By Trevor Freeman
I have a question for Roger Goodell that is deeper and more important than the ones which arise from the “Pac-Man” Jones and Michael Vick situations. It is one that needs to be kicked around and debated at the highest levels. The burning issue that I have with the NFL is that they don’t start the season the Sunday before Labor Day. How awesome would it be to have a consequences-free, “do you want a shot of Jose Cuervo to wash down those Yuenglings” first Sunday of football season. It would be a situation where everybody wins. The beer companies win. The bars win. The fans win. We all win.
With football season starting this Sunday, we will take a look at the NFL’s answer to the NBA’s Eastern Conference. We begin our NFC preview with……..
“Jeff has seniority so he gets to go scout Colt Brennan in Hawaii. Mike you get to set up shop in Arkansas and watch Darren McFadden. Ted, you get to spend the fall in Louisville watching Brian Brohm.”
16. Atlanta Falcons
I think Bobby Petrino is secretly happy about how the whole Michael Vick thing turned out. Fitting Vick into his offense would have been like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Now, Petrino will get a free pass for this season and Atlanta is in pole position for the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. There is no doubt in my mind that when Petrino goes to sleep at night, he is dreaming about his old pupil and the perfect triggerman for his offense in Brian Brohm.
15. New York Giants
Remember when “Married With Children” added another child to the Bundy family named “Six” and the fans of the show went into a full-scale revolt. The producers then axed the character and pretended that it had all been one dream sequence. Well, Tom Coughlin is “Six” and the Giants have yet to do the smart thing and show him the door. It will destroy this team. Without Tiki Barber they are already losing a guy who won about three games by himself last year. Toss in Luke Petitgout also hitting the road and Michael “I’m not gay” Strahan showing up at camp about a week before the season started and you have a recipe for disaster. The Giants have 4-12 written all over them. Luckily for them, I think a new coach and adding a back like Darren McFadden could turnaround the franchise in a hurry.
I love that the Lions are still letting Matt Millen pick the groceries. I can’t wait to watch him draft Texas WR Limas Sweed in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft. The Lions will have an offense that can put points on the board. Unfortunately their defense is like the girls auditioning for “Flavor of Love 3”. They are easy for anybody to score on.
13. Washington Redskins
I am firmly in the camp that believes it isn’t Joe Gibbs fault that the Redskins stink just like it wasn’t Steve Superior’s. Daniel Snyder is the one to blame. The trading of draft picks and the constant signing of veterans is killing this franchise. They need to go through a rebuilding phase and get some ballplayers through the draft.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Let’s put it this way. If I’m Jon Gruden I’m telling my agent to get my name involved with any big-name college opening or television analyst position that may become available over the next three to four months. Tampa Bay is a bad team that is only getting worse. If Jeff Garcia gets hurt early in the season the Buccaneers will challenge Atlanta for the worst record in football.
“Not good enough to make the playoffs…….not bad enough that college football needs to be your priority in the fall.”
11. Green Bay
The Packers defense was quietly stout last season as A.J. Hawk had 119 tackles and Charles Woodson intercepted 8 passes. Unfortunately, the Packer front office continues to hinder the team’s development by letting an aging Brett Favre handicap their offense. You look at Alex Smith’s growth in San Francisco and you wonder why the Packers don’t just cut ties with Favre and begin the developing of Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers went in the same draft as Smith and even though he was drafted later in the first round, he was not thought of as being a dramatically worse quarterback prospect.
10. Minnesota Vikings
If the Vikings had an average starting quarterback they would probably be challenging Chicago for the division title and would be a lock for one of the two wild card spots. Unfortunately for them they have Tarvaris Jackson as their starting quarterback which means that every NFL team and about 27 college teams are fielding a better starter.
“It may be time to start rebuilding.”
9. St. Louis Rams
The Rams gave up 24 points a game last season and ranked 31st against the run. They addressed this porous situation by doing absolutely nothing in the offseason. That means we will be looking at the same, old Rams. Fun to watch, but will go 8-8 and lose at least three games by scores like 45-28.
8. Carolina Panthers
Because the bottom feeders of the NFC South are uglier than Nicole Richie in her anorexic days, Carolina will probably get to 8-8. That will keep them in the playoff picture up until the last days of the season. Unfortunately for them I don’t think they make it there.
