2008 NFC Conference Handicapping August 21st, 2008
By: Vernon Croy
NFL Handicapping Staff At CappersPicks.com
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Previewing the NFL’s NFC Conference – Predictions by Vernon Croy
What an exciting year it was for the NFC and finally getting their first Super Bowl win since 2005 and only the third in the last decade. The N.Y. Giants were definitely NOT the team everyone picked at the beginning of the season, but their end of the season game against New England brought new confidence to the table, eventually handing them the Lombardi Trophy. Now 2008 is upon us and with everyone back at square one there may be a few surprising teams making it to the playoffs this year. Even though many so called “experts” are picking Dallas or New York to make it to the Super Bowl, there are about 6 other teams that say otherwise. Whatever happens, I believe the NFC will have just a mediocre season overall.
NFC EAST (Dallas, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Washington)
Dallas has spent the last two seasons hurting themselves in the playoffs with miscues, even though they are an NFC powerhouse. It’s been 14 years since Jerry Jones has won a Super Bowl and his patience is no more. If they don’t win this year, you could see the entire coaching staff gone, which is fine because in my mind Wade Phillips will never be a Super Bowl caliber coach. However, if he just lets the team go out and play they should wind up winning the division once again. Remember the last time a team one back-to-back Super Bowls? Well it wasn’t too long ago when the Pats did it, but don’t expect it to happen again in 2008. Everyone will be gunning for the Giants, not to mention their schedule from October to the first part of November has games against Seattle, at Cleveland, San Francisco, at Pittsburgh, Dallas, and at Philadelphia. The last four are just as bad so don’t be surprised if they only reach a 50/50 season. Philadelphia and Washington are on the outside looking in and even though the Redskins made it to the playoffs in 2007, 2008 will be a whole lot tougher. If Donovan McNabb can stay healthy for the Eagles, they will easily overtake the Wild Hogs and have them looking towards next year. However, Philly doesn’t have an easy road either and even though their offense can take on the elite, an 8-8 record is a great possibility.
My Predictions Dallas 14-2 New York Giants 9-7 Philadelphia 9-7 Washington 7-9
NFC NORTH (Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota)
Well, the doors are officially wide open for the NFC North. Now that Favre is gone for good, it will be up to Rex Grossman, Jon Kitna, Aaron Rodgers, and Javarius Jackson to prove their teams are for real. The frontrunner here has to be the Minnesota Vikings, at least to me anyways. Their defense only got stronger with the addition of DE Jared Allen from Kansas City and their secondary could be considered one of the best in the league. Even if Jackson is half as good as the Vikings think, he can always hand the ball off to Adrien Peterson and let him work his magic. The Bears are once again going to be dealing with a quarterback by committee with Grossman and backup Kyle Orton. With Cedric Benson gone, and Matt Forte considered their #1 back, the defense will have to keep them in games or it’s going to be another long year. Look for their season to be over before the BYE week (8). Detroit has been trying to workout the kinks of Rod Marinelli’s play books and showed some signs of brilliance last year. However, the only time their defense looked as though they belonged on the field was about 5 games.
They did draft a barrage of defensive players including Army standout Calais Campbell, but it may take years to see if any of them pan out. In the end, just another mediocre year for the Lions. So what’s going on in Lambeau? Who knows, but Aaron Rodgers will now have to endure an entire season. If he goes down they must rely on longtime journeymen QB Brad Johnson to make things happen. Their better off putting everything in the hands of their defense. Since their isn’t a clear cut team, we have to put the Vikings on top for now. It would have been really interesting had they nabbed Favre.
My Predictions Minnesota 9-7 Green Bay 8-8 Detroit 7-9 Chicago 6-10
NFC SOUTH (Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans, Tampa Bay)
Let’s be honest. Last year we thought Carolina and New Orleans were going to be real contenders at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately injuries and underachieving proved us wrong. 2008 dawns a refreshing start and possibly one of the most competitive divisions in the league. However, I see the ATL running into all sorts of problems offensively this year as always. Even with star studded San Diego backup Michael Turner carrying the load, he’s never done it for an entire year. Plus their schedule looks as though they “might” when 5 games. New Orleans is really having troubles in the backfield, even though just 2 seasons ago it looked as though they would rule this division for many years. Unfortunately there have been early injury issues with both wide receivers Marques Colston and Devery Henderson, as well as running backs Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush. Even Jeremy Shockey is hurting, which leads me to believe this could be a long season for the Saints. Carolina has the most underrated quarterback around the league in Jake Delhomme, and when healthy they are a team to be reckoned with every week. Don’t forget, they took on New England just a few Super Bowls ago and are hoping 2008 will bring the same excitement. They should win the division based on their week schedule and possibly even get a first round bye. However, they’ll need WR Steve Smith for this to happen and an early ankle injury doesn’t help. Tampa Bay made it to the playoffs in 2007 and just really didn’t get anything going against the Giants in the Wild Card game. This year injuries could keep them from ever getting things together. They’ll still stay in many games, but when it’s all said and done their schedule is going to get the best of them in the first half of the season.
My Predictions Carolina 11-5 Tampa Bay 8-8 New Orleans 8-8 Atlanta 6-10
NFC WEST (Arizona, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis)
Most of us forget about the NFC West every year because Seattle has won the division 5 years in a row. Even after Shaun Alexander’s demise last year, they were still able to win the division thanks to several injuries plaguing both Arizona and St. Louis. So is anything going to change this year? Not for the 49ers. For a team that finished 5-11 last year, I think they’ll end up with no more than 3 wins this season thanks to a brutal schedule. Seattle is hoping the combination of RBs Julius Jones (Dallas) and Maurice Morris will be able to run well behind FB Leonard Weaver, which was a huge problem last year with FB Mack Strong calling it quits. Teams were able to turn the Seahawks into a one dimensional team last year, which won’t happen if the running game can do its part. Look for Seattle to be right at the top at season’s end once again. St. Louis had the biggest slew of injuries in 2007 and are hoping that subsides during their 08′ campaign. In order for this to happen the offensive line will have to keep Bulger from laying on his back. Concussions have plagued him the last two seasons, and one more hard hit could end his career. WR Torry Holt and RB Steven Jackson make up a strong offensive powerhouse when their running on all cylinders. Stay tuned. Arizona has been most experts picks to surprise the last two seasons, but injuries have kept them from gelling like they should. If Leinhart can stay healthy, he will have an easy time picking apart secondary’s throughout the league. The question is, whether or not the defense can live up to its expectations. You might see RB Edgerrin James and company control the clock more to keep the defense off the field. While the Cardinals may surprise a few teams it’s their first eight games that will take its toll. They could be 1-7 before hitting the easier part of the schedule. In the end, we imagine many teams in the NFC will be bunched up together by the end of the season. Only time will tell.
My Predictions Seattle 12-4 St. Louis 10-6 Arizona 7-9 San Francisco 3-13
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