- GB (11-5). I think the Packers will be good this year and could very well end up an elite team. Rodgers looks great, the o-line seems to be up to the challenge, the WRs are great, RBs are solid (though they should still have Tyrell Sutton), and the defense pretty much can’t be worse than last year. Things look good. My only caution, and I write this reluctantly, is that a few key injuries could change the outlook. Here’s to hoping Rodgers, Jennings, Pickett, Harris/Woodson and Collins all stay healthy! One thing I want to put out there is that I have very strong expectations for Ryan Grant. I read something in the offseason about Grant feeling like last year, his legs weren’t fully under him (conditioning/hamstring issue) and it cost him his burst and ability to break tackles. I actually believe this 100% because part of what made him so impressive in 2007 was his ability to run through tackles – and last year was such a huge contrast when finger-tackles were pulling him down. All reports this year indicate he’s back to his old self, and that he’s looked very good in camp. Grant to rush for 1500+, score 9 TDs or so, and have more receptions.
- MN (10-6). I know, I know, those who memorize my posts so that you can some day in the future point out my inconsistencies will be the first to tell me that I said earlier this year that the Vikes would be 12-4 if Favre plays for them. I’ve cooled on that a little bit – but mainly because I have elevated my opinions of both the Bears and the Packers making – the division games harder. This is still a good team, a solid D, the best running team in football, and now, they will have a QB with major experience. Two of Favre’s staple targets over the years have been the TE and the third-down RB – in Shiancoe and Chester Taylor, he has two quality targets. Throw in Percy Harvin and he will have at least some targets in MN. And Favre won’t be left with too many 3rds and long (I believe that is grammatically correct, not 3rd and longs), because AP will likely get positive yards on downs 1&2. One kind of scary thought I haven’t heard ANYONE talk about: what if Favre ends up having a monster year? I have not read one article/blog etc speculating re this possibility. I, and most others, tend to think it would be unrealistic, which is why we haven’t read anything about it. But, it is possible. While I laid out the conventional thinking above – saying that Favre won’t need to pass much because AP will do most of the damage – there may be a flip side. If teams consistently put 8-9 in the box to stop AP forcing Favre to throw, it’s at least possible that he’ll successfully take advantage of these relatively easy passing situations (single-coverage) and produce, no? Yes, he’s old, unwilling to learn new things, difficult in the locker-room, has a generally weak receiving targets and a poor coach, and overall is an assface for going to the Vikings, but the fact is, putting up gaudy stats isn’t exactly foreign to the man. My hope for this team is that they…um…just suck, finish 2-14 and are moved to L.A. for 2010.
- Chic (10-6). I’m nervous about Sunday’s game in part because I haven’t changed my opinion much from when the Bears announced the arrival of Jay Cutler. I think that was a very smart move by the team, a surprisingly smart move, and it will pay dividends. Cutler is very good and I think his addition brings instant variety to an offense that was fairly run-focused. Matt Forte will be good again, he’s a smart player, but he won’t be needed quite so much this year. I think WR Earl Bennett will do some damage this year. Cutler came back to Vanderbilt to throw for Bennett for Bennett’s pro day 2 years ago – and he did this a couple years after Cutler had already been in the NFL. Good friends. Bennett and Greg Olsen (Cutler’s 2nd best friend on the team) will get plenty of looks. The Bears could have some issues on defense – not sure they are capable of being the fearsome defense they once were. One hope we can all have is that Cutler’s personality/still-frat-guy-in-college-mentality might rub teammates the wrong way leading to internal fighting – like Brian Urlacher ending up calling Cutler a ***** for real.
- Det (5-11). The Lions will have their moments this year. I think Jim Schwartz may end up being a good coach. He certainly did a nice job in TN as a DC. RB Kevin Smith, WR Calvin Johnson, TE Brandon Pettigrew, LB Julian Peterson and S Louis Delmas will all have strong seasons. Stafford will have a few quality games too. Other than that, once again, not much to look forward to if you’re a Lions’ fan.