Orleans (11 – 5) ~ You will know everything you need
to know about the Saints by week 4. They start with Minnesota
at home, travel to play San Francisco, then return home for Atlanta
and Carolina. It’s all right there. Everything you could possibly
need to know. Tough conference games… tough divisional games…
and if they start 3-1 or even 4-0, they will be quite comfortably
in control of the NFC South, and even at 3-1, probably the NFC.
mean… look at that again… Vikings… 49ers… Falcons… Panthers. All
NFC games. All potentially important (depending on who you are
listening to) when it comes to earning a playoff spot and even
expect them to come through that quite nicely. Because here’s
the dirty secret… they faced a tougher schedule last season.
the problem with New Orleans is the defense. Drew Brees has set
a high standard at quarterback since joining New Orleans, and
his ability to spread the ball around and run the attack should
be fine. I have no problems with the offense.
questions involve the defense. Can they stop the opposition? Last
season we had Minnesota flying high and powerful into their regular
season contest. New England… Miami… Philadelphia… Dallas… teams
with great players on their offenses, if not simply brilliant
and outright powerful offenses overall.
the Vikings are hurting on offense entering this year… with their
top wide receiver out. And after Minnesota, the schedule offers
up Baltimore and Dallas as the top offensive threats. I’m not
kidding. Other than those two teams and a guy named Favre, only
Ben Roethlisberger is a consistent top third of the league quarterback.
Tampa Bay… Carolina… Atlanta? I like the Falcons and Matt Ryan,
but let’s not get carried away just yet. Cincy? Perhaps… but time
will tell on how that situation is working out. After that we
have Seattle… St. Louis... Arizona… and surely you see what I
mean by now.
Saints are lined up nicely for a solid year. And if Drew Brees
stays healthy, they will make the playoffs and should be in good
position to defend their title.
(9 – 7) ~ Well… let’s get the obvious right out there…
if the Saints have a good schedule, the Falcons do too. And the
Falcons have a nice balance of offense and defense. There’s alot
to like here.
the middle of the season provided them with terrors last year.
And that’s what they need to avoid to do well this season.
2009, they started with two wins… finished it with three wins…
and arrived at 9-7 by going 4-7 in between the great beginning
the dust settles in the AFC, I do believe 10 wins will be a must
for the playoffs. (Unless you are the AFC West champion. 7 wins
might get that done. (And yes, I am aware I have a 9-7 AFC club
making it into the playoffs right now.)) But in the NFC, I could
see 9 wins making it. And I think the Falcons will.
they have to stay steady and avoid losing streaks, because they
simply aren’t a team that can count on running off 4 or 5 in a
row to make up for stretches of losses.
(7 – 9) ~ Do you want the good news or the bad news?
one problem for the Panthers is that they have the Saints and
Falcons in their division. I think both are clearly superior teams.
And that’s the bad news.
there is an interesting light at the end of the tunnel.
strange things happen during the football season. Last year, after
14 games, the Jets were toast that had zero chance of making the
playoffs. After playing 15 games, they needed a victory over a
team that was likely to roll over and play dead. A month later,
they were playing the Colts in the AFC title game. Snapping your
fingers will happen more slowly than changes in the NFL. Teams
we believe are good right now will look like crap by November.
And before it’s over, teams looking like crap and out of it in
November will have their playoff fates in their own hands with
multiple games left on the schedule. It just works out that way.
explanation noted, let’s consider the Panthers. See… if we talk
for a few minutes and agree they might be decent and a good dark
horse for the playoff picture, than we can agree on some games
they’ll need to win. Right? Out of the gate, the Panthers play
the Giants, Buccaneers, Bengals, Saints, and Bears. While not
telling you about staging an upset… rising to the level of a quality
opponent… or stubbing their toe against an inferior one… the reality
is that a playoff team should come out of that kind of stretch
at 3-2. Or better. (A playoff team will beat the Bucs at home.)
move that along. St. Louis. Cleveland. Seattle. Arizona. All on
here’s the really beautiful thing.
think Moore could be a serviceable quarterback. Definitely better
than Vince Young. And with him we have two running backs… Stewart
and Williams… that are as good a pairing as the league offers
outside of Miami.
you want my biggest surprise of the year… the team I’m thinking
will be in that mid-range of record (6… 7… 8 wins), and yet eventually
plays above that and sneaks into the playoffs… here they are.
