Fight! Fight! Fi-i-ight! September 25, 2010Posted by Matt in Football.
Tags: Alabama, Arkansas Razorbacks, calling the hogs, Football, keys to winning
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You can hear the clarion call ringing out across the land, from the Ozark mountaintops to the Delta lowland, from the undefiled countryside to the traffic-choked city. All around us, men, women and children rise to their feet, raise their hands in the air and issue the rallying cry of old, the call to arms for a people.
Woo Pig Sooie!
Today as the glorious morning sun shines across the great state of Arkansas thousands of the devoted don their red and white, their plastic porcine proboscis, with visions of glorious victories dancing in their heads. Might this be another great upset victory, a 2010 version of the 1978 Orange Bowl? Could we be witnessing another historic moment in a story marked by celebrated conquests and crushing defeats?
Today, the number one ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, the incredibly talented defending national champions, are rolling into Northwest Arkansas to take on the tenth ranked Razorbacks in a battle of untold implications. After three games Alabama has looked unbeatable, their ironclad defense and powerful offense running roughshod over all who dare stand in their way. Arkansas has played well, seeming to hit their stride at the end of last week’s Georgia game when quarterback Ryan Mallett led them down the field to a last minute victory.
So, the question must be asked, what does Arkansas need to win this game today? In my mind, there are three keys.
Offense: Though their aerial attack is second to none, the Hogs need to establish and effective running game. If they can find a hidden hole in the brick wall that is ‘Bama’s defense, they could make some noise.
Defense: Limiting last year’s Heisman winner Mark Ingram seems to be a nearly impossible task, but the improved Razorback defense will have to find some way to contain him and the rest of the Tide’s offense to stand a chance today.
An Act of God: Whatever it takes, an earthquake, a tornado, a zombie invasion, something to slow down the unstoppable Crimson Tide.
Truthfully, I don’t think we stand much of a chance, but there is still a small wellspring of hope in my soul, for in the world of college football anything is possible.
It’s Still Fake Football To Me… June 10, 2010Posted by Matt in sports.
Tags: America, anti-soccer, apathy, Football, World Cup
Every four years it happens. Countries from across the globe gather together in a show of camaraderie and sportsmanship to compete on the biggest stage in the world. Millions or maybe even billions of people tune in, cheering on their home nations as they battle for the prize of global dominance: The World Cup.
Meanwhile, here in America, we don’t care. Despite the fact that our 24 hour sports networks and radio shows tout the importance of said event, it is little more than a minor blip on our radar between the NBA playoffs, Major League Baseball, and, most important of all, offseason football. The only things I can remember about past American soccer teams are that guy that looked like the singer from the Spin Doctors and the woman who scored a goal and took her shirt off.
Do you know why we don’t care? Because its soccer.
You can try to hide its true nature by calling it “football,” but we all know what it is – a sport for girls and for those boys who are too big of pansies to play real football. And really, the only adults who care at all for the sport are some elitist brand of people who tout their multiculturalism by watching a game that can last hours and end in a 0-0 tie. In my book that’s called torture. Seriously, if I’m ever captured by an enemy of the U.S. they can put a soccer match on and I’ll tell them anything they want to know.
So, good luck U.S. team, even though I won’t be cheering you on personally. I have much more exciting things to do like, I don’t know…anything…
Only 84 days ‘til football season!
Thanksgiving with an Alien November 26, 2009Posted by Matt in holiday.
Tags: alien, deer hunting, explanation, Football, thanksgiving, turkey
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Last night while lying in bed I had the strangest experience. There was a light outside the bedroom window and this unnatural humming sound. Diana lay sound asleep, so I quietly crept over to the glass so as to keep from waking her. What I saw came as a complete surprise.
On my front lawn sat a flying saucer with lights whirring about like a disco ball in the dark November night. Suddenly, a door opened and out stepped an honest-to-God alien. The short-statured fellow looked just how you might imagine, with green skin and antennae and three eyes! Though its mouth didn’t move, I suddenly heard a voice echoing about in my head.
