Thursday, August 29, 2013

NFL Preview: NFC East and NFC North

     Now that I've already covered the AFC, I will take a look at what awaits for the NFC starting with the NFC East and the NFC North.

     NFC East
  1. New York Giants: In a weakened division that is pretty much up for grabs, the NFC East could come down to the Week 17 match-up between Washington and the New York Giants. Victor Cruz (86 receptions, 1,092 receiving yards, ten touchdowns) will carry a majority of the offense for the Giants along with Eli Manning (59.9% passes completed, 3,946 passing yards, 26 TDs). Also keep an eye out for RB David Wilson; he could have a breakout season this year. The G-Men must avoid falling into the usual 2nd-half swoon if they're in playoff contention by mid-November, especially with that diminished defensive line.
  2. Washington Redskins: This team will go as far as RGIII will take them. The 2nd overall pick in the 2012 draft (3,200 passing yards, 65.6% passes completed, 20 passing touchdowns) had 12 fumbles last year (9 of those were rushing), so that will be something to work on. He also has knee problems that originated in the postseason, so it'll be interesting to see how his knee holds up. One thing that RGIII can also do is run the ball; he ran the ball 120 times and gained 815 yards and scored 7 TDs. Griffin and Alfred Morris (1,613 rushing yards on 335 carries, 13 TDs) will head the rushing attack for Washington. 
  3. Dallas Cowboys: Rob Ryan is out as defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys, but the base 4-3 defense will be in. This means that Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware will move to defensive ends. However, the secondary will be tested on deep passes; the Cowboys were the only team last year without an interception on a pass of 20 yards or more. They also ranked 29th in completion percentage allowed on downfield passes of 20 yards or more with 46.2. Another interesting storyline will be how well Tony Romo will do with his new contract. In 2012, Romo completed 65.6% of his passes for 4,903 yards and 28 TDs. However, he threw 19 INTs. Will Romo breakthrough in the big moment or will he wither away? Lots of question marks with this Cowboys team.
  4. Philadelphia Eagles: The new blur offense that head coach Chip Kelly will be showcasing this season will be perfect for Michael Vick. It's a zone read offense that was popularized at the University of Oregon and is very fast-paced. The defense will be a big question mark for the Eagles, but Philadelphia should be a fun team to watch on the offensive side of the ball.
     NFC North
  1. Green Bay Packers: Will Aaron Rodgers be hurt by losing Bryan Bulaga for the year? Well, Rodgers was sacked less often with Bulaga off of the field last year. He also had more time in the pocket, had a better total QBR, and averaged more yards per attempt without Bulaga. Also, losing Bulaga for the season isn't the Packers' biggest concern; there seems to be a lack of a running game (the Pack ranked 20th in rushing yards per game last year with 106.4). There are also issues with the secondary and certain parts of the special teams.
  2. Chicago Bears: Gone is Lovie Smith as head coach of the Bears after another 2nd-half collapse last season. Also gone is Brian Urlacher, who retired after negotiations with the Bears over a new contract fell apart. So this will be a new look team in the Windy City with new coach Marc Trestman. I like the fact that the Bears finally addressed the issue concerning their offensive line by drafting offensive guard Kyle Long and signing offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod.
  3. Detroit Lions: Reggie Bush will be a great addition to the Lions, but for a completely different reason. Bush is a Larry Centers-type who had 986 rushing yards and 292 receiving yards last year with the Dolphins. In addition to giving the Lions a bit of a running game, he provides Matthew Stafford with another throwing option. The rest of the running game will be hinged upon how well the O-Line does for Detroit this year. Another question to think about is can Calvin Johnson have a season like he did last year (122 receptions, 1,964 yards, five TDs).
  4. Minnesota Vikings: Now I'm not guaranteeing that Adrian Peterson (2,097 rushing yards and 12 TDs on 348 carries) will do better than last year. But Peterson has proven to be a legitimate threat in the backfield and should have another great season. However, he will likely be the Vikings' only means of offense; Minnesota ranked 31st in passing yards per game last year with 171.9. The Vikes drafted Cordarrelle Patterson with the 29th pick and acquired Greg Jennings in the offseason. Patterson is a project and Jennings is an injury risk, so Christian Ponder will have his hands full with the passing game this year. Still, this is a team that should finish no worse than 8-8 this year with the defensive line holding down the fort. Everson Griffen (8.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles) and Jared Allen (45 tackles, 12.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble) will be forces to be reckoned with.


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