Sep
10

NFC Predictions part 2, Matt's Picks

Mark, that post… one word… DYNAMIC. But I don’t think you’re what you used to be… just kidding.

I would disagree with some of your picks, let’s start with the most important and most competitive division, the NFC EAST.

NFC EAST

1. Philadelphia Eagles

2. Washington Redskins

3. New York Giants

4. Dallas Cowboys

The Eagles are coming off a successful season and playoff performance. They went 9 and 6 last year and will have new options on offense with Michael Vick involved and DeSean Jackson in his second year. The Defense definitely will have a difficult time adjusting to the losses of Brian Dawkins at free safety and the late Jim Johnson as their defensive coordinator. But, they still have playmakers and by mid-season I think the defense will be the third best in the NFC East.

The ‘Skins have made a big investment into Haynesworth and with the drafting of Orakpo they have two players that get to the quarterback like me trying to get to a pizza hut buffet (love those). In theory, the addition of Haynesworth will draw double teams and allow other lineman such as Andre Carter and Philip Daniels to make more plays on the quarterback, which in turn will create more turnover opportunities for the secondary and linebackers. We’ll see if that’s what happens (I think it will).

The ‘Skins offense was the primary problem last year, but with Derrick Dockery coming back after his time in Buffalo and  along with the development of Malcolm Kelly and Campbell’s second year in the offense, we’re going to see more big plays. The Redskins and Jim Zorn are more committed to throwing the ball downfield this year which should free up more lanes for Clinton Portis with less men stacked up on the line.

While the Giants lost Plaxico Burress and Derrick Ward they picked up Chris Canty on defense and have a healthy Osi Umenyora this year. Remember in the NFC East, defenses can and often do carry the day. The Giants’ defensive line is deep and will keep the Giants in games, even though Eli Manning doesn’t have Plax to throw to. Also, the Giants have 7 WR’s on their 53 man roster. I can’t imagine them not being able to find someone to contribute. Whether it’s Hakeem Nicks the rookie, or Sinorice Moss, someone will step up and make plays for Manning and Coughlin.

The Cowboys are the ones that should be at the bottom of this list. T.O. was definitely a locker room problem but he also was a problem for opposing defenses. Had he lost a step last year? Probably. Drops? Lots. But losing a big, strong, still fast, physical receiver like Owens without having a replacement hurts Romo more than I think it hurts Eli Manning. Romo and the Cowboys running game is a bit more spotty than the Giants, with Barber providing some occasional big games but overall not really consistent. Wade Phillips is still one of the most incompetent coaches in the NFL with Jerry Jones as the most meddlesome and detrimental outside the city limits of Oakland. That means Cowboys struggle this year and questions about Tony Romo will be a major theme throughout the last half of the season.

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers

2. Minnesota Vikings

3.Chicago Bears

4. Detroit Lions

Aaron Rodgers is supposedly the next big thing as long as Ryan Grant stays healthy. I’ll buy that. Honestly, it’s a toss up for me between Minny and GB. Favre has the most amazing running back the league has seen in years and will have less pressure to win games by himself, but I still think they’ll have some problems this year with some untimely picks late in games (such as in NY when his shoulder was bothering him. Who knows if it will even hold up the whole year?).

Cutler is overrated and doesn’t have anyone to really throw to. Hester? There are only so many WR screens and quick slants that you can do in a game, right? I think Spurrier showed us that. I kind of just take joy out of putting Cutler and the Bears down here since it will be fun to see him blame everyone else this year.

Detroit is going to be better than last year (I know it’s tough to improve on perfection) but with a rookie qb, it’ll be difficult to take out their division opponents. I hope Jansen has a stellar year there though, their O-line will surely benefit from that pickup at least.

NFC West

1.San Francisco 49ers

2. Arizona Cardinals

3. Seattle Seahawks

4. St. Louis Rams

This is a shocker pick, I know. But San Fran is going to squeak out some wins this year and even though they are a young team, they have guts because of their coach. Singletary will be able to get Vernon Davis this year to play like he’s supposed to and if the qb situation can stay stable with Hill, his development begins. Frank Gore is still a force, and the ability to run the ball is what puts them over Arizona in my book.