“Hello Earthling. We have traveled many light years across the galaxy to see the magnificent culture of your planet.”
“Yes. Tell me about your planet, Earthling.”
“Well, umm…,” my thoughts were clouded for a moment with questions of how one describes an entire world to an outside creature. Finally I blurted out, “Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.”
“What is this Thanksgiving?”
“Well, it’s a time when we gather around with friends and family for a big meal and to give thanks for all that we have.”
“I see, and what do you Earthlings eat for this Thanksgiving meal?”
“We usually have a turkey,” seeing the look of confusion in the creature’s three eyes I continued, “it’s a bird. We buy a bird that has been killed and has had its feathers plucked.”
An obvious look of revulsion suddenly flashed across the alien’s face, “A bird?”
“Yeah, we take the bird and shove stuffing up its rear end and roast it in the oven.”
“That sounds horrible!”
“Oh no, actually its quite good. We eat a big meal of turkey and other dishes together then we lay around and watch football.”
“What is this football?”
“Why it’s a game played by men with a ball made from a pig skin.”
“So, after stuffing things in the rear end of a dead bird and eating it you lay around and watch grown men play a game with a pig carcass?”
“Yeah, but some people go deer hunting as well.”
“Yeah, that’s where you sit in a tree and wait for a deer to walk below you. When it does, you shoot it, cut it’s head off and stick it on the wall.”
A look of horror flashed across the aliens three eyes and, in a moment, it and the flying saucer were gone, never to be seen again.
Have a happy Thanksgiving!
2009 BCS Musings November 2, 2009Posted by Matt in Football.
Tags: Alabama, BCS Championship, Boise St., Cincinnati, FBS, Florida, Football, Iowa, NCAA, Oregon, TCU, Texas
It is hard to believe that the 2009 college football regular season is already 2/3 of the way finished, but somehow time has gotten away and the finish line is quickly approaching. The third quarter of the season is well underway, the fourth is soon to begin and the field of competitors is narrowing. At this point, there are 7 undefeated teams remaining that are still in contention for a coveted spot in the BCS Championship game. So, as a service to you, I wanted to do a bit of handicapping so that you would know what to look for in the coming weeks.
1. Florida Gators 8-0
The Gators have beaten some decent teams, including then-#4 LSU 13-3, Tennessee 23-13, and Arkansas 23-20, but their win in the previous weekend against Georgia 41-17, was their first convincing one in weeks. Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow may have righted the ship against the Bulldogs and they should be able to coast through the next four games. South Carolina and Florida State may put up a fight, but neither is on the same level as Florida. The Gators can go ahead and reserve their spot in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.
2. Texas 8-0
I haven’t been a big believer in the Longhorns all season, despite their victories over a good Texas Tech team (34-24) and a talented but underachieving Oklahoma (16-13). This past week’s victory, a 41-14 trouncing of then-#13 Oklahoma St, has finally proved them to be contenders in 2009. Texas has a fairly uneventful stretch ahead of them, with the greatest possibility for upset probably being a regular season-ending trip to Texas A&M. With a weak North Division opponent to meet in the conference championship game, the Longhorns are almost a sure thing for the BCS Championship game.
3. Alabama 8-0
With the lone exception of last week’s close call against an improving Tennessee squad, Alabama has been exceptional this season, having posted convincing wins against then-#7 Virginia Tech (34-24), then-#20 Ole Miss (22-3), and then-#22 South Carolina (20-6). Next week’s matchup against #9 LSU will be a nice test for the Crimson Tide and their regular season-ending trip to Auburn could also prove to be problematic. They should be set for Atlanta, but they have a tougher road ahead than the Gators.
