Friday, September 3, 2010

Your Almost Assuredly Worthless NFC Season Predictions

Last year, I had the Saints going to the Super Bowl... where they were going to lose to the Patriots. Well, so much for pristine prognostication. But after a month of reading every annual I can get my hands on, staring down nerd sites, considering schedule strength and injury history... well, it's still a coin flip with rigged coins. But it's the best game in town, especially when you consider the payoff.

NFC East

Dallas 11-5
Washington 10-6
New York 8-8
Philadelphia 7-9

The tightest division in football spends another year beating each other senseless, preventing any club from a top 2 seed, and ensuring that none of them finish the year strong enough to make a deep run. The interesting part about this year is that the two teams that will be on top actually have the worst long-term outlook, as the Cowboys are a single injury away from having a terrible offensive line, and the Skins are built around a ton of aging talent and a coach that might not be up to it anymore.

The Giants have exceptional weapons but a shaky line, and I don't think they are going to get to the QB enough on defense to cover for a surprisingly mediocre secondary. As for my home town team, they're going to turn it over too much to win the close games, and the defense is a year of hard experience away from being very good. But in the long run, you have to take a step back to take three steps forward.

NFC North

Green Bay 13-3
Minnesota 8-8
Chicago 6-10
Detroit 4-12

The Packers are going to run away with this surprisingly weak division, masking a suspect defense with a track meet on offense. Aaron Rodgers is my early and not very surprising pick for the conference MVP, and it really just comes down to whether he decides to make TE Jermichael Finley the #1 option in the league at his position, whether he'll make WR Greg Jennings a monster again, or whether it will be one of those WRBC routines. I'm betting the latter, which one last big payoff year from RB Ryan Grant, and a division that's clinched by Thanksgiving.

As for the rest... there's really nothing that hs gone well for Minnesota for the last six months. WR Sidney Rice will miss at least half of the year, QB Brett Favre is already hobbling, WR Percy Harvin keeps having debilitating migraines and RB Chester Taylor is gone, leaving the whole running game in the hands of Adrian Peterson. Which means that the Vikes are in real danger of being a turnover machine, and that even if they do win a bunch of games early, AP will be spent by the end of the year. There is still a ton of talent here, and His Favreness isn't going to go back to 20+ INT years, but there's an awful lot not to like here.

Chicago, I just don't get. Why do people give Mike Martz the genius title, even though he's spent most of the past few years not turning around Detroit or San Fran? The scheme is going to get QB Jay Cutler killed, there's no backup of any note at all, and the defense, while talented, will have to learn by doing. This isn't going to be pretty.

Just a game back in the loss column will be the Lions, for whom four wins would have to be considered very encouraging. I love the rookie RB (Jahvid Best) but remain indifferent at best to QB Matthew Stafford, and the job that Matt Millen did to this franchise isn't going to be cleansed just yet. Give them another year or two, and they should be fine.

NFC South

Atlanta 11-5
New Orleans 10-6
Carolina 7-9
Tampa 5-11

Atlanta gets that third year boost from QB Matt Ryan, and a very solid bounce-back year from RB Michael Turner. They'll win the division despite the fact that the Saints will remain very good, and both teams will pound on the bottom feeding Panthers and Bucs. On talent, this might be the best division that no one knows about, but that's what happens when every team in the division gets a run in the top spot every year...

NFC West

San Francisco 9-7
Arizona 7-9
Seattle 6-10
St. Louis 4-12

The worst division in football actually gets a little better this year, but not terribly, mostly because the Rams are going to win more than one game this year. Woo! Had Kurt Warner avoided retirement, the Cards would win in a walk, but now that they are in the business of trying to convince the world that Derek Anderson is a starter... well, it's not exactly making Larry Fitzgerald's owners any happier.

I'll get to the AFC later in the weekend. Feel free to comment, but I might not publish it right away...

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