Bay (5 – 11) ~ They will likely be the underdog in every
game they play. (Well… scratch that… Cleveland at home in week
one. So we’ll see.)
liked some of what I saw from Josh Freeman last season. Could
have something there. Would you believe the Cadillac… Carnell
Williams… is in his sixth season?
just not much to say. 5 wins is probably too high, but again…
I like the way the schedule sets up for the NFC South this year.
Francisco (9 – 7) ~ The best of a very weak group. And
because of that… buyer beware when the playoffs arrive. See…
a good chance Alex Smith is going to the Pro Bowl this year.
know… I know… and I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.
Feeling better? Good.)
got the widely credited, but potentially so overrated he’s underrated
Frank Gore in the backfield. We add to that a Michael Crabtree
that should be there for a full season, and a Vernon Davis that
might just have taken some criticism to heart and stepped up his
that’s not all.
watch Ted Ginn last season in Miami? There’s a reason they let
him go. He couldn’t catch a football if you placed it in his lap
while he was sitting in a chair. But as a special teams player…
he was making lots of fantasy owners happy.
there’s a good chance the offense will get the ball with decent
starting position on lots of possessions. And… as noted… there’s
some balance in that attack. (And… even if it takes Favre or Brees
expressing their gratitude and passing on the trip… Alex Smith
is going to go to the Pro Bowl.)
oh yeah… San Francisco is planning to make their name on defense,
won’t go to the Super Bowl. They will not lose this division.
(7 – 9) ~ I just don’t know what to expect.
Anderson. Could he be Matt Cassel from 2008? You know… it looks
like an impossible situation to replace the guy, and yet surrounded
by some talent… and if he doesn’t make many mistakes… could he
lead this club to 10 or so wins?
talking about Larry Fitzgerald and other assorted contributors.
Deep wide receiving group. Beanie Wells! Look at that… it’s Beanie
Wells. Enough running not to wince. There’s some stuff for Anderson
to work with.
in four games against the likes of Seattle and St. Louis… add
in Oakland and Kansas City… it’s not impossible to get to 8 or
9 wins I suppose.
it’s not like this club is up and down any more. Playoffs last
year… Super Bowl two years ago… the team is doing fine under Whisenhunt.
of using that stuff though, let’s focus on something we really
shouldn’t… last season’s playoff results. See… last year very
few clubs cleared 20-points against the Cardinals. Happened 7
times in the regular season, and one of those was Green Bay in
a must-game for the Packers to end the year. Arizona won 3 of
the 7 games.
you tell me Derek Anderson is going to be on the field for 10
to 12 games where the opponents are going to score 21 or fewer,
I’ll put Arizona in the playoffs right now.)
in the playoffs… yeah… back to that point. Green Bay and New Orleans
put up 45 in back-to-back efforts last season. The Packers lost
in overtime… the Saints crushed the Cardinals. Was the defense
and low scoring of opponents the reality? Or do they fade in big
games against quality clubs?
finishing first in the division last year, the Cardinals get Dallas,
Minnesota and New Orleans as opponents this year. They travel
to play Atlanta, San Diego and Carolina. We’ll find out about
those quality clubs.
just not sensing it. Too many question marks and problems. Not
enough in their favor.
(6 – 10) ~ Funny thing about Seattle… I like the general
attitude. Team first, unity, build a roster that wants to be there.
It’s nice. Good to hear.
nice doesn’t win many football games.
mean… heck… Charlie Whitehurst? What the hell is that about?
question… there are some hardnosed, dedicated football players
on this roster. But I don’t see anything to suggest success in
Louis (5 – 11) ~ I love Steven Jackson.
think it’s great that Sam Bradford is going to start right away.
umm… that’s about it.
been some talk about their rookie tight end… Michael Hoomanawanui…
but on a roster like this, with little else to talk about… it’s
hard to see even a great rookie season contributing to much when
it comes to their record.
gave them 5 wins because I think they’ll be better than they have
been, and they also play in a relatively weak division.