4. Cincinnati 8-0
With only one victory against a top 25 opponent, defeating then-#21 South Florida 34-17, the Bearcats have something still to prove in order to move up in the BCS rankings. Their schedule ahead offers what could prove to be tough games against West Virginia and at #14 Pittsburgh, so convincing wins in their last 4 games could help Cincy out some, but they really need one of the top three teams to slip up.
5. Boise St. 8-0
Yes, I know that Boise beat Oregon in the season-opener, but can you think of anybody they’ve beaten since then? With perhaps the exception of Tulsa (who they only beat by a touchdown), my guess would be probably not. Their remaining schedule consists of more teams whose presence would be more appropriate in a high school championship.
6. TCU 8-0
The Horned Frogs have looked great this season in the Mountain West, a strong second-tier conference. They’ve recorded victories against Clemson (14-10) and absolutely trounced then-#16 BYU (38-7). They still have a challenge left on Nov. 14 against #17 Utah, but besides that they should coast through the remainder of their regular season. They will need a lot of help to make it to a Championship game, though.
7. Oregon 7-1
The Ducks are the only team with a loss to make my list for a good reason – they are easily the best team in the Pac-10 Conference. Their one loss to then-#14 Boise State in the season-opener looms large as the Oregon faithful think of what might have been. The Ducks absolutely destroyed two top 10 teams, then-#6 California (42-3) and last week’s rout of then-#4 USC (47-20), so they deserve some kind of consideration. #23 Arizona is probably the only challenge remaining on the schedule, so I expect them to waltz into a BCS game this postseason.
8. Iowa 9-0
I can’t help but feel bad for the Hawkeyes because it is obvious that they are the big losers in this year’s BCS sweepstakes. They have several wins against quality opponents, including then-#5 Penn State (21-10), Michigan (30-28), Wisconsin (20-10), and Arizona (27-17), but because they tend to play down to the level of their competition and rarely record any blow-outs, the AP and Coach’s polls have really shafted the Hawkeyes, despite the fact that the computer polls rank them much higher. Their Nov. 14 matchup with #15 Ohio St will be the measuring stick by which Iowa will be judged. If they win convincingly, they deserve a shot at the title, but in our current system they will most likely be left behind.
It’s Time for Some Football! September 1, 2009Posted by Matt in Football.
Tags: Alabama, arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Football, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, predictions, SEC, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
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The turning of the season from Summer to Fall brings with it a host of happenings – the leaves change colors, the temperatures cool, the holidays grow nearer, and, perhaps greatest of all, its time for football. There is no region of the country that reveres the game like the South, for it is here that mere men become gods and epic gridiron battle become pieces of cultural mythology passed down from generation to generation.
I’m a lifetime Arkansas Razorback fan, one who sticks with them through the good and the bad, so my attention usually remains focused on that greatest of football conferences, the SEC. Below you will find my predictions for the SEC in the coming season. Let me know what you think.
South Carolina 8-4
Ole Mis 10-2
Miss State 3-9
SEC Title Game: Florida def. Alabama
Florida – With QB Tim Tebow and all 12 starters returning on an incredible defense, the Gators look unbeatable…and they just might be. They are the favorites to repeat as national champions for a reason.
Georgia – Despite the losses of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, the Bulldogs will field another excellent squad in 2009. If they can effectively replace those two former stars and improve on defense, Georgia could make some noise this season.
South Carolina – Despite the fact that they have had one of the most highly touted coaches of the past 2 decades, the Gamecocks have not been able to raise themselves out of slightly-better-than-average mediocrity and I don’t expect that to change this season.
Vanderbilt – The Commodores came out of nowhere last season to earn their first bowl trip in more than two decades and, though they will not be an elite team by any stretch of the imagination, they should again play well enough to earn or at least come close to earning a lower-tier bowl invitation.
Tennessee – Lane Kiffin. There’s not much else to say and virtually nothing to be excited about in Knox-Vegas in 2009.
Kentucky – The Wildcats are perennial bottom-dweller in the SEC East and there is nothing that is going to change that this season.
