Okay... I'd been putting this off due to class finals and post-final binge drinking, but I realized I only have a couple weeks til the season starts so I'd better get hot on it. Anyway, I wrote a review a few weeks ago about the AFC so now it's time for the NFC. Admittedly, I think the NFC holds less surprises this year than the AFC does, but I think the NFC contains a few good ones. So let's get started!
Disappointments: Green Bay, Detroit
Detroit... a disappointment? You've gotta be kidding me, right? What are they gonna get -3 wins this year and somehow end up -3-16? No, but as it stands they're really risking repeating as an 0-16 team. The Lions under Matt Millen were absolutely atrocious, with the sole shining light of Calvin Johnson to redeem themselves. Their team as a whole is just bad. Similar to the Dolphins of two years ago, the franchise has just been ruined. So Lions, take a lesson from Tuna on this one - scrap EVERYONE and start over. That's what works! That's the only way to really turn a bad franchise around, erase all your depth charts and boards in the coaching room and START OVER.
So going out and drafting a QB like he's going to fix your team is definitely out of the question.
... idiots. Matthew Stafford has a lot of skill, I'm not denying that. He even has potential to be one of the great QBs for the next decade, barring some bizarre Ryan-Leaf-esque freakout... but he's unproven. At BEST, he's an amazing quarterback and they become like the Saints, Colts, or Broncos (with Cutler).
Notice anything about those franchises? Yeah, they've got great QBs but the rest of the team will lose their games for that great QB. Now for god's sake trade Calvin Johnson for a couple of high draft picks and start rebuilding your house rather than tossing posters over the holes in the walls.
Alright, Green Bay fans... I'm going to break your heart here. Your team has The Yips. They've got it all - good QB, good RB, good defense, good d-line and o-line... so what the hell are they waiting for? GET OVER BRETT FAVRE. He wasn't some magical wizard who carried the team, he's just a guy!
They honestly should have made the playoffs last year. Hell, they could easily have made a deep run with the talent they have... but they lack the confidence to do anything. I don't know if it's Mike McCarthy's fault or what, but get over Brett Favre. I know he broke your heart but there are other fish in the sea.
Sadly, now they're going to have to face Brett Favre (twice!) this year. And no broken-heart can be confident around their ex. Sorry guys, if they need a tub of ice cream and want to go cry in a dark room, go ahead... but it's not going to help. Stop pitying yourself and whining like a bunch of little brats and GET ANGRY. Then they'll win some games, maybe even give the Pack-O another Superbowl trophy.
Ahhh Chicago. Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Bears. They want it. They have a complete team and one of the scarier defenses in the NFL. Sure the wedge change will throw a kink in their spectacular special teams play, but they're good enough I'm sure they'll find something even better. And now they have Jay Cutler and Matt Forte; If their offense can be half as scary as their defense and special teams, they will win this division. Hell, maybe even more... one thing I've definitely gotta give to the Bears, Lovie Smith, and the city of Chicago - when you guys get rollin you're unstoppable.
The bad news is that they start out the season AT Green Bay, then at home against the steelers, then AT Seattle (note: Seattle's a surprise, I'll get to that later). Get a good start and they could easily shock the world at 12-4 going into the postseason. Get a bad start and it'll be tough to recover... but between weeks 4 and 10 they face the Lions, Bengals, Browns, and 49ers, so maybe it won't be so tough. And if they manage 3-0, they'll coast to at least 8-2, possibly 10-0.
Disappointments: Dallas, New York
Okay Washington first here: get over Jason Campbell. He lacks the talent and the brains to get it done. Jim Zorn has had a year with Colt Brennan and now has Chase Daniel. I don't know why people aren't talking more about this, but one of the best QB coaches who has two of the young QBs with the most raw talent is a big deal. They'll enjoy their stealth position, because they can come out of the gate (like they did last year) surprising everyone with their offensive potency. And if they get over Campbell, he won't be there to Jenga the team's disintegration.
Dallas. Ha. Hahahahaha. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA. WHAT THE HELL, MAN? Why are you so bad? Wade Phillips has never won a postseason game IN HIS ENTIRE CAREER. Jerry Jones... I'm exasperated trying to figure out why exactly these men are in charge. They shelled out bigtime for a team that should be great but can never break past decent. Their problems have nothing to do with the team but with the coach and owner. Good luck getting to .500.
