FOOTBALL IS BACK !! For the first time since February there is hope and light and something to discuss that isn’t world-ending. Hurrah for football!
We’ve had the draft, we’ve had the speculation and we’ve had our fill of covid-friendly, iso-bubble namby-pamby training camps. What we really want is bone-crunching, pass-catching, touchdown-scoring football. Tomorrow night the reigning champion Chiefs get the season underway against division rivals the Texans at Arrowhead as they look to be the first repeat champions since the ’04 and ’05 Patriots. The season is going to post many, many questions and dilemmas for staff and players alike in these strange times, but ultimately one thing remains true, the best team post-Christmas will claim the crown. So lets take a look through the teams by Conference and Division and weigh up their chances of reaching the tickertape glory land…
THE NFC NORTH
The Packers were maybe the least balanced 13-3 team ive seen last year, and I will continue to say I don’t think Rodgers is as good as the numbers show. Turns out Green Bay may think the same (Check the draft everyone) The Vikings should be the best team in the division, but they never quite manage world-beater status, and the Bears and Lions, well, there are reasons why no ones tipping them for a post-season run… see below.
Lets start of Defense. Losing Everson Griffin, Linval Joseph and Xavier Rhodes have all left the building, and that’s BIG news for a team that has been deep and intimidating on the D for several seasons, they suddenly look slightly more fallible. Then they signed Yannick Ngakoue and all seemed forgotten… Well, if he plays like we know he can he certainly erases a lot of the losses. Star Safety duo Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris need repeats of last year and Anthony Barr needs to rediscover his best form which was lacking in 2019. All of this is achievable. On the Offense, Stefon Diggs was traded to Buffalo, which is no bad thing considering the disruption he was causing, his replacement is draftee Justin Jefferson and I like him to slide straight into the deep-Diggs role. Dalvin Cook is always great until he gets hurt, so expect to see plenty of Mattison, Thielen may experience more coverage issues now the Diggs has gone, but his talent will win through. Over to you Kirk, you’ve got the playoff win off your back, now go and do it again…
GREEN BAY PACKERS
No, I don’t have them winning the division, but Itll be as near as dammit. For me it comes down to 2 factors, 1, no receiving threats beyond Davante Adams and 2, Aaron Jones scored 16 TDs last year, he wont do that again. Im doubtful that Rodgers is all-in with this team and coaching set up, so expect hissy-fits aplenty if things go south. Marcedes Lewis at TE anyone? No, didn’t think so. A-Rods last year (?) in Green Bay could be wasted. The D is all about the Smith-Twins, Za’Darius and Preston who can shut down many an offense. The Secondary is also on-point, Amos, Savage Alexander and King all making their mark last season and returning for another go. The D is key, keep the opponents in their half and the lack of downfield threats wont matter.
Projected record: 10-6
Matt Patricia must have the hottest of hot seats, probably only retained his job because star QB Matt Stafford missed half of last season through injury. For me it could soon be over in Detroit for Patyricia if he doesn’t take advantage of a stacked offense and adequate defense (his speciality don’t forget). Please Detroit, stop wasting Stafford. RB Kerryon Johnson rarely stays fit, but when he does he’s as good as Dalvin Cook or Aaron Jones, they’re backed him up with Draftee Andre Swift and recent FA Signing Adrian Peterson. Its anyones guess who emerges as lead back, but all 3 have boom and bust potential. Kenny Golloday is struggling with a hamstring issues, but once fully fit he’s a top 5 receiver in the NFL, Marvin Jones is a criminally underrated TD catching machine and no one runs shallow routes from the slot like Amendola. Keep an eye on TE Hockenson as he emerges as a true no.1 receiving threat too. Danny Shelton is a solid addition to the Def line, and Desmond Trufant from Atalanta is an upgrade at corner. No excuses Matt, none…
Projected record: 7-9
If ever a team and front office didn’t want to admit a mistake its Chicago with Trubisky. Im not saying he cant play in fits and starts, but he isn’t a 1st round QB Talent, and he doesn’t look like becoming one. Sure signing Nick Foles and have a QB competition in camp, but don’t tell me the outcome wasn’t pre-determined. If we’d seen pre-season games my money wouldve been on Foles. If you have a weak QB you need the offense to elevate him, but David Montgomery disappointed as lead-back last year, Tarik Cohen equally so. Signing Jimmy Graham isn’t the solution, its just a sunken cost. I Like Robinson and Miller at WR, but not with Trubisky as the starter. I give him ‘til week 4. The Defense is a different matter, signing Robert Quinn is just a gift for the staff, reel off the rest of the names and salivate, Roquan Smith, Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, Danny Trevathan, Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller… Its Criminal that so much talent will be held back by poor decisions from those at the top.
Projected record 6-10