NFL 2012 Season Preview: NFC
The month of August has arrived and the NFL preseason is about to kick off. Here is a preview of where the teams of the NFC will end up come December.
NFC North: (Play series against AFC South & NFC West)
Green Bay Packers Predicted win/loss: 13-3
Aaron Rogers had one of the best seasons ever for a QB last season and the Packers lead the league with a 15-1 record. They also set the less than impressive record for the most passing yards against a team with 4,796. So they conducted the “D draft” drafting six defensive players.
The only question for this team now concerns how far they’ll go in the playoffs. Super Bowl favourite.
Chicago Bears 11-5
The Bears were 7-3 before Jay Cutler went down through injury…and the rest, as the French say, was crap. The Bears ended up with a record of 8-8. A lot of the blame for Cutler’s injury was laid at the offensive line. I say it should’ve been laid on the mad scientist masquerading as the offensive coordinator, Mike Martz.
New OC Mike Tice, last year’s offensive line coach, actually recognises his charge’s limitations. Therefore he should actually call plays that should keep Cutler on his feet a bit more. And some bloke called Brandon Marshall has arrived, apparently he’s good.
Detroit Lions 9-7
Discipline. I’m not entirely sure the Lions understand what the word means. They are already known as being an undisciplined team in regards to certain unsavoury acts during last season (Coach Schwartz being among the offenders) and now that has carried over to off the field incidents.
You can’t deny the Lions have some amazing talent on the team, but the schedule is more difficult than last year. When the going gets tough, will they get going? Or will they lose the plot?
Minnesota Vikings 4-12
The Vikings have one of the youngest overall squads and their gun Adrian Peterson is recovering from MCL and ACL injuries as well as fighting a legal battle in regards to an apparent altercation in a nightclub. The defence has Jared Allen and Chad Greenway but the defence can’t win games if the offence can’t score points and turn the ball over.
Unfortunately, with Christian Ponder as QB, this is what the Vike’s have to look forward to. Are the Twins going any good…? Oh…
NFC South: (Play series against AFC West & NFC East)
Atlanta Falcons 11-5
The Falcons have the opportunity to make the most out of the fallout of the Saints bounty scandal. The Falcons are always expected to make the playoffs, but this year they have the opportunity to really call the NFC South their own. The question is whether they can actually win when they get to the playoffs.
The fact they take on the NFC East could be a blessing as these are the kind of teams that the Falcons will take on come January. They have to make this year count, Tony Gonzalez deserves a playoff win before he turns 50.
Carolina Panthers 9-7
The Panthers will be the team to benefit most from the Saints demise as under normal circumstances, the Panthers wouldn’t be in the playoff picture. This is already a good team but events have given them an opportunity that may not have arrived this early in Cam Newton’s career.
The problem the Panthers have is that they are in the NFC. The NFC East and NFC North are very strong at the moment. They will stop the Panthers from making the playoffs this season. But if Newton learns even more lessons this year, people could be talking about the Panthers as a real playoff contender next year.
New Orleans Saints 7-9
What a great off season! Head Coach suspended for the entire year, starting QB playing hardball to get a new deal otherwise he wasn’t going to play, the entire culture of the team scrutinised and criticised. But in my opinion, the biggest loss for the Saints is defensive captain Jonathan Vilma.
Like Head Coach Sean Payton, Vilma has been suspended for the entire season. The Saints are not really known for their defence, but Vilma is the glue that holds them together. The glue’s gone.
They will still be a good team offensively, but the amount of points that will be scored against them will be too much.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-10
The Bucs have made some good moves in the off season after a less than impressive 2011. Carl Nicks has arrived to help protect Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson has arrived so that Freeman has someone to rely on in the receiving game.
New Head Coach Greg Schiano has his work cut out for him but he has started very well. You get the feeling that the Bucs have moved on from their 10-game losing streak that ended their season last year but they seem to be a team to watch for next year. But then this isn’t a normal year down south is it.
NFC East: (Play series against AFC North & NFC South)
Philadelphia Eagles 12-4
The so called ‘Dream Team’ had a less than dream season last year and only started to look like a team to be reckoned with when the damage had already been done. But that was last year. Not many changes personnel wise but a change in attitude is already apparent. Nnamdi Asomugha looked like anyone but Nnamdi Asomugha last year; he’ll be back to his usual self as will others.
The Eagles looked the goods late last year. I think they’ll be in the Conference title game with the Packers.
New York Giants 10-6
If there is a player and team that typifies the Australian “she’ll be right” attitude, it would be Eli Manning and the Giants. Look at how they have won their last two Super Bowls.
They snuck into the playoffs and were outsiders for every game. Yet they won. And for some reason, after their victorious seasons, they have still been seen as a team that was good but not the team to beat. But hey, don’t worry. She’ll be right.
Washington Redskins 6-10
Can one man make such a difference? The Redskins are hoping that Robert Griffin III can. There is no doubt that RG3 is a talent but we haven’t seen him in action in the NFL just yet.
His supporting cast isn’t great and the division he plays in just happens to have the reigning Super Bowl champs and an underachieving Eagles team with a chip on their shoulder.
But having said that, there isn’t any real pressure on the Redskins this year. They are expected to improve but not be world beaters. Not a bad environment for a rookie QB, ask Josh Freeman and Cam Newton.
Dallas Cowboys 3-13
You may be surprised that I’ve put ‘America’s Team’ here but I don’t think they are a happy team at the moment. I may be way off the mark, but I think Tony Romo needs a change and I think Jerry Jones knows it.
The arrival of Kyle Orton as the backup QB (who came with a price tag of $5 Million by the way) has got me thinking. And let’s not forget Dez Bryant’s cameos this offseason. The defence was improved through the draft, but on paper the roster wasn’t as bad as the numbers suggested last season.
Something’s not right. Don’t expect to hear “yeehar” too many times this year.
NFC West: (Play series against AFC East & NFC North)
San Francisco 49ers 12-4
Have the scars healed? For a team that looked so strong and confident to lose their biggest game of the season because of a fumbled punt return, the following season can go either way. I see the 49ers being just as strong but they won’t quite have the success of last year. The schedule is tougher and the league knows what they do now.
They will still do well, but fall short of the lofty heights of last season. What goes up…must come down?
Arizona Cardinals 9-7
Strange team the Cardinals, they pull out all the stops for what they perceive is a franchise QB in Kevin Kolb but lose. John Skelton takes up the starting spot and the Cards win. Yet it looks as though Kolb will have the top job to lose again this season.
Two things can help him: A second legitimate receiver to look for in rookie Michael Floyd, and a defence that looks as though it has got a nice groove going.
Seattle Seahawks 7-9
Seattle paid good money for two game veteran Matt Flynn, then drafted another QB in the third round of the draft. Tarvaris Jackson just happens to be the third QB on the roster. Who is starting? Who knows? One thing is for certain though, none of them will be relied upon to be a Rogers or Brady.
They need to be solid and help the running game be as good as it can be. Defensively, the Seahawks have a very good secondary but a bit to be desired elsewhere. They’ll put in all day, the quality just isn’t there.
St Louis Rams 6-10
Veteran coach Jeff Fisher is the top dog in St Louis these days and one of the first things that happened after he took the job was lose his defensive coordinator Gregg Williams because of his involvement in the Saints bounty scandal. The Rams just can’t seem to get a break.
They always seem to be a team in progress, without the progression part. The Rams have four first round draft picks in the next two years so the future may be a bright one. They look like a team in progress… Anyone else having déjà vu?