As promised, your 2009 NFC Preview. Brett Favre, Ricky Rubio, Matty Ice, Politicians, it’s all right here. If you missed the AFC Preview, click here for the lowdown. As a courtesy, please read the entire post before yelling “You Lie!!” loudly at your computer. Your cooperation is appreciated. Now for the good stuff…
NFC West (aka the “National League”)
- Yeh, yeh, yeh, the Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl. Touching story. They won’t make the playoffs this year. Matt Hasselbeck, however, will lead the Seattle Seahawks back to the postseason. While reaching the playoffs is a fine accomplishment, the luster of doing so is lost when you look at the competition: 49ers, Cardinals, Rams. Ok, the Cardinals are legit, but the 49ers and Rams are equivalent to the National League’s Pirates and Nationals, respectively.
- Cardinals finish second by default. Kurt Warner’s age/health makes me nervous and I’m still not a believer in their defense. Larry Fitz is as good as done after week 6 (if it even takes that long for the Madden curse to attack). Torn ACL? Broken leg? My money is on a nagging sports hernia. Update: Madden Curse already bit Troy Polamalu on Thursday night.
- While some of their draft picks are disastrous, (Alex Smith, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree anyone?), the 49ers do have some young talent. MLB Patrick Willis is a monster and Frank Gore is effective WHEN healthy. Unfortunately, their QB play is as consistent as Brett Favre’s retirement plans.
- The Rams are a few years away from coming off the mat, but Steve Spagnuolo will bring them back to respectability. That’s about it. No big deal though. With Albert Pujols and the Cards in the playoffs, no one will pay attention until mid-late October.
DWC’s Take: Cardinals (will not repeat as Champs of NFC, but division will make it easy), Seahawks (if Hasselbeck stays healthy they may threaten, but the running is a question), 49ers (Qb is an issue, but the defense will be good), Rams (Spags will revitalize the defense, but they are still nowhere near good enough)
- SI.com’s Peter King gushes about the greatness of the NFC North. It’s hard to argue with him but I still think the NFC East & AFC South are slightly better. With Brett Favre making his return to the division, it’s only fitting that the Packers take home the crown. Maybe Wisconsin will even name a cheese after Favre because he’s old and stinks.
- One through three here is a tough call. I’m putting Daaa Bears second because they have the best quarterback they’ve had in decades, and I have a man crush on Matt Forte.
- In my opinion, the addition of Favre does not make the Vikings significantly better or worse. The media adores Favre and consequently elevated the Vikes to Super Bowl contenders. I’m not buying. The defense is impressive, but the QB’s are unreliable and turnover machines. Always a bad equation for playoff aspirations. No worries, Minnesota. Ricky Rubio will entertain on the hardwood all winter long…oops, too soon?
- The Detroit Lionesses have nowhere to go but up. Let’s look at when that elusive first victory will come: @NO-no, MINN-no, WASH-no, @CHI-no, PITT-no, @GB-no, BYE week, STL-ding, ding, ding! After a 22 month, one week hiatus, victory returns to Detroit. Will they have a parade or settle for a rally at city hall? (I actually think this could happen in week 2, but I’m too nervous to commit.)
DWC’s Take: Packers (Aaron Rogers will be better in his 2nd year and their defense is ready), Vikings (solid defense and the best RB equals a good year as long as BF keeps the ball in the arms of people wearing purple jerseys), Bears (Cutler now has no one to throw too and the defense is aging), Lions (will win more than they did last year) Wildcard: Vikings
- A very tricky division to pick. I like the Panthers here for three reasons. 1. That running back tandem shouldn’t be allowed on one team. 2. Even without the injured Ma’ake Kemoeatu, the Panthers defense will bounce back from a sub-par year (for their standards). 3. Steve Smith is the best player in the division, hands down.
- Saints or Falcons? Saints or Falcons? Saints or Falcons? Uhhh…Saints! With the return of a healthy Marques Colston, the offense will be very tough to stop. As will any offense that lines up against that Saints defense. Unbalanced squad in Nawlins = no postseason. Remember when the Texans drafted Mario Williams over Reggie Bush? Idiots, I bet they regret that pick (rolling my eyes). P.S. I do think Bush will have a productive year.
- I can’t see the Falcons re-creating their success from 2008. Their schedule is tougher and I never trust quarterbacks who are primed for a sophomore slump. Question: Should Matt Ryan be offended that people refer to him as “Matty Ice?” Last I checked, nicknaming your friend, “Cheap Piss” never goes over well.
- After John Gruden stole Tony Dungy’s Super Bowl, the Buccaneers have accomplished very little. Can you even name five significant playmakers on that team? Me neither. And you’re crazy if you think Antonio Bryant will be as good in 2009 as he was in 2008. Crazy.
DWC’s Take: Falcons (last year was no fluke and they will overcome the defensive questions because Tony Gonzalez makes them more explosive), Saints (their offense is head and shoulders above the rest of the league, and Greg Williams will fix the defense), Panthers (enough talent to take the division, but the defense still looks like the one we saw in the last 4 weeks of the 08 season), Bucs (Too many QB’s and not enough talent, plus an aging defense)
- The creme de la creme of the NFL. Yes, the AFC South & NFC North are closing in, but these teams are just plain dirty. Picking a division winner here is tough. Here’s why I pick the Giants. They play both San Diego and Carolina at home (where as the Eagles play both away). Their uncertainty (WR core) is less significant than the Eagles’ uncertainties (changes on D, cohesion on O-Line). As long as the G-Men don’t shoot themselves in the leg, I mean foot (sorry, couldn’t resist), they should win the division title, barely.
- Despite the aforementioned concerns, the Birds are solid top to bottom. McNabb has the weapons he’s always lobbied for; now he needs to win. The defense will settle in come mid-October as will the Offensive Line. This will be the team opponents want to avoid later in the year. (If that third sentence is not realized, please replace it, and sentence four, with, “The Flyers have real potential,” or “Sixers are headed for the lottery.” Thanks)
- That bright light coming from Texas is not a star. It’s Jerry Jones’ 160 foot HDTV. That very well could be the only thing worth celebrating this year in Dallas. The Cowboys are good, but won’t see the postseason. Even Jerry’s new TV can’t make that look good.
- If the Redskins played in another division, they would get more respect and probably more victories. But in reality, their play reflects their location: Spend a ton of money, make promises, generate hope, and in the end, accomplish very little. Just another season for the Washington Politici…I mean Redskins.
DWC’s Take: Giants (Osi is back so the defense will be tough, but WR might be an issue), Eagles (it all depends on Westbrook and McNabb’s mental stability, but the loss of Bradley hurts bad), Cowboys (the loss of TO is a plus, but replacing him with Roy Williams is not), Redskins (they are a mess and adding Haynesworth will not solve their problems) Wildcard: Eagles
- New York Giants
- Green Bay Packers
- Carolina Panthers
- Seattle Seahawks
Wild Card: Eagles and Bears