Alabama – They may not do quite as well as last season, but make no mistake about it, the Crimson Tide are an excellent football team. Never doubt the dark powers of Nick Saban.
Ole Miss – It’s no secret that, as a longtime Arkansas fan, I have little regard for the coaching abilities of Houston Nutt. Though the Rebels have been granted one of the easiest schedules around, look for Nutt to mess it up along the way and lose a couple of games at least.
LSU – The Tigers have a good team and could definitely make some major noise this year in the SEC West, perhaps even challenging ‘Bama and Ole Miss for the division, but 8-9 wins seems much more realistic.
Arkansas – In their second season under offensive mastermind Bobby Petrino, the Hogs look to take a big step forward from last season’s underwhelming 5-7 finish. This time around the team will be led by heralded Michigan transfer Ryan Mallet and last year’s top rusher, Michael Smith. Write it down, the Hogs will be bowl game bound…even if its just the Independence Bowl.
Auburn – Head Coach Gene Chizik, along with his career 5-19 record, take the reins of the Tigers this season as Auburn attempts to revive its once-strong program. There isn’t much to cheer about player-wise and not much hope for 2009, but the hiring of offensive guru Gus Malzahn was a good move and could pay nice dividends in the future.
Mississippi State – Sorry State fans, the Bulldogs are just terrible. Again. And nothing is going to change that.
Monday Morning Quarterback 11/17/08 November 17, 2008Posted by Matt in Football, NFL.
Tags: Alabam Crimson Tide, Arkansas Razorbacks, Football, Kurt Warner, New York Giants, NFL, Ole Miss Rebels, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Texas Tech, undefeated season
If you are anything like me, you spend much of your weekend glued to the television watching grown men ram into each other with bone-crunching ferocity while trying to grab a piece of inflated pig epidermis. Here are a few of my observations on the pro and college games from the past weekend:
My apologies to friends who are fans, but the Tennessee Titans are overrated. Does anybody really, truly think that 35 year old perpetual underachiever Kerry Collins can lead them to a Super Bowl victory? With the Jets, Steelers, and Colts still on the schedule, I expect them to finish with at least one and most likely two marks in the “L” column by the end of the season.
Forget about the possibility of Tennessee going undefeated, the real accolades should go to Detroit if they can keep the streak alive and end the season winless, joining the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the top of the “Worst NFL Team Ever” list.
I may be a lifetime Dallas fan, but I have to give some real credit to the 2007 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. Besides an inexplicable three touchdown loss to Cleveland early in the season, they have looked outstanding and are definitely the team to beat.
Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner, at 37 years old, should be the MVP as of right now. Despite his age and the fact that he plays for a longtime laughingstock franchise, it’s like 1999 all over again. His numbers: 3155 yards, 20 TDs vs. 7 Ints, over 70% completion percentage, and a league leading QB rating of 105.8, have placed the Cardinals atop the NFC West and should help cement once-savior Matt Leinart firmly on the bench.
I don’t care if they are number one, undefeated, and have Nick Saban, Alabama will not finish this season undefeated. If they can get by an underachieving Auburn team in the Iron Bowl, the big “L” will almost certainly come from Florida, who are possibly the best team in America.
Though I had my doubts for most of the season, Texas Tech is for real. Even so, they have to win Saturday’s matchup with Oklahoma to really prove it.
Arkansas just completed one of their best weeks of the season, even though for a time I doubted they would come out on top against Open. This week we will be treated to the battle for the bottom of the SEC West between Arkansas and the truly terrible Mississippi State Bulldogs. With a 4-6 record, they will have to win that and defeat LSU to become bowl eligible and earn the golden ticket to beautiful Shreveport.
And of course, congratulations to Ole Miss on becoming bowl eligible. You can look forward to lopsided losses to inferior opponents in second-rate bowl games for years to come. But, then again, I guess anything is preferable to the years under Ed Orgeron.
