The Complete 2009 NFC Quarterback Predictions
We are done with the AFC side of the ball and now it's time for the NFC.
The quarterback is a vital part to a teams' success. They are the ones who run the offense. They are a key cog in building a championship team.
If the quarterback performs well, the offense performs well. The same cannot be said for the running game.
Passing the ball has become more and more important throughout the years as teams have turned away from the running game.
We'll take a look at each team and their current quarterback situation, give a quick breakdown, and throw out their 2009 predictions.
ENJOY AND PLEASE COMMENT!
Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo
T.O is finally out of the picture. His dropped balls won't be missed in Big D nor will his mouth.
With T.O gone, Roy Williams will be able to step up and prove that he is capable of handling the majority of the catches. He played well in Detroit without a quarterback and could be a great fantasy pickup in 2009.
Romo has failed miserably over the last couple of season. He hasn't been able to bring the overwhelmingly talented Cowboys team to a deep playoff run. He fumbled a crucial snap three seasons ago and a pick to end the 2007 season.
He'll have to prove to the Dallas Cowboys that he can come through in the clutch. This is not a make or break year by any means, but Dallas is getting impatient.
Romo has put up some great stats over his two and half seasons of starting in Dallas. He's eclipsed 10,000 yards, 81 touchdowns, and 48 interceptions.
While he hasn't been the finisher Dallas envisioned, I'd love to have Romo on my team. He's a great ballplayer and knows where to throw the ball to. He's an accurate quarterback who should do better without T.O complaining about not getting the ball enough.
Dallas has all the tools necessary to win a Super Bowl. Romo needs to finish games off and prove that he can come through in the clutch.
In the very competitive NFC East, Dallas should see nothing lower than a second place finish.
3,850 yards, 29 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 62.0 percent completions
New York Giants: Eli Manning
People tried to compare this guy to his brother Peyton when he first came into the league, but it doesn't always work comparing the best statistical quarterback in the last decade to Eli.
Since refusing to sign with the team that signed him, Manning has seen his fair share of negative media criticism.
I'm here to say that while he deserved some of it for his poor decision making, he didn't deserve all of it.
When you look at his stats since coming into the league, it doesn't appear that he's getting better. He has only one season with a quarterback rating above 77.0 coming in 2008 when he threw for 3,238 yards, 21 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions (86.4 QB rating).
As long as Plaxico Burress was playing, Manning did well.
In his first game without Plaxico last season, Manning had a great game throwing for 267 yards and two touchdowns.
Giants fans didn't think they needed Burress, but they were proven wrong and Plaxico was out for his second stint.
Manning threw for only three touchdowns, three interceptions, and 919 yards in the final five games without Burress.
The Giants drafted Hakeem Nicks out of North Carolina in the first round, but he is no Plaxico Burress.
Manning will need to prove that he can lead a talented Giants team back to the playoffs in a crowed NFC East. I don't think he'll be able to pull them any further than a third place finish in the NFC East.
3307 yards, 22 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 58.9 percent completions
Philadelphia Eagles: Donovan McNabb
The Eagles have a very passionate fan base. They love their players one moment, but can change their mind with a single play.
It's no secret that McNabb was benched for the first time in his career against the Baltimore Ravens last season. What the Eagles didn't expect was the dramatic turnaround it would cause in their star quarterback.
Before being benched, McNabb was having a sub-par season by his standards. He had thrown 14 touchdowns to a 10 interceptions keeping the Eagles in a third place spot with only minimal chance at making the playoffs.
Then the Eagles would have a historic comeback going 4-1 the last five games with McNabb throwing nine touchdowns to only one interception.
McNabb along with Eagles fans have always complained about not having a topnotch receiving threat. So with their first round selection, they traded up to get receiver Jeremy Maclin from Missouri.
The All-American receiver should add to what is an already solid receiving corps that features second-year sensation DeSean Jackson and the heavily underrated Kevin Curtis.
The offensive line took some minor hits with the loss of two Pro Bowl tackles in Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan. They picked up Jason Peters via trade with the Billis, but after an awful season in Buffalo, will he be able to bounce back?
McNabb will again be in the spotlight for the Eagles. If he fails this season, does that mean him and Reid will both be out the door?
They should both be just fine. McNabb is a great quarterback and should lead his team back to the playoffs with a first place finish in the NFC East.
3,568 yards, 22 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 59.9 percent completions
Washington Redskins: Jason Campbell
It was rumored that the Redskins were in the mix to acquire a quarterback in some way this offseason.
That didn't sit well with Campbell.
After two and a half seasons in which he has thrown only 35 touchdowns and 7,242 yards, the Redskins wanted a change of scenery at the quarterback position.