As for Arizona, I love them but I don’t know if Kurt Warner will be able to go the whole year healthy. Who knows if Boldin can keep it together, too. If he can’t, you’ll see doubles on the human highlight machine that is Larry Fitzgerald. I’m not saying he can’t beat them, but it’ll be tougher unless Arizona develops a running game with either Hightower or their rookie back Wells (I know the hype on him is huge, but I’m not convinced till I see it in the regular season against the pro’s).

I don’t have much different to add to Mark’s comments on St. Louis and Seattle. Seattle added Edgerrin James this offseason so, we’ll see if that helps their running game but the only thing it shows me is that it’s a bit crowded and they must not have much confidence in Julius Jones to add him.

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints

2. Carolina Panthers

3. Atlanta Falcons

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Drew Brees is one of the most accurate quarterbacks of the league and overall one its most consistent players also. I’m a huge fan of  his. Players like Colston and Bush coming back from injury will clearly help and I think Shockey will finally have a breakout year again. I think the main difference with the Saints this year though is going to be their hiring of Gregg “double G” Williams for the defensive coordinator position. The Saints have been held back by pathetic D while Brees has been in town, and this year it should START to turn around.

Carolina, if healthy will beat Atlanta in this spot. Now, what’s the chance Carolina stays healthy? Not very good. If Donovan McNabb were a team, he’d be the Panthers probably.  But, Mark and I have to have some different picks right? I know Atlanta has Tony Gonzalez this year, an excellent running option with Turner but Carolina’s D > Atlanta’s D. Tampa is rebuilding, has a new coach and a lot of work to do till it gets back to when Dungy formed it as a super bowl contender (when Gruden took over).

Playoffs?!

1. Philadelphia Eagles

2. New Orleans Saints

3. San Francisco (or Arizona)

4. Green Bay

5. Washington 

6. Minnesota

What are your thoughts?  Who do you think will be a surprise in the NFC?  Who do you think wins the NFC [B]EAST?


2 Comments to “NFC Predictions part 2, Matt's Picks”

  • Matt September 24, 2009 at 5:24 PM

    Not bad Phil. I think you sensed the Giants were stronger than I did. I disagree with your Dallas spot because I think the Romo honeymoon is over this year. We’ll see how much the injury to Hasselback’s ribs bothers him this year. I don’t know that they can keep him healthy. I also think SF can win the division, Shaun Hill has to be just good enough and he can fit that role.

  • Phil September 18, 2009 at 3:16 AM

    Phil’s Unbiased NFC Predictions

    East
    1. NY Giants
    - Many people think the Giants fell off late in the season when they lost Plaxico (3-3 the last 6 games). In part, that may be true, but it also had to do with a late season drop in the defense, particularly in the area of sacks and turnovers. Enter into the picture DE Osi Umenyiora, along with newcomers DE Chris Canty and DT Rocky Bernard should help this team to stay fresh along the D-Line down the stretch.

    2- Dallas
    - Surprise Surprise, the Cowboys make the playoffs… With the 3 headed monster at RB (Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice), Dallas should become a feared running team, which will help Tony Romo set up the playaction he loves to do. Without Romo last year, the Brad Johnson led Cowboys led Dallas to a 1-2 record. While Romo was healthy, he led the Cowboys to an 8-5 record that included 3 losses by a combined 15 points. I’ve heard many people talk about how the loss of TO will hurt this team, and how Dallas doesn’t have a #1 WR…they do. He just happens to line up at TE.

    3- Philadelphia
    - The Eagles are a good team that should contend for the Super Bowl every season, but for some reason, they just never seem to be able to put it together. It’s going to be interesting to see how their defense responds to the loss of MLB Stewart Bradley (torn ACL), DC Jim Johnson (passed away), and S Brian Dawkins (signed with Denver during free agency). Ill they be the same type of aggressive, in your face defense they have been the last several years? But regardless of how their defense plays, this team goes as McNabb and Westbrook go, and the big question for them is…Can stay healthy?(which is a big IF for Westbook). If they can, they have the ability to compete for an NFC East title.

