Hierarchy of the NFC

Throughout the season, we’ll be updating this, and adding the “obituary” section as well for those teams whose seasons are pretty much over.  I thought it would be fun to get the first installment on record, pre free agency, and look back on it later as the season progresses.  We’ll do one again after free agency shakes out, and once after every week of the season.  So without further ado, the first installment of “Obituaries, and the hierarchy of the NFC.”

Panthers – Starting over

New head coach, new QB, and its two best offensive players (DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith) may be leaving town.  If Cam Newton somehow finds a way to win 5 games, he could be the Rookie of the Year.

Redskins – (Hopefully) Blowing it up

This time last year, the Redskins were the oldest team in the NFC East in 10 of 13 categories that I identified.  That would have been fine if they had a roster capable of competing for a title, but obviously, they didn’t.  They opted to go all in last offseason, continuing the ugly pattern of trading away draft picks for aging, declining vets, which backfired, as usual.

I praised their draft this year and think they’re moving in the right direction.  As free agency approaches, it’ll be interesting to see if they continue to overpay for players that aren’t going to get them over the hump (with the hump being miles away), or if they are committed to patiently building a winner.

The entire NFC West – Junk

Last year the NFC West sent a team to the playoffs that was totally undeserving.  They even got a home game.  The same thing is going to happen this year.  The Rams are getting better and the Cardinals would be instant favorites in my eyes if they trade for Kevin Kolb, but I don’t really want to give this division any more attention than it deserves.

Lions – Tap the breaks

Much like the Texans and 49ers of recent years, the Lions are THAT TEAM this year that everyone is overrating.  I get it.  They sucked so famously for so long that it’s almost kind of fun to root for them.  And now they have some legitimate star players.  Calvin Johnson is a star.  Ndamukong Suh is already a star after just one year.  Coach Jim Schwartz has given his defensive line a nickname. They finished the season with 4 straight wins.  They had a fantastic draft.  I get all that.  But let’s not get crazy.  This team still has holes galore, particularly along their OL, and is still at least a year, maybe 2 away from legitimately competing for anything close to a SB run.

Vikings – Darkhorse

Nobody’s talking about the Vikings, but let’s not forget that they still have no shortage of impact players on a really good defense, and a running attack that still features one of the best 2-3 RB’s in the game.   Back in the day, that’s all it took sometimes to win the SB.  It’s different now, obviously, but if they can sign a QB like Matt Hasselbeck  or Donovan McNabb while Christian Ponder sits and watches for a year, I see no reason this team can’t make some noise in the NFC North this season.  On a side note, on a recent trip to Vegas I bought the Vikes at 9/1 to win the NFC North.

Cowboys – Better than their 6-10 record of a year ago, but by how much?

It looks like I’ve found my annoying theme that I’ll harp on for a while with the Cowboys this offseason – Not franchising Doug Free was insanely stupid. Free was the ONE free agent that the Cowboys absolutely, positively could not afford to lose, and by not tagging him, Jerry Jones stands to lose either his only good young offensive lineman, or they’re going to have to give him a monster deal.  The OL, even with Free, remains a major point of concern for the Cowboys in ’11, a unit that couldn’t give the Cowboys’ QB’s enough time to throw the ball down field or open up holes in the run game.  They also have major holes in the secondary and defensive line, and will have trouble finding ways to pay even “band-aid” type players that can help, due to the cap hell they created.

Stephen Jones is going to have to work some major miracles on the payroll.

Buccaneers – Tap the breaks, Part 2

Golf clap to the Bucs for going 10-6 last year.  What a great job Raheem Morris did with that group last year, coming out of nowhere to win 10 games in 2010.  This is a nice young team with what looks to be a legitimate NFL QB in Josh Freeman, and from the admittedly limited chances to see these guys play last season, I was impressed.  Still though, I just look at this roster and can’t help but feel like they too are a year or two away.

Giants – “Shorting”

From Wikipedia: Short (finance)

In finance, short selling (also known as shorting or going short) is the practice of selling assets, usually securities, that have been borrowed from a third party (usually a broker) with the intention of buying identical assets back at a later date to return to the lender. It is a form of reverse trading. Mathematically, it is equivalent to buying a “negative” amount of the assets. The short seller hopes to profit from a decline in the price of the assets between the sale and the repurchase, as the seller will pay less to buy the assets than the seller received on selling them. Conversely, the short seller will incur a loss if the price of the assets rises. Other costs of shorting may include a fee for borrowing the assets and payment of any dividends paid on the borrowed assets. “Shorting” and “going short” also refer to entering into any derivative or other contract under which the investor profits from a fall in the value of an asset.

Going short can be contrasted with the more conventional practice of “going long”, whereby an investor profits from any increase in the price of the asset.

If the Giants (as a football team within this hierarchy) were a stock on the open market, I’d be shorting the S*** out of them.  For me, it begins and ends with their old and declining OL.  Throw in the fact that the Giants are strapped for cap space, have a boatload of their own key free agents to re-sign, and I don’t see how they can improve in free agency.  This is a team that is on the decline.  This time next year, we may be talking about them as a team in the bottom half of the NFC.

Bears – Solid offense, solid defense, but nothing special

Fix your field, a-holes.

Falcons – Not as good as they think they are

How many receivers currently playing in the NFL are worthy of (2) first round picks, a second round pick, and (2) fourth round picks?  I could probably be convinced to give up that kind of bounty for an Andre Johnson, but I think that might be it.  The Falcons clearly think they’re just one player away from winning it all, because that’s what they gave up to select Alabama WR Julio Jones.  Did they already forget what Aaron Rodgers did to their defense in the playoffs?  The Falcons are more than just a player away.

