Breaking Down The NFC

by Trevor Freeman



Is it just me or is baseball borderline unwatchable at this point?  I can honestly say that I haven’t watched a full nine-inning game since May.  Why do I bring this up?  Because for the last three months, my sports plate has consisted of a combination of Olympic sports, English Premier League/Gold Cup Soccer and UFC.  Let’s just say, I have watched more episodes of UFC Unleashed on Spike than should be allowed by law. 


With the NFL season kicking off in two weeks, we will begin our look by breaking down the NFC in our below power poll.  Without further ado….. 


1.  New York Giants


The Giants look like the most complete team in the NFC.  Had Plaxico not shot himself (which is still four of the funniest words stringed together in recent history), the Giants may well have repeated as Super Bowl champs.  Now they have had a full offseason to address replacing Plaxico and Hakeem Nicks, Ramses Barden, Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon will give them suitable options at wideout.  The defense is still lights out and should be even better this year. Their running game can be dominant at times and Eli has quietly become a very good quarterback.


2.  Philadelphia


The Eagles signing Michael Vick on the cheap was brilliant.  Vick lining up everywhere on the field will give Defensive Coordinators fits.  The Eagles quietly have a lot of speed at the skill positions in Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brian Westbrook.


3.  Green Bay


The Packers lost a TON of close games last season.  I think Aaron Rodgers has an MVP type season.  I think I break things every time the cameras pan to Alex Smith and I realize we could have drafted Rodgers instead.  The defense looks stout.  The running game looks solid.  Look for Green Bay to win twelve games and contend for home field advantage.


4.  Chicago


Like I told my buddy, “Jay Cutler may well be a crybaby, but he’s also a gigantic upgrade over Rex Grossman or Kyle Orton.”  Upgrading from that dynamic duo to Cutler is like opening your refrigerator and seeing that your twelve pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon has been replaced with Yuengling.  It’s like opening up your garage door and seeing a Lamborghini instead of a 1997 Toyota Camry.


5.  Atlanta 


I know the Falcons will have a more difficult schedule than last season but there is a lot to like about Atlanta.  Matt Ryan should improve in his second season.  They added Tony Gonzalez which will aid Ryan’s progress (although for you Michael Turner fantasy owners, it will also vulture touchdowns).  Atlanta had an opportunity to address their defense in the offseason, which they did by taking defensive players with their first five picks in last year’s draft.  I like the Falcons and think they win that division.


6.  Arizona 


The Cardinals have the Super Bowl loser jinx working against them.  Kurt Warner also made all sixteen starts last season.  It would not surprise me if ages catches up and he only makes twelve to fourteen games this season.  That being said, Arizona still has the most potent offense in the NFC. 


I’m just throwing this out there for feedback.  I have the third pick in my fantasy draft and my league awards one point per reception.  Larry Fitzgerald is the first receiver I have ever considered taking that high.  Any thoughts on this? 


7.  San Francisco


Maybe I am a complete homer, but I feel like the 49ers are going to be squarely in the mix for a playoff spot.  Mike Singletary had the team looking great down the stretch of last season and Shaun Hill is the right man to start at quarterback.  Keep an eye on Glen Coffee.  He has looked incredible in the preseason and could give San Francisco a dangerous 1-2 punch at running back.


Maybe this is a stupid question, but why wouldn’t the 49ers call up Denver and offer the draft rights to Michael Crabtree for Brandon Marshall?  Both teams get rid of a significant headache and both players get a fresh start with their new fans….and yes Michael Crabtree already needs a fresh start with a new set of fans as every 49er fan I know is incensed by this holdout.  I’m sure if the 49ers rumored Crabtree offer was given to Marshall that he would jump with joy.  Plus, Singletary should command respect from Brandon Marshall which is something that I am not sure Josh McDaniels does.


8.  Minnesota


I watched a lot of Brett Favre last season with the Jets.  I’m not sure if he is an upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson.  Last year, Jackson had a 95.4 quarterback rating with nine touchdowns and two interceptions over eight games.  Meanwhile, Favre tossed twenty-two picks last season with ten coming over the crucial last six games of the season for New York.  Nobody and I mean nobody in New York was crying when the Jets decided to part ways with Favre. 


(It is time for a mid-article break and question.  Why isn’t football season beginning Labor Day weekend?  Not only would that have been a beautiful idea, it probably helps the American economy.  With no work staring me in the eye, I probably hit a bar for the opening Sunday where I splurge for an excessive amount of beers, buffalo wings and nachos.


As a general rule from here on out, the NFL should kick off on Labor Day weekend and try to have AFC/NFC Championship games on Martin Luther King Day weekend.  There is no reason why we keep messing this up.)


9.  Dallas


I personally think the NFL should force the Cowboys to play at a college stadium until they get the scoreboard raised.  How ridiculous is it that we will see many a down replayed in their new stadium because their scoreboard is too low? 


10.  New Orleans


I’m not sure how this year’s team won’t be the same all-offense, no-defense New Orleans Saints team that we have seen for the past few years.  That being said, I raised Reggie Bush in my fantasy rankings by multiple spots after I read he broke up with Kim Kardashian.  The impact of that decision is something that can’t be quantified.


11.  Washington

Somebody in the NFC East needs to take the lion’s share of those divisional losses and the Redskins look like that team.  Their record will suffer as I see them going 2-4 against the rest of the NFC East. 


12.  Carolina


Delhomme’s playoff performance last season was abysmal and I think that hangover lingers into the season.  The Panthers have been in the mix for awhile now and it feels like they take a step back this season.


13.  Seattle


There are a number of people making the case that Seattle will be better as they had a historic number of injuries last season.  I say they had a historic number of injuries because their key players are old.  Plus, going from Mike Holmgren to Jim Mora Jr. is not an upgrade.  People forget that Holmgren won a Super Bowl and brought two teams to the penultimate game.  He also had a big hand in the success of the 49ers as an offensive coordinator.  To use the car analogy that we used for Cutler….what would you rather have, an old Bentley or a new Nissan Sentra?


14.  Tampa Bay 


While I am ranking Tampa here, I do feel like the Buccaneers could be a spoiler down the stretch of this season. 


15.  St. Louis Rams


There’s lot of people hopping onto the Donnie Avery fantasy bandwagon and quite frankly I can’t bite.  I think Steve Spagnuolo is going to use this year to rebuild and will have the Rams frisky by next season.


16.  Detroit


The Lions will not go winless again this season.  I think they win three to four games and pull an upset on Chicago, Green Bay or Minnesota.  Calvin Johnson is a nice fantasy play.  Even with the Lions playing musical chairs at quarterback, he quietly posted 78 receptions, 1,331 yards and twelve touchdowns.  I would not be shocked if Matt Stafford quietly becomes a solid fantasy quarterback option at the end of this season.  The Lions should be behind a lot which means he will get a chance to air it out.





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