A mostly balanced assessment from our unbalanced scribe
This week you get the NFC picks, which are generally more accurate, as they remain free of Hartley’s Steeler bias.
Packers 12-4. The Packers have offense, but the defense should be better. Everyone is picking the Vikes to win the Super Bowl … I bet they don’t even win the division. As for QB Aaron Rodgers, if you can, draft him in your fantasy league, and fast.
Vikings 9-7. Brett Favre won’t have another year like last year. Why? I’ll tell ya … last year was a fluke. The defense is what the Saints exposed. They lost backup RB Chester Taylor – that’s gonna hurt. And WRs Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice are banged up and it’s too early to be so thin. The Vikes are precariously thin in certain areas (except for those two giant fat-ass defensive linemen) and it will show this year.
Meanwhile, Favre reportedly didn’t want to come back because he thinks Coach Brad Childress is clueless about the offense. And why would Childress command respect? He let 3 players skip practice to fly to Favre’s house and beg him to come back. Bank on Childress losing his job following another season-ending interception thrown up by Favre.
Bears 6-10. Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz and QB Jay Cutler are a bad combination. Well, maybe not so bad., They’re on the same page in one respect. Martz has said he doesn’t care if his QB throws INTs and Cutler is a guy who LOVES to throw INTs. This could be a record-breaking interception season. Maybe he can break George Blanda’s record of throwing 42 INTs in a season.
Lions 6-10. I think the QB Matthew Stafford and the offense will be better. They are still very young, but they scratch out 6 wins, including beating the Vikings one time by picking off Favre 4 times. You read it here first.
We have to hear the pundits once again yack about how this is the toughest division, which has produced ONE Super Bowl winner in the last 15 years.
Cowboys 11-5. Too much talent not to win 11 games, but then the playoffs start. Maybe Romo is who he is. Not equipped to win a playoff game. The coach is a spineless jellyfish and that doesn’t fare well for the playoffs. I see the same this year.
Redskins 10-6. The team takes a big jump. Having an offensive game plan that doesn’t consist solely of 3-yard passes to the TE and FB will help. Having Donovan McNabb at QB will help. But having Mike Shanahan in charge … not good. I have no faith in Shanahan getting them quality personnel, but he might improve the team from the out-and-out disaster it has been.
Giants. 9-7. People expect a bounce-back. I do not. They are average. They played well in a crucial stretch when they won the Super Bowl. But they have oft-injured RB Brandon Jacobs, who can’t finish a season. Forcing them to rely on Ahmad “Not Rashad” Bradshaw who can’t carry the full-time load. Defense fades fast. Coach fired.
Eagles. 5-11. How anyone thinks the Eagles will be better without McNabb is a mystery to me. The offensive line is worse, the defense is worse, the running game is nonexistent. And if nothing else, McNabb always limited interceptions. So if they were struggling to score points, he wasn’t placing them in bad situations by turning the ball over. QB Kevin Kolb will throw 19 INTs.
Wish I could skip this division and just strip their playoff berth. This is abysmal.
Niners 10-6. They have a lot of talent that people don’t see. They should play pretty solid and smart. They drafted two offensive linemen in the first round and both will start. Big problem is you don’t know what is going on with QB Alex Smith from week to week. But this division is weak, so they will get a break. Ted Ginn isn’t a great WR, but will score more TDs this year because he has Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree to keep defenses busy.
Cards 8-8. And I’m being generous. QB Matt Leinart? I had a hard time giving them 8 wins, but their schedule isn’t exactly murderer’s row. Note: As of press time, looks like Leinart’s lost his job to Browns castoff Derek Anderson.
Seahawks 6-10. Coach Pete Carroll can talk all he wants about the new upbeat culture. They still have broken down old Matt Hasselback at QB and Julius Jones at RB, they still have T.J. Houshmandzadeh as their playmaking WR, ‘cause Deion Branch can’t stay healthy. They still have a bad defense.
Rams 4-12 . Oh, yeah, almost forgot about the Rams. Good thing they drafted Sam Bradford to go with all those offensive weapons, such as … Donnie Avery. Who’s hurt and out for the year. Ouch!
Saints 10-6. Great run last year, but the party’s over. Still have offense, but their defense wasn’t great last year and will falter.
Falcons 9-7. Still don’t know why they call Matt Ryan “Matty Ice,” as though he’s cool under pressure. What big games has he won? Good running game, average defense. Overrated QB.
Buccaneers 6-10. They’ve got a long way to go. Will they get there? Capt. Jack Sparrow’s compass says there are rough seas still ahead this season.
Panthers. 6-10. They can run the ball well enough to keep games close. Problem: QB Matt Moore. Who? They should turn the ball over to Jimmy Clausen. I hated Clausen at Notre Dame but I know he’s better than Sam Bradford in the NFL. Clausen has a pro game. He is tough, knows how to handle the pocket and makes the throws.
Swagger: It depends, probably something hard and kickin.’
Sheet: Come on, gimme something.
Swagger: I don’t know … maybe “Start Me Up.”