Well, they are now stuck with a perturbed quarterback who has something to prove.
Campbell is a very conservative quarterback who relies on short five-yard slants to make his way downfield. He doesn't like to throw the deep ball even with speedster Santana Moss lined up on the outside.
In order for him to keep his job in 2010, he'll need to prove that he can throw the ball deep and keep the safeties off the line of scrimmage and keep Clinton Portis fresh.
The Redskins were flying through the first eight games of the season going 7-2. They would finish the season only 2-5 largely to the inability of Campbell to put the ball in the end zone.
Campbell finished the last half of the season throwing only five touchdowns to six interceptions keeping the Redskins out of a playoffs yet again.
I don't see this being the year of Campbell either. The NFC East is too good and they might find themselves in the bottom yet again.
3,098 yards, 15 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 62.8 percent completions
Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler
He was part of the biggest trade in Bears history, but will he live up to all the hype?
The Bears have their first franchise quarterback since...well...ever.
Cutler gets to start for his favorite childhood team. The problem lies in the receiving corps.
Cutler has no legit receivers to throw to and an offensive line that is average at best. He leaves behind Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, and one of the best pass-blocking offensive lines in the league for Devin Harris and who?
While the Bears have improved their line, aging veterans may not get the job done for them.
Cutler threw for over 4,500 yards last season, but also threw 18 interceptions. A career losing record in three seasons is eye-gouging, but a lot of that was caused by a terrible Broncos defense.
The only good news for Cutler is that he gets to play against an 0-16 team a year ago.
Though the Bears addressed a key part to their offense, I still see them finishing second in the NFC North.
3,447 yards, 23 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 63.7 percent completions
Detriot Lions: Daunte Culpepper/Matthew Stafford
Here's the first position battle we'll face in the NFC and one of several in the NFL.
Matthew Stafford has performed very well in OTA's while Daunte Culpepper has been great himself. Culpepper has also dropped a lot of weight and appears to be in great shape.
So who will start for the first 0-16 in NFL history?
Even though the Lions made Stafford the highest paid rookie in NFL history, I'm going to say it's Culpepper first and if he fails, Stafford will be right there.
As a Vikings fan, I'm well aware of what Culpepper is capable of. He has on of the biggest arms in the NFL, but his decision making and accuracy has been an issue.
As long as he has a deep threat receiver to help him, he has been successful. He definitely has that in Calvin Johnson who had a breakout season in 2008.
Culpepper may not be the quarterback he once was, but he is serviceable. Give him time to make a throw and Calvin Johnson has already beaten the defense and a 65 yard lob is on its way to one of the best receivers in the NFL.
The team has had a huge makeover and appears ready to start over. The team drafted Brandon Pettigrew which should add a blocking power for Culpepper as well as a reliable set of hands on shorter routes.
I don't see how the Lions can finish any higher in the NFC North than they did last season. Yet another last place finish for the dismal Lions.
3,487 yards, 21 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 60.9 percent completions
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers
It's tough to replace an NFL legend, right?
Well, Aaron Rodgers says that it tough, but doable.
Rodgers had a great season for the Packers, but could never seem to close out the game.
The Packers had a four game stretch where they lost four games by four points or less. If they want to improve on their 6-10 record, they need to have better fourth quarter production from Rodgers.
Rodgers ended his first full season as a starter with 4,038 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions all while completing a solid 63.8 percent of his throws.
I'd say that's pretty solid replacing the NFL record holder for career passing yards and touchdowns.
Rodgers still has the very underrated Greg Jennings to throw to as well as the sure-handed Donald Driver and will look to improve on a solid 2008 performance.
The NFC North features some weak defenses and Rodgers should take advantage of them, but a second consecutive third place finish in the NFC North is likely.
4,134 yards, 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 65.2 percent completions
Minnesota Vikings: Brett Favre
Don't kid yourself. It's only a matter of time before he arrives in Minnesota.
The thing that has killed people the most with the Favre drama is all the stories that report nothing or false reports in general.
Favre has indeed had surgery and is more than willing at coming back to the NFL, only with the Vikings though. So we'll go on and pretend all that is over with and we can just move on.
Favre has had several set backs in his career, but none more documented than his collapse at the end of last season. But was it really his fault?
It's true that he made some bad throws and the torn tendon was a big part in that, but when your receivers lead the league in dropped passes in the final four weeks of the regular season, it's tough to keep the offense on the field.
The Vikings have lacked an ideal quarterback since Culpepper left the team in 2006.
Favre brings Hall of Fame credentials to a very talented Vikings offense that features the best running back in the NFL and a solid group of wide receivers.
