So there still is a fight going on between the networks and fans. Which is better? Getting all the games on DirectTV or watching NFL RedZone? I’d have to go with NFL RedZone as you don’t get any of the players standing around. It’s all action, all the time. I’d rather watch that than flip back and forth between games.
Anyway, we’re in the second week of Preseason and two things are absolutely clear right now. I don’t give a shit about the Jets and Peyton Manning. We get it. Tebow plays for the Jets now and Peyton Manning plays for the Broncos. There are other teams out there. Thirty other teams to be exact. So let’s talk about them too.
Since I am now in three fantasy leagues I’m starting to think about who I’d pick for the important offensive positions, though one league also has defensive players as well. Who are the underdogs that are going to blow up this season? How about Cedric Benson? He’s playing for the Packers now, who have been terrible in the backfield. How about Peyton Hillis over on the Chiefs? Dude can run. Regardless, finding that hidden gem in the draft is going to be fun. Today however, we’re talking about the NFC North.
Ok, not to give too much away but Calvin Johnson is my #1 fantasy pick. How can he not be? The Stafford to Johnson connection was brutally awesome last year, and looks to continue this year. The trick for the Lions though, is finishing games, and that’s on the defense. They need to get Suh back to 2010 strength, killing offensive lines.
I do worry about the Lions in the backfield though. Due to Javid Best suffering a billion fucking concussions (he should really just retire before he dies) I don’t see him playing a full career of football. It’s too bad, he was a great runner. Meanwhile Mikel Leshoure gets a second chance at a rookie season after being injured all last year. I’m surprised the Lions didn’t make a serious move for Benson, or pick up a RB late in the draft.
So where does that leave the Lions? It leaves them between a Green place and a Bears place, that’s where it leaves them. As of this moment in time, no matter how many touchdown connections there are between Stafford and Johnson I don’t see the Lions topping the Bears and Packers at all this season. I’d love to predict this team to hit the playoffs (as I did last year) but I’m degrading their manes to just a winning season at best.
Projected Finish: 9-7
Green Bay Packers
Good for Matt Flynn. Kid had a huge game at the end of last season and was able to land a nice contract for a starting job that probably won’t last. Can anyone say Matt Cassell? Anywho, it looks like Rodgers is backed up by who-dat Graham Harrell, out of Texas Tech and draft pick #243 B.J. Coleman out of Tennessee-Chattanooga. The reason I mention this, is for all of Green Bay’s pluses on offense, Rodgers was sacked a lot last year and may need a break at some point later in the season due to minor injury. He’s no Rothlesburger.
The major change is that Ryan Grant is out at running back and Cedric Benson is getting another shot to be the man. I dunno. I’m thinking James Starks will end up being the major player here when it comes to the run game, which ranked 27th overall last year. That sucks for a team that won so many games and once again went to the NFC Championship. Though they say defense wins championships, so what about the defense?
Clay Matthews. Need I say more? Ok, how about adding USC DE Nick Perry? That dude is a monster and will surely compliment Matthews on the line. The sad thing about defense is that Charles Woodson is still the go-to corner. The guy is one of the greats, but doesn’t have the speed some of the younger guys do. Basically, if the Packers come out strong on defense this year, they’ll easily coast to the playoffs. I’m a little wary of the defense at this point though, so I’m knocking them down a couple wins because of that.
Projected Finish: 13-3
Backup QB Jason Campbell, RB Michael Bush and WR Brandon Marshall join a Bears offense that never seems to find its stride when they need it. Mike Martz is gone as offensive coordinator, replaced by the slightly more aggressive Mike Tice. Tice, once head coach of the Vikings, has a style much unlike Martz, you know, simpler. Martz and his overcomplicated offensive schemes with little room for improvisation will not be missed by Bears faithful. Last year, even I was yelling at the television when he made some of the strangest and ill timed play calls, that even if they had been successful would still have failed.
Urlacher will be ready for the season, and Peppers is still one of the best defensive players in the game, but the question on defense is that of secondary play. Basically, are they good enough to beat the Packers offense? I don’t think so. I like the drafting of safety Brandon Hardin out of Oregon State, but rarely do rookies at that position become game changers. Who knows?
The real issue with the Bears though, is going to be Brandon Marshall. That guy can either be the best or the most destructive in the club house. I’m thinking that when the Bears start losing, and they will, he’ll lead the self implosion and Lovie Smith doesn’t have the heart to smack his guys around. The Bears are in for another roller coaster season as they teams around them continue to improve.
Projected Finish: 8-8
First, the good news. Christian Ponder is the QB of the future for this team. Last season he showed great poise and pocket presence, only breaking down late in games. That kind of behavior can be taught out of him, and I think adding another young receiver like Jerome Simpson is a good move to give Ponder some solid targets. Also, like Hester in Chicago, Percy Harvin remains a wild-card on offense and special teams. He can turn around the tempo of a game in a heartbeat.
That’s it for the good news. The bad news is that Adrian Peterson is coming off an ACL and MCL injury, so if you are thinking of drafting him first in your fantasy league, think again. I’m guessing with the way that the Vikings offensive line is looking (bad) he’ll be taking way too many hits behind the line of scrimmage. Then there is the departure of probably the best kicker in the league, Ryan Longwell. He’ll be replaced with a rookie. Interesting how valuable kickers are when you miss them.
As for the defense, the Vikings drafted three secondary players if that tells you anything. Their secondary is a mess and I don’t think rookies are going to be the ones to fix it. The Vikings defense is going to be a huge sore point, especially in a division with three other teams with explosive offenses. That’s at least six losses right there. Yeah, I’m not smelling good scents for this team.
Projected Finish: 3-13