NFL Top 3: NFC teams surpassing preseason win totals
Most of the focus in the NFC has been on the car wreck that is the East - but several teams have had stronger-than-expected seasons and are close to surpassing their preseason win projections with nearly two months left in the campaign.
Here are three NFC teams on the verge of matching or exceeding their predicted victory totals (odds courtesy LVH):
Carolina Panthers (6-3; O/U: 6.5)
The Panthers have been a hard team to read since Cam Newton took over as quarterback; some days they have looked like Super Bowl contenders, and other days they've more closely resembled a league bottom-feeder. But Newton has been mostly sensational in his third pro season, making good decisions and mixing in just enough of a running game to keep defenses honest. His efforts have been matched by a defense that is among the NFL elite. There aren't many cupcakes on Carolina's remaining schedule, but the defense will be good enough to keep the team in most games.
Arizona Cardinals (5-4; O/U: 5.5)
Arizona's record may be a bit of a mirage - three of the Cardinals' wins have come by four points or fewer, and they've lost three games by double digits - but a winning mark is a winning mark. Carson Palmer has done just enough in the passing game, while the defense has overcome deficiencies in pass coverage by limiting opponents to the third-fewest rushing yards per game in the NFL. The Cardinals have enough winnable games remaining - Jacksonville, Philadelphia and Tennessee among them - to reach their win total with ease.
Seattle Seahawks (9-1; O/U: 10.5)
Anyone who thought the Seahawks' total may have been a bit high have since been humbled. CenturyLink Field remains the best home-field advantage in North American pro sports - Seattle has won its four home games by a combined 64 points - and with four of its last six at home, only a stunning collapse will keep Seattle from winning the NFC West. The biggest challenge remaining: a Week 14 showdown in San Francisco that represents the 49ers best chance to remain in the hunt for the division title.