Game of the Year! October 25, 2008Posted by Matt in Football, Razorbacks.
Tags: arkansas, Football, houston nutt, Ole Miss, vindication
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Well, maybe not, but today’s contest between Ole Miss and Arkansas (both 3-4 overall and 1-3 conference) could be rather interesting. The Razorback boo-birds promise to be in full effect when Darth Nutt takes the field against the team he coached for the past ten years. While Ole Miss is more talented and definitely the favorite, I can’t help but smile at just how wonderful it would be to bask in the glow of a Hogs victory…
And for Rebel fans, enjoy the next several seasons of 7-5 and 8-4 football, with only bad fourth quarter play-calling to keep you from taking the next step forward. And then, just when it looks as though the ship may have righted itself and the next tier actually seems possible, watch in utter disbelief as the boat not only runs aground, but bursts into flames, leaving behind just a pile of ash where this edifice of your pride once stood.
I know I’ll enjoy it…
Monday Morning Quarterback September 29, 2008Posted by Matt in Football.
Tags: college, Football, NFL, upsets
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What a weekend in the football world! If you are like me, then you were glued to your television in disbelief Saturday watching team after team fall from the AP-ordained pedestal, making the gap between David and Goliath look much more manageable than ever before.
A few of my observations from the past few days.
- When was the last time that 3 out of the top 5 ranked teams lost in one week? I guess we should have known something was up when top-ranked USC dropped one to Oregon St. on Thursday, but who could have guessed that it would just be the beginning?
- Perhaps I’m just vindictive, but, man, I hated to see Ole Miss and Houston Nutt pull the upset on Florida. Now this isn’t because I’m a Gator fan by any means, I’m just a Nutt anti-fan and now I’m being forced to listen to all of my Rebel-loving neighbors. No worries, though, when he loses a few close ones due to poor fourth quarter play-calling (which, no doubt, will happen) my feelings will be justified and my glee unrestrained.
- Can we, as fans of the Arkansas Razorbacks, go ahead and call the season off now? After two weeks in a row of embarassingly one-sided losses in which we’ve given up a total of 101 points, I have trouble believing that we can win another game this season. Even our remaining nonconference opponent, Tulsa, looks awfully intimidating with former Arkansas OC Gus Malzahn calling the plays.
- On the NFL front, I still feel pretty good about my Dallas Cowboys, despite their loss to Washington yesterday. The team that has surprised me the most so far as to be the Tennessee Titans, though I can’t help but wonder how long 35 year old QB Kerry Collins will be able to shoulder the load before imploding.
Any thoughts from you out there? Is Nick Saban really the second coming? Was the Tennessee – Auburn game one of the biggest wastes of 3 hours in your life? Will my fantasy football teams ever bounce back?
(Not So) Hog Wild September 8, 2008Posted by Matt in Football, Razorbacks.
Tags: Arkansas Razorbacks, Bobby Petrino, Football, SEC
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Well, the Bobby Petrino era has gotten off to a rough start for my Arkansas Razorbacks, which by nearly all accounts (except for Jimmy from Grapevine) was to be expected. While the team is 2-0, the fact that their two wins have come by a total of 5 points against those mighty football powerhouses of Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe, have me a bit concerned.
On the good side, quarterback Casey Dick is playing the best football of his career, having already thrown 75 passes (which is probably more than the past two seasons combined) and broken 300 yards in each of the two games. Seven different players have at least 4 total receptions, as well, showing that the offense is spreading the balla around more than in recent years. It was also nice to see the return of running back Michael Smith on Saturday as he racked up 157 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
On the other hand, did either of these wins even come against division 1 schools? Has anybody even heard of Western Illinois? Barring an unforeseen miracle, the Hogs will be lucky to win more than one or two additional games this season. Their next four contests are against ranked opponents – Texas (8), Alabama (11), Florida (4), and Auburn (9). Following that, they have games against a decent Kentucky team (who beat them last year when the Hogs had much better talent), Ole Miss (who have both superior talent to ours and Houston [boo!]), and Tulsa (one of the top offensive teams in the nation due to former Arkansas OC Gus Malzahn). Then there is a decent South Carolina team (don’t ever count out Spurrier), Mississippi St., and seventh-ranked defending national champions LSU.
