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2007 AFC & NFC Preview

NFL Football - By: M. Pool
Thursday September 6th, 2007 - Page updated at 8:00 am
Contributor For Sportsbook Review


Poolside Rant - Vol 2 - Free Super Bowl Pick

2007 NFL Fantasy Football

Poolside Rant
September 5th, 2007

Another season is imminent. The season kicks off with defending Super bowl Champions, the Indianapolis Colts playing against the new darlings of the NFL, the New Orleans Saints. High powered offenses and two of the favorites for the 2008 Super bowl will take the stage and get the season kicked off. Speaking of the Super bowl I will take this opportunity before the season begins to give my prognostications for the upcoming 17 weeks of glory and who the pretenders and contenders will be after the final game of the regular season. I will run down the divisions and give a quick analysis of who is and who is not going to be in the final 12 and maybe I will enlighten you on the eventual Super bowl winner.

Parity is at a high point on the NFL today and some of the AFC & NFC divisions reflect that perfectly as there is little to separate the teams within a division but there are some divisions that are better than others. I am an NFC guy so let’s start in the NFC and move from East to West and then hit up the AFC and move back from West to East. I should tell you now I am also a Cowboys fan, so make fun and understand that they may get unfairly elevated but I shall try to remain as unbiased as possible.

The NFC East preview and my favorite division was supposed to be one of the stronger divisions last season and to begin that held true but halfway through the season the play of all the teams dropped off considerably, except ironically the team that lost their starting super stud QB. Philadelphia was the team to beat last year and I keep them near the top this season but I think the Cowboys have improved enough and Philly has lost enough depth to even those two teams out. Look for both teams to finish 10-6 or better with one winning the division and the other being the top wild card team. Washington is pinning its hopes to young QB Jason Campbell and injury marred Clinton Portis this season but they look to have improved on paper but folks this is Washington and I just don’t see the talent getting them to the next level this year.

The New York Giants have been anything but Giants although did claim a wild card last year after stumbling down the stretch. Gone is 40% of their offense when Tiki loved hearing himself on TV and the press so much he retired for a TV analyst job. Young Manning must step up and command this team and I think he has the mental toughness to do just that but the talent on defense and the offensive line has been depleted so it will be a futile struggle and Eli will likely be blamed for a poor showing by the Gmen. Look for Washington to finish 5-11 and the Giants at 6-10 as they finish fighting for the cellar in the NFC East. Cowboys should take the division with The Eagles a close second.

The NFC North preview tells us its just awful. Despite having the Bears this division is possibly the worst in the NFL right now and doesn’t look to get any better this season. The Bears have lost some talent and depth with some turmoil surrounding them in the off-season but are still the class of the division. Rex and his offense must be more consistent this season as the defense is unlikely to carry them as much this season but they have the best shot at sweeping the division of any NFC team. Green Bay is the next best in the division but 8-8 is about as good as it gets for them and a lot must go right for that to happen. Favre is still slinging and the defense is young and much improved but they need more punch on offense and rookie RB Brandon Jackson must provide a solid running attack for the offense to be effective. The Lions are, well they are the Lions.

A plethora of offensive talent and a decent defense but every season they find so many ways to lose you wonder how GM Matt Millen keeps his job….and gets an extension? Anyone? Kitna looks to be in charge of an explosive offense this season with yet another WR 1st round pick, that’s 4 in 5 years if anyone is counting. Hey Matt, maybe it’s worth investing a 1st round pick in a QB to get them the ball? The Vikings are one of my picks to contend for the 1st overall pick in the draft next year. A solid defense won’t help raw QB Tavaris Jackson score points but they may have a saving grace in rookie RB Adrian Peterson. They need to get this kid on the field as much and as soon as possible to have any shot at not being the first place loser in the NFL.