Eagles and Saints – A notch below the Packers

Scary-good offenses, holes on D.  The Saints grabbed two players in this draft that should contribute immediately in Mark Ingram and Cameron Jordan.  Both teams should be looking to add pieces to the D in free agency, particularly the Eagles.

Packers – The champs

Best team in the NFL.

18 Comments

  1. Tracer Bullet says:

    I don’t know why the Cardinals would immediately become the division favorites with Kolb. The 49ers would be clearly superior at every position except QB, WR, CB and S depending on how you feel about Mays. I can see why the Cardinals might be the favorite, but it doesn’t look like a no-brainer.

      1. Tracer Bullet says:

        I get that those are good odds, but still don’t think they’re so much better than SFO to assume they’d walk away with that division.

        1. I’m not saying they’ll walk away with it. Just saying they’d be the favorites.

  2. Phillies0100 says:

    Nice write-up, keep up the good work

  3. GmenHQ says:

    There’s no way the Giants are in decline. Rookie OL stand-ins played better than the starters on that aging OL. If they retain Shawn Andrews, whose back is in great shape according to him (twitter) they have enough depth to be dangerous yet again in the trenches.

    Lots of free agents coming up, but I think they re-sign Bradshaw, Steve Smith, and possibly Kevin Boss. They will probably make a splash in FA themselves

    A good defensive draft leaves them with depth in key DL and DB positions — they just announced theyre bringing in a new ST coordinator….

    they are getting several players back from injury — the Giants will be in good if not great shape in 2011.

    1. 1 – Shawn Andrews’ back was always feeling great on Twitter when he was an Eagle, too.
      2 – Andrews is a pretty good candidate to be cut anyway, as he has an absurd contract for a backup / situational TE in the jumbo package.
      3 – I can certainly agree that they’ll push hard to re-sign Bradshaw, Smith, and Boss, and will likely get it done. But they’re not making a splash otherwise. The Giants are in a terrible cap situation right now.
      4 – Unless you’re talking about something that happened today that I haven’t heard about yet, the Giants aren’t bringing in a new ST coordinator. They hired Larry Izzo to work under Quinn.
      5 – Are the Giants really getting more impact guys back from injury more so than the typical NFL team?

    2. By the way, I think I’ve linked to you guys a few times. Which one are you?

    3. plektor says:

      I wish I could be that optimistic.

      No matter who we have on the field, we’re not getting anywhere with that staff.
      Fewell is soft, Killdrive well, he’s got this red zone autism and option routes love, and we know the deal about Quinn : he sucks. Ccoughlin being as good (or bad !) as his coordinators, we’re not gonna do much before this bunch is gone.

      We don’t have a center, no LG except if Diehl plays there. But then, we have no LT !
      Dline, which was supposed to be our strenght may be full of holes come september.
      The running game is looking like it’s gonna be good until Bradshaw slows down, that’s early november. And I’m not taking into account point #1 about the Oline here.
      Our LBs … no, I’m not even going there.
      We have decent press CBs who are being used in off coverage and our S have to play semi LB which expose them to big plays.

      We have no money for FA, which is alright as Reese only overpay low production guys : Canty, Bernard, Rolle, Boley, Andrews.

    4. smutsboy says:

      I don’t see it. Which players are we talking about?

      “Rookie OL stand-ins played better than the starters on that aging OL. “>

      1. Yeah, I left that one alone. The only rookie would have been Mitch Petrus, who filled in at LG in a couple games (he didn’t start any). That’s it.

  4. The Legend says:

    1) Jonathan Stewart is better then DeAngelo Williams so the Panthers won’t be losing there two best players 2) I would definately give up a lot to get Andre Johnson but another is Calvin Johnson, if he wasn’t with Detroit I think him not Andre would possibly be regarded as the best in the NFL 3) agree on the Bears & Falcons I’m still laughing that the Falcons gave up so much to get Jones

    1. Look at Williams’ 2008 season. When he’s healthy he’s one of the best in the game.

      1. slandog says:

        Agree with you Jimmy. Stewart is good, but not as good as Williams. Also, Williams is injury prone a bit, but so is Stewart. At least when Williams is in there he is consistant and can be very good.

      2. The Legend says:

        That was 3 seasons ago, the last two seasons Stewart has been the better back & he has had to deal with injuries as well. Brian Dawkins & Brian Westbrook were pretty good players in 2008 they must still be some of the best in the game heading into the 2011 season.

        1. C’mon man. You know you’re my boy and all, but do I really need to point out why the comparison between Dawkins/Westbrook to DeAngelo Williams is silly?

          1. The Legend says:

            I know it was silly, that is why I did it. It’s silly to use 3 years ago as an example, players get better/worse/same. The last two years Jonathan Stewart has been a better player, in his rookie year(08′) he was not.

            1. Adamnb87 says:

              I think Jimmy was referring to the fact that:

              ’08 Dawkins: 34 years old (but over performing for his age at the time)
              ’11 Dawkins: 37 years old
              ’08 Westbrook: 28 years old
              ’11 Westbrook: 31 years old
              ’08 Williams: 25 years old
              ’11 Williams: 28 years old

              DeAngelo Williams should still be capable of performing at the highest level of his career, if healthy.
              Westbrook is on the wrong side of 30 and has taken a beating over his career.
              Dawkins is just getting way up there in age…and there’s the fact that he’s not a HB.

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