Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NFL Preview Part 6 (NFC North)

I barely even want to discuss this division since it means I have to type the words Brett Favre. Anyway, let's just assume he's coming back, which I'll assume each offseason until he dies. Since he is coming back, that means two things. First, the Vikings are the frontrunner to win the division. Second, Sidney Rice is a viable fantasy WR*. Only one of these two items concerns me, to be quite honest. (*editor’s note: not anymore)

Anyway, I like the Packers. They were a playoff team last year and if I remember correctly, played much better the second half of the season. The Pack should be a playoff team again. I like Rodgers (natch) and Ryan Grant is serviceable. He just plows for 4 yards straight down the middle. Not a gamebreaking back, but a downhill runner, which is nice these days. The Pack offense is awesome so as long as they can protect Rodgers and have a decent D, they should be fine. And if they can beat the Vikings once, they might win the division.

I think the Bears will bounce back some. Cutler should improve with Mike Martz as coordinator, Brian Urlacher is back and they added Julius Peppers. I still hate their WRs except for Johnny Knox. Regardless, this team shouldn't be that bad. Maybe 8-8 or something?

The Lions, ugh. They got some young talent but still will suck. They just might not suck as bad. So they got that going for them.

Your thoughts?

Obviously, I'm biased, but I think Green Bay can and should win the division. After they got their o-line sorted out last year, they finished 7-1. Their offense is a juggernaut, and Jermichael Finley is due for a big breakout this year. They can score with anyone. Defensively they might run into trouble. Granted, it was the first preseason game, but Cleveland's #1 offense steamrolled Green Bay's #1 defense. They need a more effective pass rush, and Al Harris is a big question mark with his injuries. They need a much better start than last year's 4-4. Check out their first 6 games:

@ Philly
vs. Buffalo
@ Chicago
vs. Detroit
@ Washington
vs. Miami

Those are all winnable games, then the schedule gets brutal with Minnesota twice, Dallas, New England, NYJ, NYG and Atlanta. If they come out of those first six games 3-3, or God forbid even worse, then things could go downhill fast. But if they come through with four or five wins, then giddyup.

As for Minnesota, we all know Favre's back. But can anyone expect the stupid line he put up last year? 68.4% completion rate, 33/7 TD/Int ratio and 107.2 rating. Even Neil Patrick Harris hasn't enjoyed a career renaissance that good. But there's no way he can do that twice, is there? Either way, it will go right down to the wire with the Packers. And consider this: 4 of their last 5 games are in domes, so weather won't be a factor. Shoot me.

Chicago will do what Chicago always does- a mediocre, forgettable season.

I like what Detroit's doing. Stafford, Suh and Calvin Johnson are good building blocks. I could very well see them overtaking the Bears in the next year.

Green Bay can win the division. Should? That's a bigger stretch than you thinking Hasheem Thabeet won't bite on pump fakes. Green Bay can't go 0-2 against Minnesota. That's the bottom line. And yes, Favre was insane last year with his performance, but really, I don't see why Minnesota will drop. They still have Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice and the best defensive line in football. I hate it, but Minnesota SHOULD win the division. Anything can happen though.

As for the first 6 games, I think 4-2 is a pretty reasonable start. I think they'll lose at Philly and hopefully vs. Miami. But they should beat Buffalo and Detroit for sure. There is no reason they don’t win at least 2 of the 4 games against Philly, Chicago, Washington and Miami.

Anyway, here's my prediction

1. Minnesota (12-4)
2. Green Bay (11-5)
3. Chicago (8-8)
4. Detroit (5-11)

Here's the thing: Green Bay can improve. They can get better play from the o-line and better play from the defense. Minnesota can't improve. Best case scenario is they stay at the same level as last year. Big difference. If Green Bay even splits the season series with Minnesota, they should take the division. Prediction:

1. Green Bay (12-4)
2. Minnesota (11-5)
3. Chicago (7-9)
4. Detroit (4-12)

Well, using that theory, Detroit has lots of room to improve, so pick them to win the division.

Okay, here's a decent question. Every year there is one team that comes out of the crappy teams to surprise everyone. Last year it was the Bengals. Two years ago it was the Dolphins and Falcons. We're what, 75% done with our preview and I think for the most part we've picked about the same order of finish in each division as the previous year. Picking between the Packers and Vikings or Jets and Pats is really splitting hairs.

Who is the sleeper crappy team that rises up this year? And by crappy, they had to win less than 7 games last year. The choices are: Bills, Browns, Raiders, Chiefs, Redskins, Lions, Bucs, Seahawks or Rams.

And when I say "rises", I mean at least 9 wins. Dear God, I have to pick one of those teams to win 9 games? It's not the Browns, Bills, Lions or Rams.

Seattle had some injuries last year but I still don't trust Pete Carroll and Matt Hasselback. The Raiders, uh, in a word, no. I think it has to be the Chiefs or Redskins. I guess Redskins, huh? Shanahan and McNabb could possibly squeeze out 9 wins, right?

The Skins are the obvious choice, but in that division it's tough. The Seahawks are in a crappy division, but Hasselbeck's always hurt and the backups are JP Losman (!) and Charlie Whitehurst (!!!). The Bills, Browns and Rams are hopeless. The Lions are 2-3 years away. So how about this: why not the Raiders? Their QB has gone from F- to C-, which should be good for at least a couple of wins in itself. Their defense is halfway decent, and I'm not ready to give up on Darren McFadden at RB.

Then there's the schedule: I don't expect them to do much against San Diego, but couldn't they steal 3 wins in 4 games against Denver and KC? They also play the NFC West this year, which gives them four winnable games.

I'm not saying they'll make the playoffs, but I could very well see them winning 7 or 8 and challenging Denver for second in the division.

I was thinking possibly the Chiefs, for the same reason about playing in a weak division. I think Cassel is alright, plus what if Dwyane Bowe bounces back and their RBs are okay. I have no clue about their defense though. I can't rightly pick them to win 9 games. I see what you are saying about the Raiders. They are boring but they seemed to hang in a lot of games last year. Just getting rid of Jamarcus Russell should be good enough for what 2-3 wins? That would take them from 4 wins to 6 or 7. Maybe...

Just please don't remind of this prediction when the Raiders finish 2-14.

It's never pretty having to pick the sleeper. I mean, there's what, a 1 in 9 chance you are right? And really, we're too lazy to really predict the sleeper after looking at those 9 teams schedules. Plus injuries affect NFL more than any other league.

Hey, I checked the Raiders' schedule! I promised half-assed research and I did it!

You're leaving me behind. If you ever dumped me as a blogmate, well, that would be the low-point of my life to date. (not trying to tempt you).


Chris said...

I already hate my Vikings pick. It's not just the Sidney Rice injury either. I think that Favre finally misses some games and this team just plain underachieves.

Mark said...

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