Ouch. We made it through the atrocious Jack Crow and Danny Ford years, so I have no doubt that we can weather this season and, who knows, if Petrino sticks around longer than 1-2 seasons there should be better days around the corner.
2008 NFL Predictions – NFC August 26, 2008Posted by Matt in NFL.
Tags: 2008, Football, NFC, NFL, predictions
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Last week I posted my AFC predictions here.
Every year I make a habit of giving you my predictions for the upcoming football season at no charge whatsoever. Though they tend to lack the characteristic of “correctness,” it is still fun to break down the numbers and see what we come up with. So, without further ado, the 2008 NFL predictions.
Dallas – In 2008, the Cowboys asserted themselves as the offensive juggernaut in the NFC, rampaging through opponents until QB Tony Romo’s costly playoff mistake ended their season earlier than expected. Rookie Felix Jones’ elusive running style should complement Marion Barber’s powerful style and, even with the departure of WR Terry Glenn, the passing game is in excellent shape. The defense is again powerful and should rate as one of the better ones in the league. Dallas should easily win their division and have a great shot at going deep in the playoffs.
New York Giants – Last year’s surprise Super Bowl champions have their work cut out for them this season after losing several key players, including TE Jeremy Shockey to free agency, DE Michael Strahan (who now may return) to retirement and DE Osi Umenyiora to preseason injury. Eli is still an average quarterback at best and the offense seems destined for sputtering through game after game, meaning that the Giants will again have to lean on their defense and its now terribly depleted front four. Look for New York to struggle to reach .500 this season.
Philadelphia – Times have been tough in Philly over the last few seasons, as the Eagles have consistently hovered around the .500 mark and strengthened their reputation for mediocrity. One of the reasons for this under-performance has been the various injuries that continue to plague QB Donovan McNabb and the lack of receiving targets for him to throw to. Brian Westbrook is an elite running back, though, and the combination of he and McNabb is one to be reckoned with. Philadelphia has a tough defense, particulary in an All Pro-filled secondary that includes Asante Samuel, Lito Shepherd, and 6 time Pro Bowler Brian Dawkins. The team could make a run for a wild card spot this season if they remain healthy, but otherwise look for more mediocrity.
Washington – New coach Jim Zorn has his work cut out for him this season in the nation’s capital. While he does have a very good running game, with two excellent backs, and a decent receiving corps, quarterback Jason Campbell has yet to prove that he has the ability to be an effective starter in the NFL. The preseason has multiplied the woes in D.C. as well, with several key players suffering injuries that could jeopardize their play at the beginning of the season. If the injured players are able to come back strong and remain healthy, the team with the most offensive name in the league could make a run at .500, but I expect them to come in worse than that.
Green Bay – The Brett Favre era is over and the Aaron Rodgers era is now upon us, leaving an excellent Packer squad with its biggest question mark – will Rodgers be able to take the reins effectively? Green Bay has a great young back in Ryan Grant, capable receivers, and one of the best offensive lines to be found. While their defense may not be elite, All Pros like DE Aaron Kampman and CB Al Harris help make it a formidable unit in an offense-starved division. The Pack will battle the Vikings for the division, but their ultimate destination rests on the shoulders of Rodgers.
Minnesota – The Vikings lost the Brett Favre sweepstakes and are again turning to Razorback reject Tavarius Jackson as their starting quarterback. Of course, when you have perhaps the best young back in the league in Adrian Peterson and an elite defense, it may not even matter who the signal caller is. Minnesota has a good shot at making the playoffs in 2008, either as division champ or as a wild card.
