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NFL

2011 NFL Preview – NFC

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Predicted Order of Finish for 2011 NFC East

Rank

Team

Finish

Comment

1

Philadelphia Eagles

 

 

12-4

 

2nd in NFC

 

The so called “Dream Team” is pretty loaded, but thinking of them as a super team is a bit overstated. Michael Vick is a dynamic weapon on offense, but has yet to prove himself to be a winner. He couldn’t be in any better position; he has offensive weapons for days in DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, etc. The defense was upgraded across the board and should cause headaches for opposing teams and the addition of Nnamdi Asomugha gives them one of the deepest secondaries in football. Anything less than a Super Bowl will be a letdown to Philly fans… unfortunately I just don’t see it in the cards this year.

2

Dallas Cowboys

 

 

 

10-6

 

5th in NFC*

 

Count me as one of the believers of the Dallas Cowboys this year. I think Tony Romo is ready to take the next step in his career and will be aided by a big year from Miles Austin. Dez Bryant is as dynamic of an athlete as there is in the NFL and if he can stay healthy should tear it up. Felix Jones gets the chance to be the man and should take advantage of the opportunity. Still all is not perfect in Big D. Their offensive line struggles at times to protect Romo and their defense is coming off an absolutely dreadful year. Rob Ryan should turn the defense around, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

3

New York Giants

 

 

7-9

T-10th in NFC

The Giants are falling apart on defense and their offense isn’t a whole lot better. Eli Manning is one step below elite. The same can be said for offensive weapons Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks. They should score, but not quite at a high enough level to win a ton of games considering the defensive injuries. The G-men will be alright, but inconsistent.

4

Washington Redskins

 

 

5-11

 

T-13th in NFC

Mike Shanahan is starting to become your genius uncle who no one can figure out. He went through the preseason with a QB battle for the ages in Rex Grossman vs John Beck. He truly believes he can win with these guys, and while that’s all well and good, should’ve upgraded the position. Winning a few games with lesser players shows how smart you are, but getting better players and winning playoff games is more important to the fans. Is Shanahan just concerned with getting 6 wins out of bad QBs to show that he’s really smart? Sadly for Redskins fans, that’s what it looks like.

 

Predicted Order of Finish for 2011 NFC South

Rank

Team

Finish

Comment

1

New Orleans Saints

 

 

11-5

 

3rd in NFC

 

Another elite QB with a chip on his shoulder returns and looks hungry. Drew Brees was not happy to be embarrassed in the playoffs by a team with more losses than wins. He looks better than ever and has a solid offense around him to put up points in bunches. I think their defense is very much improved and should be able to dictate the game to lesser offenses and hang in games against better ones. Health is a factor, but the Saints are dangerous and hungry.

2

Atlanta Falcons

 

 

 

10-6

 

6th in NFC*

Atlanta, fresh off a 13-3 season where they beat up on bottom-feeders hopes to return to the playoffs this season. They have a solid offense that got better with the addition of Julio Jones. Their defense got shredded by Aaron Rodgers and while it looks deeper, doesn’t look a whole lot better. Still a good squad but doesn’t look ready to hang with the Packers, Eagles, and Saints.

3

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

 

8-8

 

T-7th in NFC

 

The Bucs are a media-darling this season. They see the 9-7 record from a year ago and think this team is ready to take the next step. I see a young offense with a huge question mark at running back in LeGarette Blount. The former Oregon Duck has a lot of supporters, I’m just not one of them. He can’t catch the ball, which makes him all but worthless when the team is trailing. Added to that, I don’t see him any more than a good, change of pace, backup. This is a team with a good foundation, but still not ready for the big time.

4

Carolina Panthers

 

 

4-12

 

T-15th

in NFC

#1 overall pick Cam Newton gets the reigns to the worst team in football. The team was decimated with injuries last season, but still suffer from a serious lack of talent issue. They overpaid for Charles Johnson, but he should still be a good pro. Aside from him, they are littered with holes that will take time to shore up. Best case scenario, Cam Newton lives up to the hype and they are set at QB, worst case, they are 2-14 and faced with an immediate crossroads decision in Newton or Luck.

