In about a week the nation’s eyes will turn to New Orleans. It has been a long, arduous, and grueling seven months since the NFL season ended. The NBA regular season, a neutered Tiger PGA tour, tennis, and the World Cup have all tried to take the place of the country’s #1 sport. They have succeeded as well as Tiger has at golf since he stopped Tiger-ing every cocktail waitress and porn star between Las Vegas and Orlando. Well fear not, because like a newly divorced Tiger, the NFL season is back and coming to millions across the country.
Since the fall television season doesn’t get started for a few more weeks, I’m going to try to get my previewing skills sharp by taking a shot at the NFL. Most of what follows is nothing more than speculation based on cheap observations and very little facts or research.
Today is the NFC’s turn to get prognosticated. Come back Friday for their AFC brethren.
Let the baseless guessing begin…
Dallas Cowboys (12-4): This team is stacked. A talented quarterback with some big December wins under his belt, coupled with a fast defense that gets after the ball and quarterback. Plus the Super Bowl is in Dallas this year and Jerry Jones wants to be the first team to host the Super Bowl and play in it. Based on the last twenty years, what JJ wants, JJ gets. Unfortunately WR Roy Williams was one of those things and he drops more passes than Jack Tripper at the Regal Beagle.
Philadelphia Eagles (10-6): The loss of Donovan McNabb will help this team. Still having Andy Reid at coach will offset that benefit. Bank on at least two losses because of Reid’s clock management acumen. He is to the 2:00 drill what Dina Lohan is to parenting.
New York Giants (8-8): Eli Manning will always hold a special place in America’s heart for leading his team over the most hated group of assholes from New England since Gary’s Old Towne Tavern, but Eli just isn’t a very good quarterback. Not to mention the defense is getting older and as long as Brandon Jacobs is the featured back, the punter should be getting a lot of action.
Washington Redskins (6-10): I live in DC. Ever since Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb got to town, all people talk about is playoffs and MVPs and a return to glory. This is essentially the same team as last year except a year older and with a worse quarterback. Their offensive line, while marginally improved, is still going to have McNabb on his back more than Pamela Anderson at CrueFest. Not to mention Clinton Portis is pushing 30, which in running back years means he has roughly the same shot at 1,000 yards as Justin Long has at making a good movie.
Green Bay Packers (12-4)
As long as their defense gives up less than 30 points a game, the Packers are going to be very difficult to beat. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Ryan Grant is a steady running back and Greg Jennings is a top flight wideout. Charles Woodson is the reigning defensive player of the year. Not to mention playing in Green Bay in the winter for opposing teams is as appealing as free tickets to a Glenn Beck speech.
Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Even with the injury to Sidney Rice, Adrian Peterson and their defense will make the Vikes successful. However, this team can’t fail enough for me, and it has everything to do the narcissistic grandfather they have at quarterback. Minnesota used to be a team you could root for. They run the ball, play good defense, have a good group of loyal fans, a prominent history in the league and so on. Well that all changed when they brought in Brett Favre. The guy has gone away and come back more than Jesus Christ. I could watch this all day.
Detroit Lions (5-11): Two years removed from an 0-16 season, this is the year things start to go in a positive direction for the Lions. They have had a successful past couple of drafts. Calvin Johnson is a big play wide receiver and Matthew Stafford can get the ball to him. Jahvid Best is a potential playmaker in the backfield and Suh is a potential beast on the defensive line. But they are still young and prone to making mistakes.
Chicago Bears (4-12): Mike Martz is the Bears new offensive coordinator. People seem to get excited by this. Aside from a short tenure in St. Louis when his scheme was very successful, what has this guy done at stops in Detroit and San Francisco since 2006? In case you’re wondering, he has as many playoff appearances since he left the Rams as I do, and I haven’t coached in years. 33 of them to be exact.
New Orleans Saints (11-5): There’s going to be a championship hangover in New Orleans this season. Last year’s run can’t be duplicated. Their defense was very opportunistic and came up with big scores last season. Not to mention last year they played a last place schedule, and this year they’ll have a first place one. Repeating is hard to do, unless you’re Jimmy Two Times or play in New England with state of the art recording equipment.
Carolina Panthers (9-7): Every year they seem to be a popular pick to do well, and every year they come up short. Last year, despite two stud running backs and a tough defense, it was because their quarterback liked to throw to the other team more than his own. This year, who knows what the reason will be. But like most of Adam Sandler’s latest films, the Panthers look good on paper but are destined to disappoint.
Atlanta Falcons (8-8): 2009 was a turn in the wrong direction for one of 2008’s surprise teams. Michael Turner was overworked in ’08 and it showed last year and Matt Ryan experienced the Sophomore Slump popular in pro sports. Seeing how he never won anything in college other than a few secondary bowl games, maybe 2009 wasn’t a slump, but more an indicator of how good he actually is.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): This is a very young team, and young teams don’t win in the NFL. Its quarterback is in his second year. Their top defensive lineman and wide receiver are rookies. Hell, their coach is barely ten years out of college. One of the few guys on the team with any years under his belt is running back Cadillac Williams, who plays the one position you want youth. Not only is he a veteran but he’s also gone under the knife more often than Heidi Montag. The Bucs will have more bad plays than Leo Bloom.
San Francisco 49ers (9-7): This year’s popular pick to make the leap is the 49ers, and since I wasn’t popular in high school, I might as well be with this pick. The 49ers have a no-nonsense coach, a strong defense and a powerful running game. Their biggest problem is their quarterback, who has hands too small to grip the ball, which is kind of like having a teacher afraid to speak in public.
Arizona Cardinals (6-10): As long as Matt Leinart is the quarterback of this team they might as well spot their opponent two scores, because that’s how many points are going to result from his turnovers. Even if Leinart doesn’t play, the Cards other option is Derek Anderson, who in 2009 was benched for Brady Quinn in Cleveland. That’s like losing the Emmy to Jim Parsons.
St. Louis Rams (4-12): This is a bad team, and has been for a while. Given their schedule and the fact they have one of the best running backs in the game, a few wins should come their way. Starting rookie Sam Bradford at quarterback is in essence throwing in the towel before the year begins, but maybe by Week 12 he’ll have learned enough to win a few games. Apparently their new owner isn’t entirely opposed to moving the team back to California, so enjoy the weekly beatings of your Rams while you still can St. Louis.
Seattle Seahawks (2-14): This team has poor wide receivers, not much of a running game, an injury prone quarterback and a bad secondary. Other than that they’re in great shape. Not to mention their coach just high-tailed it out of USC right before the NCAA came crashing in with sanctions. That’s the real stand-up kind of guy I’d want leading my football team. They might as well have hired 1940s France.
Playoffs: Dallas and Green Bay win byes; Philadelphia over San Francisco, New Orleans over Minnesota. Dallas over Philadelphia, Green Bay over New Orleans; Green Bay over Dallas.