Lately I have been worrying a little bit about Kevin Kolb. I am not entirely sold on the fact that he can lead this team to a division title, as they were so reliant on the pass last year. Kolb is going to throw the ball a hell of a lot, but I worry due to the fact that he has never done anything close to what he is going to have to do this season. For some reassurance, I contacted my friend KD to see what he had to say on the Eagles. Like most Eagles fans, KD likes to talk about the Eagles. And talk and talk:
"I think they will be decent but nothing amazing.Look at a year they had last year...its gonna be around the same record just with a new QB. Kolb just has to get the ball to playmakers like Jackson and they'll score points...They're still gonna pass 90% of the time, McCoy can only be so good...They are gonna throw a lot of screens...And make sure you aren't nice to McNabb in your article".
The problem I have with the Eagles is this "pass 90% of the time" and "score in 4 plays or less" mantra they seemed to have last year. They probably will not be able to that again. But I feel if Kolb plays good, and their always stellar defense shows up, this should be a team to look out for.
2. Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
The bandwagon for this team left the station in about May, but I did not board with everyone else. This team will score points, there is no doubt about that. But they are one Felix Jones or Marion Barber injury away from relying solely on the pass, and I am not sure the Cowboys receivers other than Miles Austin are ready for that. Their defense is average at best. I do think if this team should stay healthy, they will be good. Tony Romo is far better than people give him credit for. It just falls back on the injury issue.
3. New York Giants (8-8)
This team could be a lot worse. Why do I even have them winning 8 wins, if I am not sure they can even get there? Other than Ahmad Bradshaw, they have no discernible game-breakers on offense. Their receiving CORPS is really reliant on a bunch of second-year guys. The defense does not really seem to have an identity, which sums up the Giants. There is no identity for this team. You are not really sure if they are a passing team, a running team, or a defense team, which is not necessarily a good thing. A team that does not know what it is or what it should be usually has trouble winning games.
4. Washington Redskins (5-11)
If the Raiders are considered to be better off with Jason Campbell as their quarterback, and the Redskins are considered to be better off with Donavan McNabb as their quarterback, shouldn't the Redskins be better than the (supposedly) 7-9 Raiders? Not really. For starters, the Redskins do not have the luxury of playing in the AFC West. They also will have some kind of ugly, mutant running back combo which will include either Larry Johnson, Willie Parker and Clinton Portis, all three who are past their prime. It would be like filming a movie today with Ralph Macchio and Tara Reid. Guys who had lots of potential previously, but just lost it due to overexposure and just being plain annoying. And the movie would probably go straight-to-DVD. So I do not like the Redskins, is what I'm basically saying.
1. Green Bay Packers (12-4)
I love this team. Really, I do. It was not just their 59 point outburst they had this preseason against the Colts, but a collection of things. They can score probably better than anybody in this league. They provide the most formidable receiving corps since New England's 2007 explosion. Their defense is "eh" at best but the offense will keep them in every single game. If you want to beat the Packers, you are going to have to score at least 30, and that is something Packers fans have not heard in about ten years. I also like their running back Ryan Grant a lot, and he gives the Packers a lot of depth on the offense side of the ball. It will be a huge year for the Packers in a division that seems to be getting worse and worse every single day.
2. Minnesota Vikings (9-7)
Can't you see Brett Favre pulling a GOB Bluth after he heard that Sidney Rice would be out eight weeks? "I've made a huge mistake". Not only that, but Percy Harvin cannot think clearly, and now Javon Walker has been brought in to save the franchise. That last part was not a joke. Their defense is getting old, including the 74 year old Williams brothers anchoring the defensive line. Depending on where you stand, that anchor reference could be good or bad. But still, when you have Adrian Peterson, you will still win football games. Even if Brett Favre plays the season on one good foot and one disgusting foot with his ankle the size of LeBron James' ego, that should still be good for a couple of wins. The injuries kill this team, probably worse than any one in the NFL.
3. Chicago Bears (7-9)
Another team where I say to my self, "Maybe 7 wins is too much for them." Jay Cutler is the M. Night Shamaylan of the NFL, where he gets worse and worse every season. Their receiving core is basically a list of "Sleeper" fantasy picks, which is not necessarily a good thing (I've seen Johnny Knox and Devin Amoshadodudodo on every list, to the point of extreme annoyance). The defense is no longer considered The Monsters of the Midway. This team will get into a lot of shootouts and with Jay Cutler, that only increases the likelihood that he will average four interceptions a game and make a run at George Blanda's record setting 42 interceptions in 1962. That last part was not a joke.
4. Detroit Lions (5-11)
I like the Lions! That sounds like a strange statement saying that just a line above, I have them only winning 5 games. But this is definitely a team on the uprise. Let me give you the 4 reasons why the Detroit Lions will be a Super Bowl contender within 5 years.
1) Defensive Line: Kyle Vanden Bosch has looked like a force this preseason, and Suh will be a pro bowler within 3 years. Suh may be a nice guy off the field, but did you see his absurd manhandling of Browns QB Jake Delhomme last week? I thought Delhomme had suffered a career-ending injury. Suh possesses that instinct which is to just flat-out destroy.
2) The Emerging Matthew Stafford: Stafford showed guts last season, playing with a bum shoulder. He also showed skill, including that game where he had 422 passing yards and 5 TD's. Sure it was against the Browns, but he still looked phenomenal.
