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.
There is every possibility that Favre could have a monster year but it seems every time he opens his mouth lately he makes it much clearer that he really is a self centered ass (or just an honest to a fault boob).
Yesterday he completely threw Mangini & the Jets under the bus saying they should have benched him when they knew he had a torn bicep but decided he was better at 50% than their relievers at 100%.. Now the NFL is looking into why he wasn’t listed in the injury report & may end up fining the Jets. He really didn’t have to let that slip.
Now he’s saying he’s not sure he’ll make the whole season, he’s not 100% mentally or physically, yada, yada, yada. Kinda makes one wonder if he’ll just pack it up & go home after he breaks the starting record. Probably not if he’s having that monster year.
For some strange reason I am more worried aobut the Bears than I am the Vikings. I’m sure it’s because we play them in 2 days. I’m gonna feel a whole lot better if we can come out & take that game without it even being close.
Spot on about the injuries Andy. Look what happened to Pittsburg last night. Lost their monster for 3-6 weeks. Not real warm & fuzzy about Packer’s depth in some key positions, obviously the QB spot being the biggest.
It sure looks to me like the Vikings are wound up tighter than a snare drum. The expectations are sky high this season; after all, they didn’t bring in Brent just to lead this team to the playoffs- they’ve already shown that Tarvaris Jackson can do that. There’s the alleged “schism” regarding Favre replacing Jackson or Rosenfels at QB; while I imagine this schism has been overstated, I’d be surprised if it didn’t exist at least under the surface. And now there’s this Bobby Wade thing, where they cut Wade a week after accepting a 50% pay cut in favor of Greg Lewis, who isn’t even good enough to make the Eagles sorry receiver corps.
Winning can salve a lot of things, and if the Vikes get out to a hot start a lot of this tightness may be significantly loosened. And the early schedule is certainly friendly to the Vikes, after starting against the Browns, they get Detroit and San Fran before the big Monday nighter against the Packers. But the schedule gets tougher as the season goes on- at one sttretch, they have the Ravens, Steelers and Green Bay three weeks’ running- and if they run into any trouble during that stretch, I think that team will fall apart.
I see them as an 8-8 type of team, good enough to win some games, even occasionally against a good team, but not good enough to do it on a consistent basis. Third place in the Norris, behind Green Bay (about 12-4) and Chicago (9-7).