Detroit – Though the Lions have been stacked with receiving talent over the past few years, their combination of quarterback Jon Kitna and basically nobody else of note held them near the bottom of the standings year after year. In my opinion, things will most likely not change in 2008 and Detroit will be left battling Chicago for third place in the NFC North.
Chicago – Just as the Lions are defense-starved, the Bears’ lack of offense is absolutely stunning. Though they have made some moves to try and improve (the drafting of RB Matt Forte could be great), the combination of Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman at QB just smacks of disaster. The Bears should be over the injuries that plagued them last year and caused their defense to plummet from one of the best to the low end of average, and if they can stay relatively injury-free, a star-studded squad, including Brian Urlacher, Tommie Harris, Lance Briggs, and Nathan Vasher, could make things tough on their NFC opponents.
New Orleans – Quarterback Drew Brees is back to lead the high-octane Saints offense on another fight for first in the NFC south. The addition of Jeremy Shockey gives Brees another large target to throw at and his presence should help bolster a very good passing game. RB Reggie Bush’s effectiveness remains a question mark, but as Deuce McAllister ages and his skills deteriorate, Bush will be looked to even more as a feature back. New Orleans is obviously an offense-oriented team, so their defense does leave much to be desired, but that shouldn’t stop them from dominating their division in 2008.
Tampa Bay – The Bucs were a surprise team in 2007, leaning on a stout defense and the arm of old man Jeff Garcia to fight their way into the playoffs. This offense would have been great about 10 years ago, but, in 2008, only RB Earnest Graham seems to be a formidable piece of the puzzle. The defense, led by veterans like Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber, is tough but rapidly aging and not quite up to par with some of the younger squads in the league. Don’t expect a repeat of 2007.
Carolina – Quarterback Jake Delhomme began 2007 brilliantly before falling to injury after only 3 game, so the Panthers are left with a big question mark regarding the 33 year old starter. Besides Delhomme, Carolina will also return an incredible receiver in Steve Smith and a young running back who has yet to break out in DeAngelo Williams. The Panther defense is about average, but is good enough to hang with most of the teams in the league. If Delhomme returns strong and Williams comes through running the ball, the Panthers could sneak up on Tampa Bay for second in the division.
Atlanta – With the loss of Michael Vick, the cupboard was bare for the Falcons in 2007 as they limped to a 4 win season. Atlanta has now begun to rebuild their program with the drafting of QB Matt Ryan and the addition of RB Michael Turner, but this season will be a wash. On the bright side, they have an excellent chance of procuring the number one draft pick.
Seattle – In a defensively weak division, the Seahawks stand above their rivals. Their squad is certainly in the league’s top ten, maybe even in the top five, and it is filled with great players, including 2007’s NFC Defensive Player of the Year Patrick Kerney. The dominance of 31 year old running back Shaun Alexander is all but over, so they will turn to former Cowboy Julius Jones to help bolster the running game this season. Matt Hasselbeck has proven to be a very quarterback and should again be the leader this team needs to win their division.
San Francisco – The 49ers have really tried to improve their defense, even adding linebacker Takeo Spikes over the offseason, but it remains to be seen whether their spending will bear much or any fruit. New offensive coordinator Mike Martz has the ability to turn the offensive unit around, but his naming of J.T. O’Sullivan as the starting QB leaves a lot of questions. There is a lot of promise in Frisco this season, but they may still be a year away from being winners.
Arizona – Let’s assess the situation: Kurt Warner is your starting QB, your running back is well past his prime, and one of your two Pro Bowl receivers wants out. A once promising offense is floundering and, while the defense has improved, it is still far from great. That being said, don’t expect much out of the Cardinals this year.
St. Louis – Do you remember how great the Rams once were? Remember how they used to steamroll opponents with their explosive offense? Well, those days are gone and, despite having one of the league’s best backs in Steven Jackson, the Rams are destined to fight for last place yet again.