Ranking the NFC's surprise teams, and also Thanksgiving side dishes

Shutdown Corner

Welcome to the Wednesday War Room, where Yahoo Sports’ football minds kick around the topics of the day. Today, we’re talking NFC Super Bowl contenders and first-rate Thanksgiving side dishes. Enjoy!

Question 1: We’ve got several surprise teams leaping up in the NFC including the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. Which do you think is built for a run at the Super Bowl, and why?

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Blake Schuster
After previously bashing the Saints’ chances, it’s time for me to own up: this is a damn good football team. Possibly the most complete team New Orleans has fielded since the 2010 Super Bowl champion crew. The comeback against the Redskins was a message to the rest of the league to not sleep on the Saints for a single snap. Well, I’m fully awake now. Between Drew Brees and his 2,783 passing yards (fourth-best in the NFL), the Mark Ingram renaissance and a defense giving up less than 20 points per game, New Orleans has all the tools for a deep playoff run in a top-heavy NFC.

Brandon Velaski
Since nobody is probably going to pick the Vikings, I will. Putting my bias aside, this team may not have the superior quarterback play but they have a Super Bowl defense, vastly improved offensive line and the best receiver duo in the NFC. Add in the coaching factor of Mike Zimmer, George Edwards and Pat Shurmur, there’s no reason this team that has no egos couldn’t make a run to the big game in their home stadium. Also don’t underestimate the Teddy Bridgewater factor. If he plays this season, the boost he’ll bring to the team is immeasurable.

Frank Schwab
At this point it feels boring to pick the Eagles, because they’re so obvious. Carson Wentz has played well all season, Alshon Jeffery is heating up, it seems they have 47 running backs who have scored a touchdown this season, and the defense is pretty good too. And I just think about this: If they get the No. 1 seed, the Philadelphia playoff crowds will be insane for any opponent to deal with.

Anthony Sulla-Heffinger
Frank is right, the Eagles are the boring pick, but they’re also the right one. Philadelphia is the most complete team in the NFC. Carson Wentz is an MVP candidate and is expertly leading a balanced offense that can gut opponents both in the air and on the ground. In addition to that, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better defensive front than that of the Eagles, which in turn helps a secondary which has a conference-best 14 interceptions. Also factoring into the equation is the fact that I don’t trust Case Keenum or Jared Goff in the playoffs and, despite his Hall of Fame résumé, I am betting against Drew Brees if he has to play the NFC Championship on the road in Philly come January.

Zach Pereles
I’m going with the Saints here because of their ability to run the ball this year. Mark Ingram’s been a beast running behind one of the best and most athletic lines in all of football, and Alvin Kamara has been a terrific option both in the run game and the pass game. The defense has been drastically improved, and though I don’t trust it as much as I trust the Vikings or Eagles defense, I trust the experienced, rock-solid Drew Brees more than I trust Case Keenum or Carson Wentz come playoff time.

Shalise Manza Young
I have to pick the Eagles because my Eagles-fan husband told me to pick the Eagles, but in this case, he’s not wrong (don’t tell him I said so, though). Carson Wentz could join a short and impressive list of players who won the MVP award in just their second season (Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Kurt Warner is the list currently), the offensive line is still doing a solid job protecting him despite the injury to Jason Peters, their run game is strong, they have a deep group of pass-catchers, and their defense is a top-10 group in several key categories. Sounds like a formula for success to me.

Jay Busbee
The Los Angeles Rams are a revelation for so many reasons: they’re fun to watch, they’re maybe possibly starting to create a hometown fanbase, and they’re pretty much the exact same team whose gears Jeff Fisher ground fruitlessly for years. Sean McVay ought to be deep in the running for Coach of the Year, and the Rams ought to make a deep run into the playoffs. Last week’s whupping at the hands of the Vikings is a matter for concern, yes, but if you enjoy wide-open, everybody-go-long-and-get-open football, the Rams are the team for you.

Carson Wentz and the Eagles are in great shape for the postseason. (AP)
Carson Wentz and the Eagles are in great shape for the postseason. (AP)

Question 2: The Great Thanksgiving Side Dish Draft. Defend your choice. Go. 

Stuffing is the top pick here and if you believe otherwise we can’t be friends. Name one other time of year you instinctively crave stuffing? You don’t. We are all Pavlov’s dogs for this dish as soon the leaves start to change colors. –Schuster

I’ll go mac and cheese because Thanksgiving is just ruined if that’s not on the table. It’s timeless and always harkens back to the good ole days of your childhood. For me it’s more essential than turkey. Yeah I said it. Come at me bro! –Velaski

Does whisky count as a side dish? Asking for a friend. –Schwab

Canned cranberry sauce, served chilled. You can keep your homemade stuff because this is like eating Jell-O with your dinner. Don’t @ me. –Sulla

Sweet potato casserole. How could anyone not like it? It’s the first thing on my plate every Thanksgiving. –Pereles

Glazed ham. We don’t even make turkey in my house on Thanksgiving. Glazed spiral ham is delicious hot, it’s delicious cold a day or two later, it doesn’t get dry and it’s a great match for all of the sides if you’re the type to load up your fork with multiple foods in one bite. –Young

Mashed potatoes fell all the way to me in the final slot? This is a Tom-Brady-in-the-sixth-round oversight on the rest of y’all. Mashed potatoes are the easiest dish in the world to make—peel potatoes, boil ‘em, whip ‘em with a couple scoops of butter—and they bond the entire plate together like a killer bass player. Mashed potatoes rule, fools. –Busbee

That’ll do it for this week. Got a question for a future War Room? Email us right here. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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