The NFC South preview shows some solid competition for the NFC Championship in the Saints and possibly the Panthers. The Saints went from the bottom to the top with a new coach Payton, new QB Brees and dynamic playmaker 2nd overall pick Reggie Bush. Look for more scoring this year from the offensively gifted club and another division title as they go 11-5. The Panthers have been near the top for the past 10 years it seems but always fall short or disappoint the fans by not playing to potential or succumbing to injury. This year could be different with a new scheme offensively and a solid backup David Carr who may be the teams best shot along with stud WR/KR/PR Steve Smith at dethroning the Saints.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made some positive changes but they aren’t in the same class as the previous two teams mentioned and even Jeff Garcia can’t help Gruden get beyond 8-8 this season. The defense must be better for the Bucs to compete with the other potential wild cards teams; they won’t be better or be a wild card contender. The Falcons are going to finish last in this division and are another contender for worst record in the NFL after their franchise player got caught being “immature”, I think, were his words. In any case the Falcons are not a competitor for any prizes this season and still could be the center of the media attention in the NFL for all the wrong reason. Don’t be like Mike, or was that Ron Mexico?

The NFC West preview has been the easiest division to hit the past few years simply because Seattle has easily had more talent on offense and defense than their opponents but those days are gone like the sun disappears at night. Seattle still gets my nod as the favorite but Alexander has to be the pre-Madden curse Alexander and the defense has to be very good or they will lose too many divisional games to be the runaway favorite. The Rams have made improvements in the off-season and should be better defensively but offensively they made even greater strides adding Bennett and McMichael to an already potent air attack. Jackson is the wheels on this offense though and he looked great in a breakout season in 2006 and you can expect a repeat in ’07. The Niners should be much improved defensively this season adding Clements, Lewis and Willis and Frank Gore should keep the offense moving. Nolan will do much better this season if Alex Smith continues to improve.

Arizona has perhaps the most explosive offense in the division and if Leinhart makes the progression I think he will, Arizona will cease to be the whipping boys of the NFC West. The defense is young and improving every game which makes them a dangerous opponent if they can play a consistent team game for 60 minutes. I will give the Hawks a 10-6 and the other teams could all vie for an NFC Wild card spot with 8-8 or 9-7 records. This is perhaps the toughest division to predict this season in the NFL this season.

Moving over to the AFC West preview we have a change at the bottom and possibly at the top of the division. San Diego rolled through opponents last season with the remarkable and almost unbelievable season by LT with 2300 all purpose yards and 31 TD’s. He won the division single handedly but this season the Chargers have a much tougher schedule and they will have a difficult time reaching last years win totals. If they falter Denver could be in prime position to scoop the division behind a revamped running attack featuring Travis Henry and a superb defensive backfield with Bly and Bailey, the WR killer B’s. Cutler better be the guy that Shanahan thinks he is because a solid performance from him could mean stealing the division from the Chargers.

The Raiders made some changes but not everything is so different in Oakland. Failing to sign the top pick in last years draft could set this team back a few years although I expect a better result this season regardless of Russell’s status. A solid D will help out a depleted offense led by McCown for now but eventually he will give way to Culpepper who could turn the Raiders hopes into dreams if he is the Dante from 2004. KC will bring up the rear in this division and possibly the league unless Huard is much better than I remember and LJ is so good he doesn’t need any blockers. Offensively challenged is an understatement when it comes to the Chiefs so Herm better have some magical plays for his defense or it will be a long bitter fall in KC. SD wins the division but barely at 11-5 with Denver posting a 10-6 for a wild card while Oak-town gets to 8-8 and KC goes a dismal 4-12.

The AFC South preview is the home of the Super bowl champion Colts and the more things change the more they stay the same. The Colts will roll and end up 13-3 if Manning and his weapons stay healthy while Addai should be the reincarnated Edge of yester-year racking up receptions and rushing yards along with more TD’s than a Manning led offense would suggest.