 

Predicted Order of Finish for 2011 NFC North

Rank

Team

Finish

Comment

1

Green Bay Packers

 

 

13-3

 

1st in NFC

 

The World Champs are back and look more ready to defend their title than any team in recent memory. Perhaps the lockout, and being away from the game, helped them avoid the Super Bowl hangover. Whatever the case, their offense is nearly unstoppable. I say nearly, because if Aaron Rodgers goes down, they are in serious trouble. Their passing game is precisely tuned with back shoulder timing routes across the board. A QB switch would all but spell doom for the Pack. They are strong on D, maybe not as strong as last year, but their offense is even better. When the Pack are rolling, I’m not sure they can be stopped… at least legally.

2

Detroit Lions

 

 

 

9-7

 

T-7th in NFC

Another team who’s success hinges on the health of their QB. I’m a big Matt Stafford fan, but he has a pretty checkered injury past. If he stays healthy, he has enough weapons to lead a fairly high powered offense to a winning record. The offense, combined with future a defense that boasts defensive player of the year Ndamukong Suh, newly drafted Nick Fairley, and a moderately upgraded secondary should mean a winning record in the D for the first time in a while.

3

Chicago Bears

 

 

8-8

 

9th in NFC

 

A surprise team from a year ago enters this season with a few more question marks. Most notably, two of their best players (RB Matt Forte and LB Lance Briggs) are unhappy with their contract situation. Secondly, their major additions on offense (Roy Williams and Marion Barber) are trending downward in a big way. Still, the Bears are a pretty good team. Super Bowl good? No, but they should be in the hunt for a playoff spot all year long.

4

Minnesota Vikings

 

 

6-10

 

11th in NFC

The Vikings are almost in the exact same position as the Titans, rebuilding around an elite back through means of a veteran QB brought in to tutor a 1st round pick. In Minnesota’s case, the QB is always-underappreciated Donovan McNabb and the RB is the best in the game, Adrian Peterson. The rest of the offense aside from WR Percy Harvin is in flux, while the defense has some playmakers, but not enough to push for a playoff spot.

 

Predicted Order of Finish for 2011 NFC West

Rank

Team

Finish

Comment

1

St. Louis Rams

 

 

9-7

 

4th in NFC

 

The NFC West is without question the worst division in the league. So bad, that last year’s champion finished at 7-9… despite playing 6 games against the other teams in the division. This year, the Rams are trending upward and could very well state their case as a legit playoff team for years to come. QB Sam Bradford looks like the real deal and now has one of the best QB coaches in the world in Josh McDaniels working with him. RB Steven Jackson is getting older, but still a force and they brought in a bunch of weapons at WR for Bradford to utilize. The defense is still a few players away from being dominant, but they should be better.

2

Arizona Cardinals

 

 

 

7-9

 

T-10th in NFC

After last year’s merry-go-round of misfit QBs, the Cardinals gave up quite a lot to acquire Kevin Kolb from the Eagles. Kolb is raw, but has flashed enough in his limited action to warrant the high bounty. I expect Beanie Wells to be better, and any offense with Larry Fitzgerald is dangerous. Their main issue is on defense… it’s bad. They have taken a few steps to shore things up, but the defense still looks pretty bad. 7-9 might be a bit optimistic, but they are clearly better than the bottom two teams in the division at this point.

3

Seattle Seahawks

 

 

5-11

 

T-13th in NFC

 

There are a lot of horrible starting QBs in the league this year. Very surprising, given that it’s the most important position in all of sports. The Seahawks have decided to trot Tavaris Jackson out there to lead the squad. Jackson was bad when he had Adrian Peterson and actual weapons, I can’t imagine how poorly he’s going to do with a fairly abysmal Seahawk offense. I wouldn’t put it past Pete Carroll to tank the season to acquire Andrew Luck and stick it to Jim Harbaugh, who famously ran the score up on him at USC. If Carroll starts Tavaris for all 16, there can be no other rationale.

4

San Francisco 49ers

 

 

4-12

 

T-15th in NFC

New coach Jim Harbaugh looks like a perfect fit in the NFL and he jumped at the opportunity when it was presented. Still, he inherits a pretty bad team with a colossal bust of a QB in Alex Smith. They have weapons in Frank Gore, Braylon Edwards, Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree, but I don’t know how Alex Smith can be counted on to deliver the ball in the correct spots. On defense, Patrick Willis is one of the best defensive players in the league, but he’s about all they have on that side of the ball. Donte Whitner should help, but you cant play with only 4-5 legit defensive starters in this league.

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