His 22 touchdowns in 2008 were wiped away by his 22 interceptions, but that's the story of Favre's entire career. He is a high-risk, high-reward player.
Anything is better than what the Vikings have had to put up with for the last four seasons.
With Favre, the Vikings could very easily win the NFC North.
3,298 yards, 26 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 62.1 percent completions
Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan
The 2008 rookie sensation brought excitement back to the fans of Atlanta when his first pass in the NFL was a long 62 yard touchdown.
Ryan had a great rookie season with Atlanta finishing with 3,440 yards, 16 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and completing 61.1 percent of his passes.
Ryan's Falcons pulled an improbable run to the playoffs only to be ousted in the first round by the eventual Super Bowl runner-up Arizona Cardinals.
His second season will be much different.
Ryan should have a better feel for the NFL and has a stronger supporting cast than he did last season.
The addition of Tony Gonzalez was huge. Atlanta tight ends finished with only two touchdowns the entire season, both by Justin Peelle. Gonzalez finished with 10 on his own.
I'm don't really believe in the "sophomore slump" and I'm not about to start now.
With an even better cast around him and another year of experience, Ryan should be able to improve his numbers, but may only lead his team to a third place finish in the NFC South.
3,794 yards, 26 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 63.2 percent completions
Carolina Panters: Jake Delhomme
In my opinion, he's the worst starting quarterback in the NFL who doesn't have to worry about losing his job in 2009. The Panthers gave a five-year, $42.5 million extension to a 34 year-old quarterback who has never had a quarterback rating of over 89.
I'm not a big Delhomme fan and believe the Panthers could become Super Bowl contenders if they replaced him. As long as he's starting, the Panthers probably won't make it back to the big game.
Delhomme's 2009 NFC Divisional Game against the Cardinals was one to forget. He threw five interceptions as the Panthers were destroyed by the Cardinals.
Delhomme has the fastest receiver in the NFL to throw to and a top three backfield behind him. He should at least be able to manage an 18 touchdown season, right?
Delhomme has also had some trouble with injuries the past couple years.
He's not a very accurate quarterback and is very immobile. He relies on an underrated offensive line to protect him.
Delhomme was very inconsistent in 2008 and will need to turn it around in 2009.
He should still do well enough to propel the Panthers to a first place finish in the NFC South.
3,021 yards, 17 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 58.4 percent completions
New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees
He had a historic season in 2008 when he was a failed pass attempt away from breaking Dan Marino's single season passing record.
In the final play of the Saints' regular season, Brees threw a bomb to the center of the field instead of throwing it to a wide open Saints' player 15 away. The play would have broken the record.
Brees has done everything he possibly can to win games for the Saints, but he's not getting much help from his defensive teammates or his backfield.
Last season, Brees threw for 34 touchdowns and 5,069 yards. It's unlikely he'll come close to those yards ever again, but stranger things have happened in the NFL.
What's even more impressive is he did it with his favorite target Marques Colston missing time as well as Jeremy Shockey.
Brees is a very accurate quarterback, but makes some terrible decisions sometimes. He throws quite a bit of interceptions which cost them a couple games last season. He threw ten interceptions last season in his own territory.
The Saints have been a big disappoint the last couple years. I still don't see them breaking out of that slump. They could finish third this season.
4,477 yards, 29 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 64.8 percent completions.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Byron Leftwich/Luck McCown/Josh Freeman
This is really the only three-way quarterback battle in the NFL and could turn out to be one of the more exciting ones.
Letfwich was a solid starter for the Jaguars a couple years back and was a great backup to Ben Roethlisberger last season. He's not an accurate passer, but he's efficient. I think he's the top candidate to win the job.
Not much is known about McCown, but when he has played, he has performed well. He has a problem holding onto the ball causing a ton of sacks. In seven career starts, he's been sacked a whopping 27 times.
Freeman is probably the least likely candidate to start. The Bucs want to take things slow for their first round pick in 2008. He has a huge arm, but his accuracy and mobility are in question. He would likely be the starter if either McCown or Leftwich plays poorly.
The Bucs have a good group of receivers with breakout candidate Antonio Bryant and newcomer Kellen Winslow leading the way.
I'm going to say Leftwich gets the job out of the preseason and holds onto it for about half the season before they let rookie Josh Freeman loose.
I don't think it really matter who starts for the Bucs in 2009. They may still end up in last place in the NFC South.
3,042 yards, 16 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 58.8 percent completions
Arizona Cardinals: Kurt Warner
The ageless wonder had another great season throwing for 4,600 yard,s 30 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions.
