Saturday, September 01, 2007

NFC North Preview

NFC North Preview

Chicago *
Green Bay

I think that is a pretty standard call for this division. I guess some people think the Lions will break out like the 1999 Rams with all those receivers they drafted, but this division looks pretty laid out…

Chicago –
Rex Grossman starting the year off hot last year only made that crash down that much harder. He was a victim of his own success. I don’t think he has played long enough to have a definitive opinion of him, and he has done some things right, but I don’t believe he will ever be an elite player. I wasn’t a fan of his footwork, pocket presence, height, size, toughness. He took too many chances. It wasn’t “good rex/bad rex”, it was gambles paying off, gambles not paying off.

I thought Thomas Jones was underrated running the ball last year. Benson wasn’t bad statistically when he played, and hopefully he can keep it up. The Bears need that stable running game to help support their defense and quarterback.

The defense was outstanding last year, but not when Tommy Harris was hurt. He is probably the most skillful Defensive Tackle in the NFL and he is a game changer. There might be bigger guys who play the run better, but I can’t think of a better all around Tackle off the top of my head, when you consider quickness, strength, controlling the man in front of him etc. There was a play in the Arizona game last year where he blew back his man 5 yards instantly and almost pushed the guard right into his quarterback. That freakish strength and quickness is just something you don’t see every day.

Devon Hestor won’t score as many touchdowns this year, the defense will probably regress at least some, and who know what the injury bug has for the team this year. The defense and special teams carried them last year, they should still win the division as Lovie Smith is a good Head Coach and the defense was sick at creating turnovers last year. People will probably be out for Rex Grossmans head like an angry mob as they will want Lovie to put in Brian Gresie. I still think they win the NFC north and having 4 games against Minnesota and Detroit should help their record.

Green Bay –
I had a small bet at 100/1 on Tennessee and Green Bay last year because 100/1 is for real crap teams, and Green Bay had Brett Favre in a weak division. All they had to do was make the playoffs, and I could have started hedging. Green Bay finished 8-8, but that was only because they had 4 easy games at the end of the year. They were a 4-8 team, with a real easy schedule at the end of the year. I don’t think the Packers are a good team, but Minnesota and Detroit are really not good.

Detroit –
Every year, the fantasy football minded fans will pick the Lions to be a sleeper team. You hear it every year. All of those receivers Matt Millen has been drafting for the last half decade, will finally come together and the Lions will equal the 1999 rams.

I think they could be real good at fantasy football. They have a good offensive coordinator, Kitna is capable, they should be a good passing team, with a bad defense, a turf field, and they should be losing a lot of games which = garbage yards and more passing stats.

I don’t like the defense at all, and I don’t like their coach. They want to run the cover 2, but they don’t have the personnel. The cover 2 is a basic vanilla defense that works if you are stacked with talent (especially a solid front 4 pass rush). Having to bring in backup defensive ends from Tampa Bay as the big free agent fish isn’t going to solve their pass rush woes.

I don’t like their GM Matt Millen, I don’t like their coach, and I don’t like how he hired a family member as their defensive coordinator. What happens if the defense sucks ( as they should?) Will he fire the family member? Rod Marinelli was brought in to add toughness to this team… this team needs more than just toughness and the guy doesn’t strike me as being particularly bright. I don’t like the idea in general of bringing in a D-line coach as a head coach, and Marinelli doesn’t impress me. It sounds like Matt Millen was so hyped into bringing in “toughness”, that he brings in Marinelli and thinks the whole team will instantly be better. I would pick the Lions as last in the North, but then again there is Minnesota. I don’t like the head coaches in Detroit or Minnesota, the only reason I picked Detroit ahead of Minnesota is because Mike Martz offense will be better than the Vikings defense which lost Mike Tomlin.

Until further Analysis, I see the Vikings as potentially the worst team in the NFC.
- I don’t like their quarterback at all. Tavaras Jackson had a sub 55% completion percentage in D1AA football. He transferred to D1AA because he couldn’t beat out Matt Jones at quarterback while at Arkansas. Nothing against Matt Jones, but if he couldn’t cut it at QB in the NFL… and Jackson couldn’t beat him out…

I didn’t like Jacksons footwork, accuracy, and he is said to be mobile, but no more mobile than a David Garrard or a David Carr. He actually moves more like Garrard. The guy looked terrible in games last year. He got outscored by his defense in the Green Bay game, and threw a pick 6 in the Rams game and got blown out there.

The defense won’t be historically good against the run next year. They lost their defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin to the Steelers. Teams just passed against them because they had no pass rush, and they really do have 2 beast defensive tackles. The Williams boys in the middle would rival Stroud and Henderson in Jacksonville as the best pair of Defensive tackles. Their ends were weak though. How the hell do you start all 16 games and not record a sack? The home games were on turf and on a faster field and the team still couldn’t pressure quarterbacks. It doesn’t matter who you have on your back 7, if you give opposing quarterbacks time, you will lose.

I don’t really like Brad Childress and can’t see this team doing much next year. If they went to the playoffs, I would consider it a major surprise. I would have loved to play the under 7.5, but I believe the projected win total dropped.

Also, don’t forget this team started out 4-2 with Brad Johnson before fading last year. I don’t see a 4-2 start next year, and Tavaras Jackson should be one of the worst starters in the league next year.

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