    4- Washington
    - This is a QB driven division, and I just feel like the Redskins have the 4th best QB in the division. The Skins are also a team who usually plays up or down to their competition. Last season, they won 3 games they should not have won (@Dal, @Phi, and vs. Phi), but then they lost at home to the Rams, @Cin and @SF…and they needed a Santana Moss punt return for TD to beat the Lions. Statistically, they were the 4th best in the league last year, but that ranking is very decevining, because they were near the bottom of the league in sacks and forced turnovers. That’s where Big Al and Orakpo should help this team. Washington has a very favorable first half of the schedule with a stretch games (vs. Stl, @ Det, vs. TB, @Car, and vs. KC) but coming off their bye week, they have @Atl, vs. Den, @Dal, @Phi, vs. NO @Oak, vs. NYG, vs. Dal @SD. If they can go 3-3 in their division, and win the games their supposed to, they should be able to compete for a WC spot, maybe even the NFC East title.

    North
    1. Minnesota
    - Preseason pick for NFL MVP would be Adrian Peterson. If the Vikings can win 10 games with Tavaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte in 2008, and assuming that the “Williams Wall” does not miss much time to a possible suspension, I don’t see any reason as to why the Adrian Peterson led Vikings (Sorry Brett) can’t win 12 games.

    2. Green Bay
    - When people say there’s not much separating 6-10 from 10-6, they were talking about the 2008 Packers when they lost 7 games by 4 points or less. With arguably one of the best receving corps in the game, I think that this year is where Aaron Rodgers enters the league of elite QBs.

    3. Chicago
    - Jay Cutler may be a good QB, but he doesn’t have the offensive line he had in Denver or WRs like Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal to throw to, so I would expect his numbers to take a dip. The bright side for Chicago is they have one of the best young RBs in the league in Matt Forte, so if he can improve upon his 1200 yd 8td rookie season, and if Cutler can eliminate the bad turnovers, the Bears have an opportunity to compete for a wild card.

    4. Detroit
    - The future looks bright with Stafford, Smith, Johnson, and Pettigrew, but the future is not now.

    South
    1. New Orleans
    - The 2008 New Orleans Saints finished 8-8, losing 6 of 8 games by 5 points or fewer. Enter in Gregg Williams, which you would think would help improve their defense. Also, with a healthy Reggie Bush and Marques Colston this season, I think that this is the year where Drew Brees finally breaks Dan Marino’s passing record.

    2. Atlanta
    - It was a toss up between Atlanta and New Orleans, but I had to go with the veteran Drew Brees as the tiebreaker in this case. TE Tony Gonzalez will definitely help Ryan avoid the sophmore slump, but with tough road games including @ NE, @ Dal, @ NYG, I feel as though they may have a loss or two more than New Orleans.

    3. Carolina
    - How would you like to be Jake Delhomme? You play the worst game of your life at almost the biggest stage in professional football…and you get a contract extension? The Panthers have a great running game in Williams and Stewart and a solid defense led by Peppers, but I just have a feeling that with a tough schedule against the defenses of the NFC East and AFC East, it doesn’t bode well for Delhomme and the Panthers.

    4. Tampa Bay
    - Not only is TB rebuilding, but the schedule makers did them no favor in 2009, with road games @ Was, @Phi, @Sea, and home games vs. NE, Dal, GB, and the Giants.

    West
    Seattle
    - A healthy Matt Hasslebeck goes a long way in the weakest conference in the NFC. Add that with Housmandzadeh and an up and coming TE in John Carlson, I believe the Seahawks win the NFC West.

    San Francisco
    - The Mike Singletary led 49ers are definitely a team to watch this season, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the 49ers win this division. With road games @Min, @GB, @Ind, and @Phi, I just don’t know if former MD QB Shaun Hill has what it takes to win games for the Niners.
    Arizona
    - You know the history of Super Bowl losing teams…they rarely make the playoffs the following year, and I feel as the Cardinals will continue that trend. It’s no secret that Arizona plays better at home. Last season, when the Cardinals played teams outside their division on the road, they were 0-5. Of note this season, they play @Jac, @Chi @NYG, and @Ten, with tough home games vs. Ind, GB, and Min. And until they can show they can 1) have a consistent running game (I like Beanie Wells, but he was oft-injured at Ohio St.) to go with their passing game, and 2) win tough road games, in my mind, it’s still hard to take them seriously.
    St. Louis
    - Steve Spagnuolo may be a successful coach, but he just does not have the talent in St. Louis like he did with the G-Men.

    Predictions
    1. Minnesota
    2. NY Giants
    3. New Orleans
    4. Seattle
    5. Dallas
    6. Green Bay

    Championship Game—-Vikings over Giants

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