Monday, September 10, 2007

They get paid for this? and NFC Power Rankings

I love hearing the "experts" from all over the printed press taking turns picking the Saints or the Bears to win the NFC. Is it that nobody takes the time to evaluate more than 2 or 3 teams as contenders in this mediocre conference? Does anybody realize that the last 3 NFC Championships have involved 6 different teams? In the last 10 years only 1 team has played in consecutive NFC Championship games (Philly 3 years in a row).

  • 2006 NFC Title game involved Chicago and New Orleans.
    • in the 2005 playoffs Chicago was 2 seed and New Orleans did not make the playoffs
  • 2004 NFC Title game involved Seattle and Carolina
    • the year before that? Seattle was a 4 seed and Carolina did not make the playoffs
  • 2003 NFL Title game involved Philadelphia and Atlanta
    • the year before that? Philly was the #1 seed and Atlanta did not make the playoffs
see a pattern here? In fact the last time that both NFC Title game participants had both made the playoffs the previous season was 2002 where Philly and Tampa both made it as the 3 and 6 seeds respectively in 2001.

My point is that it seems as thought nobody has looked outside of New Orleans and Chicago as possible Super Bowl teams from the NFC. Dallas has gotten a little bit of love but after that it is pretty short sighted on behalf of the "experts".

I am not writing this as a defense of the Vikings. The Vikings have not earned the respect to be considered an elite NFC team. Maybe this is just a rambling post that really doesn't have a point, but I will guarantee there will not be an NFC Title rematch this year. Here are my reasons why...
  1. Both of these teams have holes.
    • New Orleans - 2006 the Saints were 13th in the NFC vs. the run, giving up almost 130 yards per game. That is not the mark of a championship team, especially not the mark of a perpetually successful team. The Saints needed an offense that produced FAR beyond expectations to compensate for giving up massive amounts of rushing yards. The 2005 Saints were not very good and nobody expected them to be competitive in 2006. This offense snuck up on everybody. This will not happen this year. They will struggle with the target on their backs. VERDICT: Offense was good enough last year but will step back this year. Chances are better than Chicago's.
    • Chicago - The Bears' achilles heal is on the other side of the ball. They won a lot of games in spite of a very average QB who put them in position to lose games more often than he put them in position to win. The Bears defense is good enough that you have to consider them in the best of the NFC talk. But they traded Thomas Jones and they no other options at QB other than scary, Sexi Rexi. Rex threw 3 or more INTs in a single game 5 times last year! They will need their Def / Special Teams to single handedly WIN games for them again this season and that is a rare thing in this league. And by WIN I don't mean hold teams down, they will have to actually score more points than the offense to win. VERDICT: They've been living dangerously at the QB position for 2 years, that will catch up to them. Defense is great when healthy and very good when not healthy, but those guys can't play offense and defense anymore.
  2. The entire NFC is very mediocre (including CHI & NO) and ripe for one of several different teams to step up and win their division. Here are a couple playoff teams from 2006 who could play to within a game of the Super Bowl.
    • Dallas - They have a nice combo of RBs, a game winning WR and an emerging defense. Tony Romo had a nice 2nd half of the 2006 season to get the Cowboys into the playoffs but time will tell how well he performs in his 2nd year at QB (1st full season). VERDICT: They have the talent to win the NFC, but I think they have 3 questions that need to be answered. Can Romo lead this team to the Super Bowl? Is TO going to help this team or destroy this team? Can the defense defend the pass a little better?
    • Seattle - They've been there before, they have an experienced QB, a star RB and a solid defense. Last year they fell victim to the curse of the Super Bowl loser, but they are still a team capable of making a playoff run. VERDICT: I'm not holding out much hope for the Seahawks. The defense was just OK last year, if they step up a little bit that will help this offense a lot and they can make a run.
  3. The stats mentioned above. The last 3 NFC Championship games involved 1 team who had not even made the playoffs the previous season. Here are a few that I think could sneak up on the league.
    • St. Louis - Defense is the issue here. 3rd in NFC vs the pass, but last vs. the run. 4th best offense in the conference gives them a chance. STL has a very good QB, a great RB and a very good OL. Offense is good enough to make a playoff run but the defense has to be better. VERDICT: Defense will be too much for the aging offense to overcome.
    • Green Bay - as much as it pains me to say it I think the Packers could be a team to contend with this year. They were 5th in the NFC in offense and defense a year ago (although 11th in def ppg). Are they going to repeat those numbers? Probably not on offense but this is probably the best defensive team that nobody talks about. Favre is what you could call an experienced QB but regardless of how well (or poorly he plays) he is lacking in weapons around him. Finding a legit running game and Favre not throwing more picks than TDs is rather important (hasn't happened since 2004). They also have a rookie kicker which could be a major factor as they'll have to win close games. VERDICT: a team to watch out for as I think the NFC North becomes a very good division. Question marks are Favre, RBs and rookie K.
    • Minnesota - if you want a formula for NFL success it is a strong running game, good play on the line of scrimmage and a defense that can stop the run. Minnesota ranks high on all of those. But those strengths can be minimized by an inexperienced QB, WRs who can't catch the ball and not being able to defend the pass. VERDICT: If Minnesota can defend the pass and Tarvaris Jackson is able to manage this offense Minnesota has the defense and running game to be one of the best 3 or 4 teams in the NFC.
    • Carolina - Statistically very similar to Minnesota in 2006, only slightly worse on Off and flip flopped on Def (good against pass, waker vs. the run). The offense has talent, the defense is proven and this team has experience. VERDICT: Will make the playoffs this year and could make a run. Not glaring question marks, but also outside of Steve Smith nothing that grabs your attention either.
  4. My predictions - It is hard to say, but if I'm calling the so called "experts" gutless for picking NO or Chi, then I guess I at least have to stick my neck out there too.
    • New Orleans doesn't make the playoffs
    • Dallas hosts the NFC Championship assuming TO doesn't take the team down with him.
    • Either Minnesota or Green Bay is the other team, depending on which team answers their questions most effectively.
My NFC Power Rankings - only NFC cause I don't care about about the AFC. This is based on 2007 results only, not 2006 or perceived talent going into 2007.
  1. Carolina (1-0) - nice win on the road over St. Louis
  2. Minnesota (1-0) - Atlanta offense did not enter the red zone, offense was good enough.
  3. Green Bay (1-0) - nice home win over a potential playoff team
  4. Seattle (1-0) - Tampa is not an impressive team but did not allow a TD
  5. Dallas (1-0) - scored 45 points but also gave up 35 to a team without a RB
  6. San Francisco (1-0) - it was AZ and it was at home but a nice comeback win
  7. Chicago (0-1) - played the best of the AFC on the road tough for 3 qtrs. Defense couldn't win it for them this time
  8. Philadelphia (0-1) - road loss to Green Bay wasn't pretty but it was gutty
  9. Detroit (1-0) - nice road win but it was Oakland and Josh McClown
  10. Washington (1-0) - ugly win, but it was a win
  11. New York (0-1) - I'm not impressed but they did score 35 @ Dal after losing their #1 RB
  12. St. Louis (0-1) - @ home should have won if you want a home playoff game
  13. Arizona (0-1) - had a road game won if Allen falls on that ball in the endzone
  14. Atlanta (0-1) - just didn't play very well
  15. New Orleans (0-1) - I know it was the defending SB champs and on the road but they looked awful.
  16. Tampa Bay (0-1) - ugly


Eric said...

bears below SF? good call.

Tom said...

sour grapes cause your team is 0-1

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