18 August 2007

NFL previews: NFC North

I'll do the NFCN next in honour of P—, who called me at work tonight just to brag that the Vikes were spanking the Jets in a game we were supposed to be at. (It was me who bailed.) Actually I have a lot of personal ties here, as my dad's from Wisconsin and my wife's from Chicago.

But I'm not biased: these teams all rot. This division has been the biggest joke in the NFL for the past few years and yet still managed to send a team to the Super Bowl last year because the whole conference is weak. Actually I take back that first part, the NFCN's not significantly worse than the NFCS.

Chicago Bears

Total wins: 10
Welcome back to earth, boys. Hope the ride was fun, 'cause the hangover's gonna hurt. Super Bowl losers finishing under .500 the following season is becoming something of a tradition in the NFL, and the Bears don't look to buck that trend. Their QB's the same, running game's worse, and I think GB and Det will be improved. We're looking at a textbook example of the saying, "Defense wins championships, but offense wins games."

I'm givin' 'em three in the division. Splits across the board. They get to play the NFCE, which is actually pretty good, so I'm giving them one of the home games there, either NYG or Dal. Ditto the AFCW, they get KC and Den at home. Actually, their defense is gonna stomp @Oak, so let's make that two. And they round it off with @Sea and NO, which like, yeah, good luck with that. Although the NO game's at home in late December against a southern dome team, so I'll give 'em that one too. That makes seven. Under. Way under.

Division champ: 4–13
Is that the odds or their record? Ha! Oh, man. Where was I?

Seriously, that's a weird number, isn't it? Who cares, the Bears aren't winning the division.

SB champ: 15–1

Week one: +61/2 @SD
SD wins this by at least a touchdown, probably more. Chargers.

Full disclosure: Like I said, my wife's from Chicago, but only her brother's really into the Bears; her father just likes the Cubs. And she hates the Bears. She remains unwilling to forgive the franchise for "The Super Bowl Shuffle", which she considers a source of lasting civic shame.

Detroit Lions

Total wins: 6
This is the year that all the peices of the Millen plan finally fit together. No, I still think Millen's incompetent, but you know what they say about broken clocks. Seriously, the Lions may not make they playoffs, but I think they'll be competitive this year, even with a backfield composed entirely of glorified third-down backs. Okay maybe not glorified.

Division? Let's say three, all splits. Actually, they could sweep MN. Not if the Vikes still played at Metropolitan Stadium, of course, but it's not really a road game if it's in a dome. I'm gonna say four. Playing @Phi and @Was in the first five weeks is a raw deal, so I can't give 'em more than one from the NFCE, either Dal or NYG at home. They can split their AFCW games, that's two. They round it out with TB and @AZ, both very winnable games. I'll be conservative and give 'em one, bringing the total to eight. Over.

Division champ: 11–2
Very possible, but the odds are a little too short for my taste.

SB champ: 75–1
Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Week one: +21/2 @Oak
Like I said, I think it's a breakout year for them, and what better way to kick it off than by waxing the Raiders on the road? Lions.

Full disclosure: I'm not sure this team has fans. I was watching them lose a home game on TV a few years ago and the crowd were all chanting "Here we go Red Wings." I'm not making this up. The only time I ever met any Lions fans was when I went to see them play the Giants. I talked to a bunch of friendly dudes in Lions jerseys and found out they were all road-tripping to see Michigan play, like, Syracuse or something. So my impression of Lions fans is that they're just Wolverines fans with nothing better to do on Sunday.

Anyway, point is: I don't know any Lions fans.

Green Bay Packers

Total wins: 71/2
My feelings regarding Monsieur Favre are well-documented. Nonetheless, I think they'll be decent this year. It kind of depensd on the running game. If they can get solid committe production out of Morency and Jackson, the passing game and defense should be adequate to get them to the playoffs.

Say they take three in the division. What the hell, splits all around. I know that's becoming a common theme here, but I think these teams are all pretty close. They get Phi and Was at home, which is a nice break, so let's say they take one there and one more on the road from the NFCE. Oak at home in December's a gift, but they play SD too early to benefit. Plus they get @Den and @KC back-to-back, and I can't them taking both. Let's say two from the AFCW. Which brings us to Car and @StL. Split, I guess. That's eight. Too close for my refined tastes.

Division champ: 7–1
Honestly, I think they have the best shot to win it and Vegas is giving them the longest odds. This is a great bet, take it.

SB champ: 40–1
I think it's weird that they have longer odds than MN to win the division, but shorter to win the Super Bowl. I think they'll make the playoffs, but I can't imagine them making it all the way through the playoffs without Favre doing something stupid to blow a close game.

Week one: +3 vPhi
Having home field is nice, but it won't be cold yet and McNabb'll still be healthy in week one. Eagles.

Full disclosure: My grandmother loves the Packers. Loves Brett Favre. Please don't tell her about that link above.

Minneapolis Vikings

Total wins: 61/2
I think this team'll be good next year. I think Childress has 'em on the right track, he's getting rid of troublemakers, they're building the offense from the line back which is totally the way to go, they'll know where they stand with their QB and RB after this season. Plus coaches with moustaches always know what they're doing.

This season not so much. I'm thinking two division wins, and either GB or Det sweeps them. I could see them losing all their NFCE games, but I'll give them one. Same with the AFCW; I can't see them winning @Den or @KC, or stopping LDT, but at least they get Oak at home. That leaves Atl and @SF; another one. Bringing us to five. Which seems like a comfortable margin, but I'm not betting this one. They're defense is pretty good, and if the offense starts coming togther there's too much of a chance they could start pulling off late-season upsets. They get Was at home in December; what if the Skins are out of it and everybody knows Gibbs is leaving? Shit like that. Despite everything I said above, this team could just as easily open 1–6 and then suddenly bust off a big streak. I'm not saying it's gonna happen, I'm just not betting against it.

Division champ: 6–1
Not even this division.

SB champ: 50–1
Not even next year.

Week one: NL vAtl
Presumably this one's off the board because of all the Vick shit. Last year you couldn't bet on anything involving Pit after Roethcheeseburger's motorcycle accident. I think the Vikes to win this one, though.

Full disclosure: P—'s been acting pretty fanatical lately and it's hard not to get swept up in his tragic optimism, so maybe I am biased when I say they could win a bunch late. G—'s wife is a Vikes fan too, but only 'cause she grew up there. I don't think she realy cares about football all that much.


Anonymous said...

Whats up stoodent? Props on yr preview. Far more entertaining than any other I've read this year. The only big disagreement I have with you so far is the Viks. I think they are a cinch to cover the 6.5 wins and if the Bears stumble, I think they win the division.

Anonymous said...

Vikings are hardest to understand. there is a strange collective mind in the land of 10,000 lakes, maybe it's from eating too much northern pike. football team is notoriously inconsistent but they finally got a real coach in Childress. i hate to think the packers might best them though ... and the lions too?? COME ON!!! you be reading too many funny pages from that football magazine. quarterback is potential dud and they got no receivers, ok, so the safe bet is Vikings winning 12 this year. thank you for your time.