NFC_WestAfter defeating the hapless Oakland Raiders (1-3) 22-6, the Seattle Seahawks (4-0) joined Washington as the league’s only unbeaten sides this preseason. Expected to be one of the best teams to watch this season, as well as a contender, the Seahawks will enter Week 1’s game against Carolina confident.

The San Francisco 49ers (3-1) finished the preseason with a third straight win, downing the San Diego Chargers (1-3) 41-6 at Qualcomm Stadium. The Niners limited the Chargers to a pair of Nick Novak field goals, both from 40-plus yards, in a dominant display. Week 1’s best matchup (San Francisco at Green Bay) now lays in wait.

The Arizona Cardinals (3-1) and St. Louis Rams (1-3) made it a perfect Thursday for the NFC West, picking up wins over the Denver Broncos (2-2) and Baltimore Ravens (2-2) respectively. For the Rams, a 24-21 win over the Ravens ensured the team would not join Atlanta and Pittsburgh in the realms of the winless.

Preseason_Wk4Seattle is now joint favorite with San Francisco to emerge with the NFC West crown. It’s likely to take Week 2’s Sunday Night Football showdown to separate the pair going forward. At 20/1, Arizona has the longest odds of any NFC team to win its division.

Current NFC West odds: San Francisco (11/10), Seattle (11/10), St. Louis (5/1), Arizona (20/1)

All odds supplied by Bovada.

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