Had it not been for a late season collapse by the Cardinals defense, Kurt Warner could have easily walked away with the NFL MVP in favor of the slightly undeserving Peyton Manning, but that's for another article.
Kurt proved that he still has the arm to make all the throws and despite being surrounded by the best receiving corps in the NFL, he did not have a running game to support him.
It didn't seem to matter though as Kurt Warner led the Arizona Cardinals to a division championship and improbable run to the Super Bowl only to lose the game in a heart breaker.
If he remains healthy next season, which is Warner's biggest vice, he should easily eclipse the 30,000 yards mark as well as throwing his 200 touchdown pass.
In order for Warner to take the Cardinals back to a playoff run, they are going to need Warner to step up his game in the two minute offense, a place place Warner struggled last season. He was interception prone throwing four throughout the season.
His final play last season is a prime example of not finishing games as he fumbled the ball on a crucial play late in the game.
With the lack of talent in the NFC West, the Cardinals should be able to pull off another first place finish.
4,265 yards, 31 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 65.1 percent completions
St. Louis Rams: Marc Bulger
Unlike his NFC West counterpart, Bulger's age seems to be showing. Though he's six years younger, he's played like he's five years older than Warner.
His extreme lack of production over the last two seasons have dropped the Rams off the charts and into the bottom three teams in the NFL.
To make matters worse, he's lost his best target Torry Holt.
Over his last two seasons, 28 interceptions to only 22 touchdowns. Like Warner though, he too is injury prone having only played one full season in eight years.
Much of his drop off in production can be placed on the offensive line which has been terrible at pass-blocking since Bulger's first start. In 87 starts, Bulger has been sacked 240 times, an average of almost 2.8 per game.
Although Bulger is very immobile, The addition of Jason Smith should help the offensive line where it struggled the worst last season.
If Bulger has another down year, it will likely be his last in St. Louis. The fans are impatient and believe that with a good quarterback, they can be contenders once again.
It will likely be another year in the NFC West cellar for the Rams as they may look for another top five pick in 2009.
2,720 yards, 13 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 56.2 percent completions
San Francisco 49ers: Shaun Hill/Alex Smith
In my opinion, there really shouldn't be a battle.
Shaun Hill has proven he can win games and Alex Smith hasn't.
That's what Mike Singletary wants most and I think that's what's ultimately going to push Shaun Hill over the edge and win the starting job over Alex Smith.
Smith should be lucky he even has a team to play on let alone compete for a backup job.
Since coming into the league much too early, Smith has been a huge disappointment for the 49ers who had high hopes for the first overall selection in 2005.
Though Shaun Hill likes to hold onto the ball longer than the average quarterback, he generally makes good decisions and is a very accurate quarterback. He doesn't have the strong arm Singletary would like, but he wins games and that's what matters in this situation.
Smith on the other hand has a strong arm, but is very inaccurate and his inability to move the ball is a huge problem.
Plus, Smith is coming off of a season ending injury in 2008 and hasn't taken a snap since November 12 of 2007. It's unlikely that that will change this season.
Whoever the quarterback is at the start of the regular season inherits a fun new toy this season in Michael Crabtree, the explosive receiver out of Texas Tech has the sure hands to make all the catches. It all depends on how he is utilized in the offense though. It's either BOOM or BUST for Crabtree.
One of these quarterbacks actually could surprise people, but I can't see anything higher than a third place finish in the NFC West.
3,409 yards, 21 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 62.1 percent completions
Seattle Seahawks: Matt Hasselbeck
Hasselbeck's career is one for the injury books. He'll again be forced to come back under pressure and perform well after some devastating injuries.
Hasselbeck is such an inconsistent quarterback, it's hard to predict how he is really going to perform. He can either throw 30 touchdowns in a season or blow up and throw 20 interceptions (I know he hasn't hit either mark). That's how extreme this guy is.
He doesn't have a great backfield behind, a great offensive line protecting him, or a great receiving corps to throw to. There aren't any stars on the offense, just a bunch of average players.
One the plus side, there aren't any busts. Everybody can play at a high level, you just don't know who until game day. The Seahawks can be a good surprise for any team if you're not prepared.
While 2008 was a disappointment, they were bombarded with injuries all over the place. That's something that probably won't happen in 2009.
As far as Hasselbeck goes, the guy is either accurate, or not. He's hot, or cold. He's fantastic, or horrible. You just never know with him.
He could very well get injured after the first hit next season, who knows.
The NFC West is a notoriously weak division record wise, but they can throw surprises at you. I don't think they'll be able to regain their glory Super Bowl days of a several years ago, but they should manage a second place finish.
3,342 yards, 23 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 60.2 percent completions