3) Skill Players: Calvin Johnson is a athletic freak at wide receiver and Jahvid Best is a budding superstar at running back. If they use Best wisely this year (which means avoiding his constant injuries), that should set them up nicely for the future
4) Jim Schwartz: The defensive coordinator of the Titans for 8 years, Schwartz is one of the better defensive minds out there. The players seem to like him and his football mind. Which is good, I guess. You also get the feeling that he knows what he is doing, and that is something the Lions organization has not had since the Clinton administration. And they barely had it there.
After all those reason, you may ask, why are the Lions projected to go 5-11? They are still a few years away. But when they get there, they will be good.
1. New Orleans Saints (12-4)
The biggest worry in the media today seems to be the infamous "Super Bowl Hangover", which is starting to turn into "The Madden Curse" by how much it is referenced. I decided to do some research to see if the "Hangover" was real. It is not really all that really. Unless you are the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Hangover is basically non-existent. This makes sense, because up until now I too believed in this "hangover", largely because the Steelers always faltered the year after they won. Maybe this "Hangover" is true for Pittsburgh, but not for other franchises. Not including Pittsburgh, only one team in the past ten years has not won over nine games, and that was the horrible 2003 Tampa Bay team, that won the forgotten 2002 Super Bowl. The Saints should and will be fine. Their offense will outweigh their average defense, and Drew Brees will put up absurd numbers again. There is nothing to worry about.
2. Atlanta Falcons (10-6)
If Matt Ryan can take the famous "jump", where a quarterback becomes great, Atlanta should be a great team. If Michael Turner can stay healthy, Atlanta should be a great team. The problem with Atlanta is that it relies heavily on those two "ifs", both of which are currently 50-50 at this point. But you have to believe that if both "ifs" can come true, they will give New Orleans hell. I am not crazy about their young defense, but if that can be somewhat decent, Atlanta should be a great team. Jesus, that is a lot of "ifs". I think their should be a rule that if you have over two "ifs" on your team, you are in a little trouble. I might be reconsidering those 10 wins.
3. Carolina Panthers (4-12)
What a drop from 2 to 3. Do I really trust Matt Moore at quarterback? The correct answer to that question is no. Steve Smith seems to have entered this weird state of limbo where he really is not relevant around the NFL anymore, and only good for doing weird things. I worry that Steve Smith is becoming the Clinton Portis of wide receivers, and will become him this year with a strange quarterback situation. You have to love the running backs they have, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Those two alone win them a few games. But the no-name defense really kills them here. I do buy John Fox as a coach, he is one of the few great coaches remaining. If Moore can play the way he did at the end of last season, then maybe they'll win more than 4. But I cannot see that happening.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-13)
It appears that Josh Freeman's fractured thumb should be ready in time for the season opener, but does that really matter? Honestly? Their running attack is weak, their best passing option is Kellen Winslow (Gah!). They have an above-average secondary led by Ronde Barber, but they have one of the worst defensive lines in the game and put no pressure on the quarterback whatsoever. Maybe they'll wear those orange jerseys this year, those are always fan favorites.
1. San Francisco 49ers (12-4)
12 wins? What? Believe it. But I hate myself for this pick. They will live off of going 6-0 in the horrible division that is the NFC West. They get the Rams, Rams and Seahawks six times this season. Six! They have one of the best defenses in football led by non-human Patrick Willis at linebacker. The problem is really Alex Smith, who is really trying his hardest to be considered a bust in the NFL. If he even has at least an average season this year, the 49ers should be a difficult team to beat. Plus they have Frank Gore at running, who without injuries is one of the best in the game.
2. Arizona Cardinals (7-9)
I am not sure if the recent news of Matt Leinart's possible trade status is good or bad for this team. On the good side, Matt Leinart sucks. On the bad side, so does Derek Anderson. At least Anderson has experience. His 2007 29 touchdown Pro Bowl season is the NFL's last decade version of Brady Anderson hitting 50 home runs in 1996. Maybe Anderson has some magic left, but I am not sure. As a Steelers fan, I love Whisenhut as a coach. His leaving the Steelers kills me everytime I see a close-up shot of Bruce Arians on the sideline. The Cards still have Larry Fitzgerald, and Beanie Wells should have a decent season. But the quarterback situation is just ugly. Like really, really ugly.
3. St. Louis Rams (5-11)
Once again, maybe I am too high on this team. That is weird to say for a team that I project to only win 5 games, but it is true. Their number one receiver is out for the season, and that kills Sam Bradford's first season right there. Not that it was going to be all that great anyway, with the horrific offensive line and what not. I do think Bradford was the clear choice at number one, and the Rams needed a franchise player, due to the inevitable fact that running back Steven Jackson's legs will eventually fall off. Now all they need is a receiver, an offensive line, a defensive line, linebackers, a secondary, a kicker, a coach, some fans, a better stadium, and hope. But we're getting somewhere.
4. Seattle Seahawks (3-13)
I feel like starting a game show where contestants have to name three players who play for the Seahawks. I guess this would work for the Rams too, but the Seahawks do not seem to have any discernible talent whatsoever. The fact that Pete Carroll would leave USC to go to this team with seemingly no future kind of clinches the fact that maybe Carroll participated in shady activities while being head coach of USC. Carroll brings his woo-hoo attitude up to Seattle, and will try to rejuvenate a lost franchise. They have some good receivers, but Matt Hasselbeck is nowhere near the way he used to be. This team is the worst in the worst division in football.
Falcons v. 49ers
Cowboys v. Eagles
49ers v. Saints
Cowboys v. Packers
Packers v. Saints
Colts v. Packers
Steelers v. Packers
There you have it. According to me, the Packers will win the Super Bowl. Or the Steelers, depending on which edition you find the most trustworthy. Peter King totally stole my thunder on the Homer Pick by the way. Damn it!