Tuesday, September 04, 2007

NFC Preview, Part II

NFC North

Chicago Bears 11-5, first place
I'm really not in love with Chicago - their defense had a lot of trouble stopping the run last season, and the QB is Rex Grossman...but still this team is full of talent. Lots of playmakers on defense and speed on offense. It's the perfect combination to own a very weak division.

Green Bay Packers 9-7, second place
For the first (and last) time in Favre's career, the offense of the Packers is going to hold back the team. The young defense continues to improve, and could sneak into the bottom of the Top 10 this season. Nickel defense could be a concern, but the pass rush should be good enough to prevent that weakness from being exposed consistently. But where are the playmakers on offense? Driver is aging, Jennings and Jackson are raw, and there's no downfield threat at TE. Unless Favre is willing to show uncharacteristic patience, his turnovers will work against the strong defense.

Minnesota Vikings 6-10, third place
No pash rush, no QB, no WRs. The Vikings can stay competitive by pounding the rock and playing ok defense, but they'll have a tough time putting together a 2:00 drive to win the game, or stopping the opponents on their own 2:00 drives.

Detroit Lions 5-11, fourth place
This is your record when you score 25 points a game and give up 30.

NFC South

Carolina Panthers 12-4, first place
Everyone's Super Bowl pick last year, Carolina is flying under the radar this season as football experts try to avoid being burned again. But they still have the same team speed, strength on both lines, and streaky QB that made them a favorite last season. If they can avoid the injury bug and Delhomme can avoid huge mistakes, they have the potential to be dominating.

New Orleans Saints 11-5, second place
In spite of the amazing swell of Saints hype, they remain a team that is weak at LB, DT, and CB. This is a Top 2 offense, though, led by one of the best QBs in the league and one of the most explosive players in Reggie Bush. Even when the defense has an off game, they can score 40 points and win anyway.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-10, third place
This is a team that should be rebuilding, but instead signed a 37-year-old QB to throw to their 34-year-old WR. The defense is a shadow of its once-dominating self and might get pushed around a bit this year. The OL is improved with the addition of Luke Petitgout, so I expect a much better running game, but I just don't see enough explosiveness on offense.

Atlanta Falcons 2-14, fourth place
They were going to be bad with Mike Vick. Now they've got Joey Harrington at QB instead. Bobby Petrino will get them to play harder than Jim Mora, but he's got a couple of years of rebuilding ahead of him, before this roster has enough talent to win.

NFC West

St. Louis Rams 10-6, first place
The OL will play better, and the defense has improved just enough to allow the offense to win games for them. The Rams are my surprise team of 08, and could be even better than 10-6, but this is going to be a brutal division.

Seattle Seahawks 10-6, second place
Seattle hasn't played well inside the division over the last couple of seasons, so they lose the tiebreaker to the Rams.

Arizona Cardinals 8-8, third place
This team finally has the right coach in place, and a decent OL. They are on the right track, but are still a year away from a serious playoff push.

San Francisco 49ers 6-10, fourth place
Another team that is a year away. Alex Smith showed improvement last year, but the passing offense was still ranked 27th in the league. He needs more weapons around him and more time to develop. The defense added some name players, but the Redskins have shown that big-name free agents don't always translate into wins, at least not immediately. Again, I like Mike Nolan, and I think they're headed in the right direction, but still a year away.

1st - Panthers
2nd - Eagles
3rd - Bears
4th - Rams
5th - Saints
6th - Seahawks


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