Just as a note, I loved the David Carr signing. I think his problems in Houston were due more to him not having an offensive line than to him not having the tools to succeed. It will not shock me if he has success should Jake Delhomne go down sometime during the season.
7. Seattle Seahawks
I’m treating the Seahawks the same way everybody treated Shaun Alexander in their fantasy drafts. Wary of putting their eggs in an old basket and more than willing to let somebody else take a chance on him.
“I can’t trust the decision making skills of any quarterback who would willingly breakup with Carrie Underwood so they can date Jessica Simpson.”
6. Dallas Cowboys
I’m dead serious when I say that I can’t trust Tony Romo’s judgment as a quarterback if the reports about him dropping Underwood for Simpson are true. That’s like trading in a 2008 Ferrari for a 1992 Pontiac Grand Prix. That being said, the Cowboys possess a ton of individual talent. If Terrell Owens can avoid trying to kill himself and Wade Phillips can be 80% of Bill Parcells then the Cowboys should squeeze into the playoffs in the weak NFC.
(See below for information about the Romo-Underwood-Simpson triangle.)
5. Arizona Cardinals
I know that every year they are considered the sleeper du jour and every year they disappoint. However, I think that this is the year the Cardinals put it together and challenge for the NFC West title and a playoff spot.
It begins with Matt Leinart. I like the Hollywood “I used to date Paris Hilton and Kristin Cavallari” arrogance he brings to the table. You can see in the way Leinart carries himself that there is no doubt in his mind that he is the best quarterback in the NFL. I think this is exactly the kind of persona a franchise like Arizona needs. His teammates were rallying and responding to him and by the end of last season, Arizona was downright frisky. On offense, the Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Edgerrin James flanking him. James in particular looks poised to have a comeback season. The scheduling gods are also aligned for Arizona as they only have four games against teams that made the playoffs last season.
4. San Francisco 49ers
A big offseason spending spree that included Nate Clements, Darrell Jackson, Ashley Lelie, Michael Lewis and Tully Canta-Bain combined with a draft that included Patrick Willis and Joe Staley has given the Five-Time Super Bowl Champions a chance to make the move from young, frisky team to NFC contender. Alex Smith has been sharp this preseason and looks like he is about to make the leap. Frank Gore is a top five running back and should challenge for the NFC rushing title. The 49ers also only have five games against teams that made the playoffs last season. No way they don’t get to at least 10-6.
“Going to be disappointed come playoff time.”
3. Philadelphia Eagles
If Philadelphia doesn’t get the job done this season, then they never will in the Donovan McNabb era and that has to weigh on the mind of Andy Reid. They both need McNabb to not only be big this year but to be healthy, because if he goes down again this season there will not be a Jeff Garcia waiting in the wings to save the franchise. Most of all, if he goes down again you have to think the Eagles may be shipping him out and rebuilding around Kevin Kolb in 2008.
(Speaking of fat coaches who need to get the job done….how is Charlie Weis not taking more heat right now? In Tyrone Willingham’s third season, Notre Dame went 6-5 and the Irish had a team full of good, young talent which included Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, Tom Zbikowski, Darius Walker and Rhema McKnight. In Charlie Weis’ third year you have a team without much talent that will go 3-9 if it is lucky.)
2. Chicago Bears
I cannot express how foolish I think it was for Chicago to basically trade Thomas Jones for nothing. He carried their offense last season. Without him, the Bears are going to be putting a lot more pressure on Rex Grossman and that is not a good thing. I think Grossman is going to screw the pooch enough in the regular season that the Bears will have to travel to New Orleans in order to make the Bowl. It is there that the dream will end.
“Better put in the vacation request for the Monday after the Super Bowl right now.”
1. New Orleans Saints
As scary as their offense was last season, I think they will be even better this year. Reggie Bush was really coming on down the stretch of last season and should pick up where he left off to start this one. Drew Brees was outstanding as well last season and is the undisputed leader of an offense that boasts weapons at every skill position. The Saints brought in Jason David, Kendrick Clancy and Dhani Jones to help shore up the defense. If the defense can make the move from mediocre to average, the Saints should be able to navigate their way to the Bowl. One thing they have going in their favor is that they only have four games against teams who made the playoffs last season.
With that our look at the NFC is done………..see you on Sunday……
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at [email protected]