2005-09-19

Things I Think I Think about the NFC

Perhaps it's a bit foolish fo me to rush to judgement on NFL teams after only two weeks, especially when I condemmed those who were so quick to jump on the Buc's playoff band wagon after week one. But here goes . . .

It's got to be pretty clear right now that the NFC is the far weaker of the two divisions. The NFC West is as bad as last season, although it appears the division will once again come down to the Seahawks and the Rams. The only impressive win any team in that division has right now is Seattle over Atlanta, a game which if it had been played at Atlanta, would have been a win for the Falcons.

The North has gotten significantly worse. I thought Minnesota was going to win this division but through two weeks Daunte Culpepper has turned the ball over ten times. Last season, Culpepper had only turned the ball over fifteen times. Green Bay has noticebly slipped and Detroit is a mess with Joey Harrington at quarterback. Chicago really looks likes it could win this division with a rookie quarterback at the helm in Kyle Orton.

The East looks much improved with a revamped Dallas team and reenergized New York team. The Eagles are still the team to beat but Atlanta did a good job of exposing their weaknesses (inability to defend the run and lack of depth at the receiver position). Depending on how Dallas plays tonight against the Redskins, I think the Cowboys could potentially win this division.

The South, once again, looks like the strongest division in the NFC. While only the Bucs are 2-0, I still think the Panthers will win the division. (Although the Saints could be 2-0 after tonight. Which brings me to a side question, if the Cowboys play the Saints in the playoffs this year which team is American supposed to root for?).

The Panthers had a big win at home against the Patriots. Jake Delhomme played an ugly game, going 11-26 for 154 yards and an interception. You won't see many games like that for Delhomme. As explained below, I'm not going to hold the Panther's week one loss to the Saints against them.

The Falcons look like they missed cornerback Kevin Mathis (could have used him to start a fight with Shaun Alexander), but the Dirty Birds are still a dangerous team as long as Micheal Vick is their quarterback. Teams are starting to figure out that the Vick has no one to throw to besides Alge Crumpler, and are focusing on stopping Atlanta's rushing game. With a tougher division this year Atlanta could end up with eight or nine wins.

No team in America takes their games more seriously than the Saints do right now. For better or worse, the Saints look like they have something to prove everytime they head out onto the field, almost like they are fighting against the odds by winning each game. Early in the season this makes them a dangerous team, and (as I've said before) they will win games people don't expect them to. But eventually they will get exhausted, physically and emotionally, from everything they have gone through. The constant traveling, the makeshift facilities, visiting with Katrina victims, all these things are bound to take a toll on the Saint's players and coaching staff.

The Bucs are looking like a better shot at a wildcard spot in the playoffs after two impressive wins. Cadillac Wlliams has had more of an impact on this team than I thought he would, and it appears Gruden finally has the weapons in place to create a high powered offense.

While the next six weeks should be fairly easy for the Bucs (at Green Bay, Detroit, at New York Jets, Miami, bye, San Francisco), the second half of their schedule will be difficult. Highlighted by a road game at New England in December, six of the Bucs last nine games are against division foes. Since the NFL redesigned their schedules to backload all the division games (borrowing a page from MLB), this means the NFC South couldn't be decided until the last week of the regular season.

3 comments:

NFL Adam said...

That is one good football team in Tampa. I did not think they could do it.

Scott said...

No one did. The Bucs schedule looks pretty soft for a while. I'm not going to make any predictions, but I wouldn't rule out the Bucs winning the division instead of just the wildcard. Someone on Carolina will tear an ACL... Smith or Davis, I'd say. And with Vick coming up gimpy last week, he'll be tentative to turn on the burners for a while. Anything can happen.

Ski said...

I agree with you Scott. Anything can happen.

This is the first season where the NFL backloads division games for teams, which means the second half of the season takes on far more importance than the first. Even if the Bucs went 7-1 in the first half they could very well go 1-7 in the second half.