2011 NFL Preview: NFC

It’s Part II of my 2011 NFL Preview – enter the NFC.

Heeeere we go…

NFC East

  1. Eagles (11-5)
  2. Cowboys (10-6)
  3. Giants (8-8)
  4. Redskins (2-14)

ANAL-ysis:  The Eagles are the NFL’s answer to the Miami Heat.  They have signed a who’s who of players on defense and offense, and are looking to cash in on a Super Bowl run this season.  The problem is, they signed the wrong type of players.  The Eagles are still green up the middle on defense, especially their linebackers.  Philly’s offensive line is so bad, I’d be surprised if Michael Vick makes it through half the season without getting hurt.  Fortunately for Philly, it’s good enough to win this division.

As much as it hurts to type this, the Cowboys are moving in the right direction (I just threw up in my mouth).  Jason Garrett is a no-nonsense type of guy, and the man is what Dallas needed to change their culture.  If defensive coordinator Rob Ryan turns this defense around, the Cowboys could challenge for the division crown.  Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes down to the final two weeks of the season.

The Giants are beyond snake-bitten.  They lost both of their starting cornerbacks to injury, and a starting linebacker to boot.  If that wasn’t bad enough, New York lost one of their best pass catchers to the rival Eagles.  Eli Manning had a “turrible” year last season, and will need to improve if they have a chance at a playoff spot.  And they need to do so, because coach Tom Coughlin would be out of a job if the fail to make the playoffs this season.

The Redskins are a mess.  Their quarterback situation is a mess (if Jon Beck and Rex Grossman are the answers, then what the hell were the questions?).  Their alleged defense is a mess (ranked dead friggin’ last statistically in 2010).  Who in the hell do they have on offense that puts fear in other defenses?  The only thing that fans should get excited about is if the Redskins finish ahead of the Bengals in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes…

NFC North

  1. Packers (12-4)
  2. Lions (10-6) *
  3. Bears (8-8)
  4. Vikings (7-9)

ANAL-ysis:  The Packers should be sitting pretty this season.  When they beat my Steelers in last season’s Super Bowl, they did so with 13 players on injured reserve.  Now they get those 13 players back – talk about the rich getting richer.  QB Aaron Rodgers will have a monster year, and their defense will be better with those injured players back contributing.  Forget the Eagles, the Packers are the REAL dream team in the NFC.

I cannot believe I am about to type this: the Detroit Lions are going to be a playoff team this season.  That’s right, folks.  The Lions have a certain nastiness about them, and I love it.  DT Ndamukong Suh is a beast, and is the epitome of a nasty defensive stud.  As long as QB Matthew Stafford stays healthy, Detroit will go places – and one of those places is the playoffs.

The Bears have too many question marks to repeat last season’s success.  Will their depleted offensive line protect QB Jay Cutler?  Will they miss TE Greg Olsen (traded to the Panthers)?  Will their defensive, sans last season’s depth, maintain the same intensity from last season?  Will Cutler build on last season’s success?  All of those questions lead to a .500 season.

The Vikings are a team in transition.  Newly acquired QB Donovan McNabb will be asked to help carry the load on offense, led by stud RB Adrian Peterson.  What makes matters worse is their defense is just plain old.  Aside from DE Jared Allen, who the hell scares other offenses?  Unless McNabb is truly motivated from last season’s debacle in Washington, this team will not escape the division basement.  I think that will be the case.

NFC South: The best division in football.

  1. Saints (12-4)
  2. Falcons (11-5) *
  3. Buccaneers (9-7)
  4. Panthers (7-9)

ANAL-ysis:  This is division is the badass of the badass in the NFL.  It’s SEC-like in that three of its teams are serious playoff contenders.  The Saints, Falcons and Buccaneers have the ability to make some serious noise in the NFC.

New Orleans and Atlanta made some moves that not only improve their teams, but as an answer to both teams’ playoff losses last season.  New Orleans made some acquisitions to improve their running game in defense via the draft, while the Falcons gave up the farm for the right to draft WR Julio Jones to improve its stagnant passing game.  While the Saints’ moves should take them to the top of the division, the Falcons still need to improve its mediocre defense.  That alone will prevent Atlanta from repeating as NFC South champs.

The Bucs are an intriguing squad.  The team is so damn young that most of the team have not reached puberty.  QB Josh Freeman is a stud who will improve upon his breakout 2010 season.  RB LeGarrette Blount will bruise his way to an 1,000-yard season.  TE Kellen “Private” Winslow will continue to be Freeman’s safety valve.  Unfortunately, the Bucs play in the NFC South.  Tampa will be a better team this season, but their record will not reflect it.

The Panthers are going to surprise some people.  I think they will not be as bad as people think.  Carolina re-signed RB DeAngelo Williams, DE Charles Johnson, and should have a healthier offensive line this season.  I think QB Cam Newton will be special in this league.  He will, like other rookie QBs, struggle.  However, Newton is a hard worker who will only get better with time.  The real weak link is the defense.  It looked terrible a couple of weeks ago in Cincinnati.  The Bengals’ 1st team piled up yards and drove at will on the Panthers’ 1st team defense.  Having said that, the future is bright in Carolina.

NFC West: by far the worst division in football.  Playoff berths should be banned from this division.

  1. Cardinals (9-7)
  2. Rams (8-8)
  3. 49ers (5-11)
  4. Seahawks (3-13)

ANAL-ysis:  This division is so God-awful, I’m not going to waste a lot of time talking about it.  Aside from Arizona’s Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald and St. Louis’ Sam Bradford and RB Steven Jackson, this division is so devoid of offensive talent.  I mean, what the hell are they doing in Seattle and San Francisco?  Tavaris Jackson and Alex Smith (respectfully)?  Really?  I’ll tell you what, if there is another sub-.500 playoff participant from this division, the NFL needs some serious rule changes to its playoffs.

What an awful division…

* – denotes wild card team

NFC Champion: Green Bay Packers

Super Bowl Champion: San Diego Chargers

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