Thursday, September 13, 2007


Preview 2007/08 NFL season

Here's a quick run down of what we might expect in the 2007/08 NFL season:

NFC North

CHICAO Bears (14-2): Their off-season may look like complacency to most, but subtle additions and subtractions have made this year's squad better than last year's. Safety Adam Archuleta brings experience to a position where youth gave the Bears problems last year and will fit right back into the system he thrived in with Lovie Smith as his defensive coordinator in St. Louis. Darwin Walker, who ranks fifth in the NFL in sacks the last five seasons, will do more than fill in for Tank Johnson, and rookie tight end Greg Olsen gives beleaguered quarterback Rex Grossman another target that can stretch the field. Have faith in Cedric Benson, who was a workhorse for all of his four years at Texas. He can carry the load and has the potential to be better than Thomas Jones as an all-around back.

MINNESOTA Vikings (9-7): You have to like a team that ranked top in the league last year in rushing defense. With a veteran offensive line, they will control the line of scrimmage. What will hurt them the most this year is inexperience at the quarterback position, where Tarvaris Jackson will start in only his second year. Head coach Brad Childress, who was offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles before taking the plunge with the Vikes, thinks he can be as good as Donovan McNaab, and if that means he's on the bench 10 games a season, that's fine with me.

Green Bay Packers (5-11): So the old gunslinger felt like getting his butt kicked for one more season, eh? I can hear the cheers from Halas Hall. The thing is, he could get away with his inconsistent play (a.k.a. oldness) if he had a good running game to brunt the load and move the offense. But they don't. Their run offense is anchored by some guys named Vernand Morency, Noah Herron and rookie Brandon Jackson. Have fun with that, Packers fans. Their defense will be average at best with the 13th-ranked run defense and 17th-ranked pass defense coming back from last season. I would have put them last but the Lions are in this division too.
Detroit Lions (4-12): No matter what ESPN tells you about the Lions being a possible surprise team, don't listen to them. The Lions will be terrible again this year. They took another wide receiver in the first round, though they didn't really have much of a choice with all-world (just like Charles Rogers, right?) Calvin Johnson falling to them at No. 2. But Dre Bly is gone making an already bad defense even worse, and John Kitna is still the quarterback. Last place it is.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys (10-6): Losing a hall-of-fame coach is usually a bad thing, but it won't be for the Cowboys. The departure of Bill Parcells means everybody can loosen up a little, mainly prima donna wide receiver Terrell Owens. With a more lax atmosphere, T.O. might actually be good again. Real good again. Rookie quarterback Tony Romo has a year under his belt and isn't holding snaps anymore (stop crying, Cowboys fans). The combination of poise and potential he showed last tells me he's going to have a big big year. Plus, they have man-child DeMarcus Ware and veteran Roy Williams anchoring the defense, putting the Cowboys over the top for me in the East.

Philadelphia Eagles (9-7): The Eagles remind me a lot of the Chicago Cubs the past couple of years. They pour money into a couple of oft-injured superstars they expect to carry the team, who end up getting hurt every year, hampering the team on the field and in the pocketbook. (Damn you, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood!) With the Eagles, those players are quarterback Donovan McNaab and running back Brian Westbrook, and if those players actually manage to stay healthy, then the Eagles are set. But NFL fans know the drill by now: By week six they'll both be on the bench and the Eagles will be struggling for points. They just didn't make enough moves to push the Cowboys for top spot.

New York Giants (9-7): I don't think I've ever seen as much turmoil thrust upon a team from a couple of guys that weren't even suiting up. But with all the noise made by Tiki Barber's new book stating that head coach Tom Coughlin drove him away from the game and defensive end Michael Strahan "contemplating retirement" (he was pissed because he didn't get more money and didn't want to look like a bad guy), the Giants have already gone through their season's worth of adversity without even stepping onto a field. Quarterback Eli Manning has enough weapons and enough chances to have proven himself by now, but has failed to do so.

Washington Redskins (4-12): This team has fallen off the map despite spending oodles of money on players and a hall-of-fame coach. Their offense (20th last year) and defense (27th) weren't any good and haven't gotten any better through off-season acquisitions. Too few moves to correct too many problems. They will be one of the worst teams this year.

NFC West

St. Louis Rams (13-3): While you probably won't see any surprises in the other NFC divisions, the NFC West is a division in flux. The perennial powerhouse Seattle Seahawks aren't as overwhelming as they once were, so the division is open for any one of these teams to take charge. The St. Louis Rams have a high-powered offense with Steven Jackson churning up unbelievable all-purpose yards and veteran quarterback Mark Bulger hitting future hall-of-famer Tory Holt for big gains through the air. The addition of wide out Drew Bennett will only make their offense better. In a division marked by big offenses, the Rams are the best prepared to take the top spot.

San Francisco 49ers (10-6): I've been really impressed with the progression of young quarterback Alex Smith from overwhelmed rookie to poised leader. He will be the key this year for a team with one of the league's best running backs, Frank Gore, coming out of the backfield. If Smith can produce through the air (He should now that the 49ers stole the Seahawks' main aerial weapon, Darrel Jackson.), it will give them the balance to pass up the old guard Seattle Seahawks.

Seattle Seahawks (9-7): It's not that I think the Seahawks are bad, it's just that they didn't really get any better while the rest of the division was slowly catching up to them. They have health questions with quarterback Matt Hasselback and Shawn Alexander, and they lost their top wide out Darrel Jackson to the 49ers. They will be fighting for a playoff spot and may even make the postseason, but there are too many questions for me to put them back at the top.

Arizona Cardinals (5-11): "They are who we thought they were!" Sorry, I just had to use it one more time before the new season washed away all the memories from last year. Every year I hear about the Cardinals competing for a playoff spot, but I just don't see it. Matt Leinart will be good, and he's got good weapons to throw to, but their offensive line still stinks it up, and without a good line they aren't going anywhere.

NFC South

New Orleans Saints (11-5): You wouldn't know it by their week one 41-10 drubbing at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts, but the Saints are far and away the best team in the division. Drew Brees is running an offense stacked with weapons, especially lightning-in-a-bottle back Reggie Bush. With tremendous balance on the ground and through the air, they are sure to put up a lot of points. They just have too much talent, even if it is just on one side of the ball, for the rest of the division to even stay close.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8): It was hard to put a team with this little talent on offense and diminishing talent on defense this high up, but they showed resiliency last season in winning some very close games. Quarterback Chris Simms has shown that he can be a good NFL quarterback before going down last year with a nasty spleen injury (anybody whose had a spleen injury has to have something good coming his way). Cadillac Williams figures to rebound after a down season as well. They'll just miss out on the playoffs this year.

Carolina Panthers (6-10): What's with this team? They're good, they're bad. They're up and down. I'm sick of picking this team to excel and watching them be inconsistent. So I'm putting the hammer down and putting them third in a weak division. Serves them right.

Atlanta Falcons (3-13): What is there left to say? They lost their only viable weapon in Michael Vick to prison, and their solution to a bad receiving core is old man extraordinare Joe Horn. To make it worse, Joey Harrington is now the starter. Gives you the feeling that Michael Vick got the good end of the deal.

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