Thursday, September 6, 2007

Apples & Moustaches' NFL Preview: The NFC

NFC East
1. Cowboys: 11-5
2. Eagles: 10-6
3. Giants: 7-9
4. Redskins: 5-11

NFC North
1. Bears: 11-5
2. Packers: 9-7
3. Lions: 6-10
4. Vikings: 3-13

NFC South
1. Saints: 13-3
2. Panthers: 8-8
3. Bucs: 6-10
4. Falcons: 5-11

NFC West
1. Seahawks: 12-4
2. Niners: 8-8
3. Rams: 8-8
4. Cardinals: 7-9

Playoff Seeds
1. Saints
2. Seahawks
3. Bears
4. Cowboys
5. Eagles
6. Packers

Wild Card
Bears over Packers
Eagles over Cowboys

Seahawks over Eagles
Saints over Bears

AFC Championship
Saints over Seahawks

10 random AFC thoughts

The NFC West is the toughest division to predict so far, all four teams have tons of potential; all four teams have serious doubts.

Seattle: still the most talented team from top to bottom, but are they too old?

San Francisco: have made major strides last two years and had a great off season, but are the young guys ready to take this to the next level? Can they handle the pressure of going from perpetual underdog to the team everyone likes this year?

St. Louis: still have one of the most explosive offenses in the league, but can they stop anyone? How many shootouts can they win?

Arizona: This team is definitely moving in the right direction, but are their defensive and offensive lines good enough to carry this team to respectability?

I think the Hawks improved enough on D and are healthy enough on O to put together one last run and the other three teams are still a year away. Will be fun to see how this plays out.

Three other things that I look forward to every NFL off season: 1) The combine, 2) fantasy football mock drafts in June, and 3) A touching interview with Brett Favre from his ranch in bumblefuck Mississippi when he sits on a tractor and wonders if he still has enough left. I’m fully entrenched in the “Brett Favre should play as long as he wants” camp, I know a lot of people aren’t but I love Brett and I hope he plays five more years. There isn’t a better QB to have miked up, root for and gamble against.

I think the wheels fall off the Bears bus this year. Too much Rex and way too much Cedric Benson. Two signs that your team is going to have a rough season: 1) your QB sucks and everyone knows he sucks including him. Bonus points here if he looks like a nine year old who just pissed himself on the back of the yellow bus. 2) The starting RB is the most hated player on the team. Never a good idea to be a self serving asshole when your position relies on having 9 other people block as hard as they can for you on every play. I smell nothing but trouble here.
Look, I like Jake Delhomme, he’s fearless, tough, emotional, an everyman made good. A lot to like about Jake D. I just can’t get past one point: he fucking sucks. I’m sorry Jake fans but he’s awful. Add the Panthers to the list of teams that should’ve taken Brady Quinn last year. The Panthers, even with all that talent, including the top WR and DE in the league will be perpetually 8-8 until a change is made under center.

Two teams I love this year: Dallas and Green Bay.

Dallas: if Tony Romo can get his head out of Carrie Underwood’s Underwear (and he better be straight with her or say good-bye to his pretty little 4 wheel drive) long enough to read his playbook their offense will be good, not crazy good but good enough. The real breakthrough this year is the defense. Parcells is a total devotee to the 4-3 even when he had the absolute perfect 3-4 defense at his fingertips. Wade Phillips does have a jerk off face, no doubt about that, but he’s the master of the 3-4 and that D will be in the top 3 this year – guaranteed.

Go Pack Go: I think this is more of a testament to how bad their division is than how much better Green Bay is this year. But they still have Favre, added a lot of weapons on offense (I bet Brandon Jackson and James Jones both finish in the top 15 in rookie of the year votes) and the D is underrated and raw. I think Favre leads them back to playoffs, they’ll fly in a tractor for him to sit on in his pre-game interview and then the Pack will lose by 30. Good times.

Two teams I hate this year: New York and Minnesota.

Giants: Note to owners, general manager and VPs of operations everywhere: everyone hates Tom Coughlin. He may be good for 9 wins, he may get you to the playoffs, and he might even get a career year out of that lousy investment you made a few years back, but guess what? Football is an emotional game and when your players hate the coach they won’t play as hard, bottom line. The era of the rah rah, bigger than life, yell until their eyeballs pop out of their heads coaches is gone. Dead. Buried somewhere in the Tuna’s fat rolls. I know the old school football guys hate to admit this but the Tony Dungys, Lovie Smiths, Andy Reids and Mike Nolans of the world are the future. Hire and fire accordingly.

Vikings: Great offensive line, absolutely killer defensive line, two great running backs including Adrian Peterson who runs like he’s carrying a bottle of antidote to his poisoned mother. But the WRs are fucking dog shit and the QB couldn’t start for 100 out of 116 college teams. Yes, he’s that bad. When the Falcons and Chiefs look at your QB situation and give you one of those “we’re so sorry” nods, it might be time to go in a different direction. Note to Vikings front office: SIGN BYRON LEFTWICH RIGHT NOW!!!! Put Leftwich on this team (and no, Leftwich is not the answer, but he’s like a salami sandwich that’s been left in the fridge a day too long, where Tavraris Jackson is like a room filled with sasquatch diarrhea that has been shut, air tight for three months.) and the Vikes win 8 games maybe 9, with Jackson they’ll crawl to 3.

The Eagles? I have no idea either. The offense will be good it always is, the defense will be good it always is, the coaching staff is solid it always is. Can Donovan and Westbrook play a whole season? Is Kevin Curtis good? Can the D win a few games for them? Let’s call them 10-6 to be safe.

Is there a more intriguing team in the NFL than the Falcons? Think about it, they’ve been souring on Vick for a few years anyway, starting to wonder if a quarterback with his style could ever win a super bowl. However, he was a fan favorite and the best selling jersey in the NFL, you can’t bench someone with that distinction. Granted, the Falcons would rather have Schaub at the helm than Captain D-Bag, but this will still be an interesting little experiment, huh? I still think they suck this year, but at the same time they have major sleeper potential too.


5 players to watch:

1) Rex Grossman, Bears: is he good and just young? Will he always be awful? Is this the year he goes through puberty and starts shaving? Do the Bears give up on him after one of his patented 10-31, 109, 3 picks games?

2) DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys: He’s the Shawne Merriman in Wade’s 3-4, how good can he be? He had 11.5 sacks last year playing as slightly mismatched DE , what can do as an OLB in the 3-4? 13 sacks? 15? 18?

3) Jon Gruden and Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay: is this going to work? Can Gruden hook one more old QB to his rejuvenation machine? Gruden and “genius” and Garcia and “game changer” haven’t been used in the same sentences in a long, long time. Is this the year? Does Gruden get fired if they post another 6-10? All interesting questions.

4) Gregg Williams, Redskins: the highest paid D coordinator in the league basically shit in his hand and rubbed it on his face 16 games in a row last year. Has he completely lost his mojo? How can a team with that much talent only have 20 sacks and 6 picks? Seems kind of impossible, doesn’t it? Can he keep his own shit off his face this year?

5) Eli Manning, Giants: He’s on this list ever year, b/c no one knows what to make of him. Remember when he was traded to the Giants and the common reaction was, “perfect place for him, unlike Peyton, Eli loves the spotlight.” All together now: huh? Peyton is on TV every nine seconds and Eli has been sulking around NY, throwing crippling, game ending picks for three years straight. Is this the year he puts it all together? Do his teammates turn on him?

The NFC sucks. The 6th best team in the AFC, Pittsburgh in my opinion, would easily be the 2nd or 3rd best team in the NFC. Another crappy Super Bowl on the way.

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