The defense lost so many players though so I see the Colts dropping a game here and there but still taking the division. Jacksonville may have been close last year but Garrard is hardly a QB to hang your hat on and with little WR help the Jags offense could struggle to score enough to get the stellar D some wins through the season. The rush attack featuring Jones-Drew, Taylor and Jones won’t be enough to overtake the Colts and may not even hold off the improved Titans in the division. Behind Vince Young the Titans will keep their sights on the Colts and do everything in their limited talents to get above .500. Unfortunately losing the best D/ST player for the season because he can’t behave will hurt the defense enough to slow the Titans progress but they will send a message this year that they will contend, next year and beyond. Houston and new golden-boy Matt Schaub is the wild card in this division and could surprise everyone by finishing as high as second.

If the defense plays up to their potential and improves some of the offense may just have improved enough to get them over the hump and win those games they found ways to lose in years past. Green could really help anchor the offense if he leads by example. After the Colts the division is a crap-shoot but none will make the wild card although any one of the other teams could contend late in the season. Crazy eh?

The AFC North preview hosts some talented teams and we will see a wild card from this division. How you pick from Pittsburg, Cincinnati and Baltimore is anyone’s guess. I have a feeling Palmer is ready to prove Manning isn’t the only #1 draft pick deserving of a Super bowl ring and play like a man possessed trying for one of his own.

The Bengals D is still a little scary but I will pick them to go 11-5 and win the division. The Ravens are the wild card this year because that defense is scary the opposite way that the Bengals defense is, you can figure that one out. The offense is solid with McGahee and I expect an outstanding season from the former Bill leading the Ravens back into the playoffs. Pittsburg and new coach Mike Tomlin get left on the outside of the second season but they are going to be a very dangerous team for many opponents. I just think the defense has lost some of its swagger and Willie Parker will be overlooked as the best offensive weapon too much during the season while Big Ben tries airing out the offense.

The Steelers will go 8-8 or 9-7 The Browns have drafted wisely and #22 overall pick Brady Quinn will not start…until game 4 and the Browns realize the future must start now, Charlie Frye isn’t getting it done and the defense isn’t good enough to carry the team with simply a QB that manages the game well. Enter Quinn to give the team a boost at some point and turn tomorrow into today for the Browns franchise, what exactly do the Browns have to lose? Jamal Lewis can help the offense and at least he won’t be tearing up their D twice a year but the Browns still go 5-11.

Finally the AFC East preview and this could be a dismal season for fans of any team but the Pats who should easily roll up the division and finish 12-4. Brady has new weapons in Moss and Stallworth while Maroney should handle the rushing duties like a champ. The D made some changes and with Samuel back in the fold there is no stopping the Pats in the East.

The Jets are probably the next best team but Thomas Jones is not enough help to get them into the second season and don’t be surprised if at some point Clemens takes over for Pennington. I like Pennington but his arm doesn’t look very zippy anymore and I don’t think the Jets will be able to afford taking chances on it going 9-7. The Dolphins will finish dismally again this season and even the D can’t help with Trent Green and the offense but Ronnie Brown has to breakout this season, doesn’t he? Chambers will lead the receivers and I think TE David Martin can add something to the offense but 6-10 or 7-9 is the best Coach Cameron can expect this season.

The Bills can’t even expect that much with their brutal schedule and they may be the unfortunate victim of the NFL this season. Improving Losman and Evans will help transition Marshawn Lynch in but the Bills lack talent on D to compete this year after losing 3 of their top defenders. They will be lucky to get to 5-11.

So there you have my take on the NFL season that is about to begin team by team and division by division. My Free Super bowl pick will pit the Pats against the Cowboys and with me being a Cowboys fan I guess you know who I will predict as the winner. Enough of the prognosticating…next up on my list is a topic next to my heart, namely my fantasy team. I am taking some abuse from the league this season post-draft so I will run down my picks and let you guys tell me how I did. That’s going to be out in the next few days so stay tuned in while I am back to the Pool.

Later folks, I am out of here.


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