I love the Giants, but their 2007 season was a fluke. Now that Plaxico went all leg-shooty-jail-timey they're going to have to rely on... um... Steve Smith? Not even the *good* Steve Smith? Maybe Hakeem Nicks can be their surprise, but let's face it: the Giants are a mediocre team that had one great season. They're still mediocre.
Disappointments: Tampa Bay, Carolina, Atlanta, and New Orleans
Tampa Bay will SORELY miss Chuc- err, John Gruden. Carolina will follow suit with Tennessee - HAI GUYZ LOOK AT OUR RUNNINGBACKS! Neither of these teams addressed their real issues... which interestingly enough is quarterback for both teams. Tampa Bay just added an extra layer of stupid by firing one of the better and under-respected head coaches in the NFL.
New Orleans is an amazing offensive team, really. Even when Reggie Bush was hurt they were still producing, and when healthy Bush could be a very scary slot receiver type guy. Offense hasn't been their problem. For a team that gave up almost 25 points per game last year... what have they changed? This isn't a team that just needed to reload, heal up, and go at it next year like the Chargers or Seahawks... they needed to make moves, and they didn't.
Michael Turner will bust this year. When I say "bust" I don't mean he'll be the worst runningback in the league. He'll probably still be top 10, but he's aging (granted he's only 27, but still), and he's not a surprise anymore. People were surprised in 2008, but they won't be in 2009. Teams will be ready to stop their running game, and the Falcons will rely on Matt Ryan. If you wanna see how that turns out, please go ahead and watch a replay of last season's Wild Card game where Atlanta played Arizona.
That being said, Atlanta will probably win the division, but they won't go beyond the Wild Card game.
Disappointments: Arizona, San Fransisco
Kurt Warner is great, really. So's Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, and Steve Breaston. Their extremely potent pass offense last season was still a fluke. Arizona will be good, they could easily make the playoffs either by winning the division (which I doubt) or getting a Wild Card spot (which is what I'd predict). Just don't expect such an unbalanced passing attack and skewed stats this year, and as everyone's expecting them to be some aerial demigods, they will disappoint.
San Fransisco will disappoint because people are tired of putting up with their crap. Alex Smith, Shaun Hill, JT O'Sullivan... for god's sake guys, get a freakin QB! They have Frank Gore who's one of the best younger runningbacks, but he is their offense. People are tired of the pants dropping, the Vernon Davis being ordered to go to the locker room, what-quarterback-is-starting-this-week shenanigans. Knock it off. Fans keep getting hope that maybe this is the year it'll end, and they'll be disappointed yet again.
Alright, now I'm sure everyone will write this off to me being a homer, but I give about a 90% chance of the Seahawks winning the NFC West this year. With the lack of parity in the NFC, about a 75% chance they'll make it to the NFC championship. A three-way dice roll between Seattle, Philadelphia, and Minnesota to see who goes to the Superbowl.
But the Seahawks were 4-12 last year! Are you crazy? What changed?
Well Hasselbeck isn't hurt. Half their receiving corps isn't on IR. The ENTIRE starting offensive line has been balanced out and now isn't on IR (I know Walter Jones is having surgery and now Chris Spencer has a muscle tear- now the Seahawks have Max Unger and Steve Vallos to take over). Last year, the Seahawks had injury problems like no team in the NFL has *EVER* had to face. And they still won four games and lost 5 games by less than a touchdown.
And what's more, Mike Holmgren is gone and replaced by Jim Mora. I've got a lot of respect for Holmgren, but he should never have been a head coach. He's too passive, plays everything safe, and just can't pull the trigger. Jim Mora has brought energy, confidence, and dare I say swagger back to Seattle. Then the Seahawks went out and picked up Houshmandzadeh to bring a massive strength to their receiving corps, Ken Lucas to strengthen their secondary (which was their biggest defensive weakness), and drafted Aaron Curry to fill the gap at linebacker left when they traded Julian Peterson. To top that off, Deon Butler and Nick Reed have shown to be diamonds in the rough, playing amazing football in the preseason and proving themselves to be - at the very least - talented rookie backups waiting to be developed.
Seattle's healthy now, they're attacking rather than reacting, and filled every hole they needed to fill. Now in the admittedly weak division because of San Fransisco and St. Louis, and with an easier out-of-conference schedule, look for Seattle to shock the NFC this year.