It’s time for the NFC Previews. We will list the teams in the order I project them to finish.
Tom takes a look at the NFC previews and gives us a few predictions:
The health of Carson Wentz will be paramount for this team for the long season. However, Nick Foles took over admirably for Wentz when he went down with a knee injury. In fact, He was named Super Bowl MVP and went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady. Zach Ertz had a tremendous season running the ball and will now be looked upon to carry the load. The addition of receiver Mike Wallace makes this team a deep threat at any time along with some solid defense in Malcolm Jenkins and Fletcher Cox.
Is Ezekiel Elliott ready? He was on and off the field last season and that created havoc. He will need to be all business with Dak Prescott handling the quarterback duties. Prescott is 17-6 with Zeke and 7-7 without him in his career. The downside to the 2018 version of the Cowboys is the retirement of Jason Whitten and the release of Dez Bryant. It may be hard to replace them.
Things were terrible for a few years in Giants history but a new management team is in with Pat Shurmur as the offensive coordinator and Dave Gettleman the new General Manager. They haven’t cleaned house but appear to be willing to allow 37-yr old quarterback Eli Manning have some space. Last season the Giants scored the fewest points and tied for allowing the most. Things are spiraling down. It would be helpful if Odell Beckham Jr. is healthy and can reel in some Manning long passes for a score.
Head coach Jay Gruden will need to get things going early or he will find he is sitting on a hot seat. QB Kirk Cousins is gone from his mediocre career in Washington. Alex Smith, 34 yr-old for Chiefs quarterback, is the starter. The Redskins are hoping Derrius Guice, their second-round pick in the NFL Draft can be a star quickly. In the previous three seasons, the Redskins are 9-7, 8-7-1, and 7-9 and things haven’t appeared to improve.
The defense wasn’t very good last year as they ranked 21st in points allowed and 27th over. So management decided to fix it. They hire a new coach, Matt Patricia, that previously masterminded the New England Patriots defense. The Lions call upon quarterback Matthew Stafford to lead the team and continue to find Golden Tate and Marvin Jones for plenty of scoring. On the ground, we find second-round pick Kerryon Johnson as a possible impact player along with LeGarrette Blount for rack up points. This team has never won a playoff game (0-9) in its history.
It’s a good thing to have a quarterback contest for the starting spot. Sam Bradford had the spot and then got hurt. Enter Case Keenum who had lightning in a bottle an won games. But wait, they signed Kirk Cousins as their quarterback even though former draft pick Teddy Bridgewater is hoping to return to form. Cousins has some top-notch receivers to throw to in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. The defense still has several Pro Bowlers to work with and added several cornerbacks to help keep opponents out of the end zone.
Green Bay Packers
Third place is staring Aaron Rodgers in the face. He plays without his longtime favorite target in Jordy Nelson, however, the addition of Jimmy Graham will lessen that blow. Head coach Mike McCarty still relies on Clay Mathews to anchor the defense. The Packers haven’t been back to the playoffs in a while but new defense appears to keep things stable.
The offense last year was rotten. That is likely the thing that got their coach fired and new coach Matt Nagy gets the job just nine years removed from the high school coaching ranks. Mitchell Trubisky will need to step up from his first season as now has a couple of weapons in receiver Allen Robinson and running back Jordan Howard. In the previous four seasons, the Bears are 4-20 in their division. This team still needs help.
New Orleans Saints
This is their season. Coach Sean Payton had this team to five consecutive playoffs before last year. Quarterback and future Hall of Famer Drew Brees will be 38 yrs-old soon but he seems to be getting better as the year’s pass. He will be loaded with a d=back field of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II. The defense is one of the best as they were 10th in points allowed along with being a sack machine.
The Falcons did win 10 games but fell short of their 2016 season when they went to the Super Bowl. The defense is still good but quarterback Matt Ryan wasn’t able to replicate his previous season. The entire offense slipped as Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones weren’t able to put up special numbers. This is still a good team and fo better with the signing of Calvin Ridley.
Quarterback Cam Newton needs to mirror his 2015 Super Bowl season to jump-start this offense. The management did help with Christian McCafferty and D.J. Moore on board to glide to the end zone from their receiver spots. One area that could help this team is if tight end Greg Olson is healthy as he dealt with tight foot problems last year. Head Coach Ron Rivera always has his team ready to play.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston and his passing game might have been the one bright spot of the Bucs. Otherwise, the team has been in last place six of the previous seven seasons. Look for running back Ronald Jones II to help out after being selected in the second round of the draft. Not much going in Tampa.
Los Angeles Rams
Head coach Sean McVay made his first year as a head coach a good one as the Rams moved away from the previous record of 4-12 to go to the playoffs. Jared Goff, the quarterback, tossed 28 touchdowns with seven interceptions to lead the offense. Todd Gurley II showed his true abilities as he accumulated 1,305 yards. The Rams are loaded with a Pro Bowler at kicker, punter, and return man along with signing for Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peers, and Brandin cooks to load up the team.
San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo is the quarterback and has set the fanbase on fire with a 5-0 start to his career. Richard Sherman comes over from the Seahawks and Jimmy Ward as the new safety. Defense is he stable here with a quarterback that doesn’t have a large track record.
The Seahawks are steady. They have had six straight winning seasons with two Super Bowl appearance. That was until 2017 when they fell short. Head coach Pete Carroll still has Russell Wilson at quarterback. Doug Baldwin at receiver, linebacker Bobby Wagner but lost vocal leader Richard Sherman. Seattle really comes up short in the running game.
Arizona went out and grab a risky hire, Steve Wilks, as their head coach. He has several lower levels positions but that didn’t slow down the management from making the move. The offense was lethargic last year as they ranked 22nd among all NFL teams. Veteran Sam Bradford is around to quarterback this team and likely to mentor Josh Rosen to be the star of the future. The defense will be a problem as only four return for another season in Arizona.
Be sure to check out all the National Football Leagues articles at KnupSports!