NFCN Season Preview

Discussion in 'NFL Forum' started by little bear, Aug 27, 2014.

  1. little bear

    little bear Head Coach

    Sep 6, 2008
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    Detroit Lions Season Preview: Disappointing D?

    Change we can Believe in
    The Summer of Matthew Stafford looks good so far. The quarterback has been more confident in his pocket presence and spreading the ball around. Golden Tate should be huge for this offense and put up monster numbers next to Calvin Johnson. Toss in tight ends Eric Ebron and Joseph Fauria as red zone targets and three running backs who can all catch out of the backfield, and Stafford has more weapons in the pass game than any other signal caller.
    We love that Joique Bell should see more carries than Reggie Bush this season. The sledge-hammering Bell will play the Pierre Thomas role in Joe Lombardi's offense and allow Bush -- who wore down last season -- to be the explosive playmaker he's still capable of flashing.

    Biggest concern
    The problem the Lions have harbored for a generation hasn't changed: the secondary is underwhelming and easily picked apart. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin hasn't unfurled his entire scheme, but as of now there are no playmakers in the secondary and it's a soft group that can be diced up by good quarterbacks with time.
    The run defense hasn't looked nearly as stout as last season, which could become a problem with three top-10 backs within the division.

    Training camp surprise
    Part of the defensive issues have stemmed from the poor play of Nick Fairley. From being too light to being overweight in a matter of weeks, the former first-round pick was demoted. When Fairley is at his best he disrupts the backfield by winning one-on-one battles while Ndamukong Suh takes on double teams. Without a healthy, active Fairley, the Lions' defense begins to rot from the inside out.

    What we'll be saying in February
    The Lions had the best offense in the NFL, but, man, how bad is that defense going to look when both Suh and Fairley are gone?


    Green Bay Packers season preview: Fast-paced O

    Change we can believe in
    When you own a Ferrari, sometimes you need to open it up and rocket down the road. Otherwise, what's the point of owning a Ferrari? The Packers have the football equivalent in quarterback Aaron Rodgers and they plan to zoom down the field at a faster pace than ever before. The early returns are glorious, as Rodgers has carved up defenses early in preseason.
    Eddie Lacy's ability to play three-downs in his second season has allowed the Packers offense to play at that quicker tempo. With Lacy's bruising style wearing down fronts and the pace of play simultaneously gassing defenders, Rodgers has even more time to throw the ball. With Lacy now a top-five running back and Rodgers slamming on the gas pedal, the Packers are going to torture defenses.

    Biggest concern
    After Rodger's injury last season, keeping the quarterback upright is a concern. We've already seen two key injuries. Center JC Tretter (knee) is out indefinitely and super-backup Don Barclay tore an ACL. The Packers need second-year left tackle David Baktiari (who got manhandled in several division games) to make a leap. The line is the only thing that could keep the Packers from performing "The Greatest Show on Tundra” each Sunday.
    The defense has looked much better this season (more on that shortly), but we still need to see more from the back end. Doing it against Tennessee, St. Louis and Oakland isn't the same as facing Matt Stafford, Jay Cutler, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

    Training camp surprise
    Maybe it shouldn't be a surprise, but the defensive rush has been fantastic during the preseason. Making the Leap candidate Mike Daniels has been relentless the past two weeks. The combination of Daniels (4), Clay Matthews (3) and Mike Neal (3) have combine for 10 quarterback hurries in limited preseason play. And let's not forget Julius Peppers looking sprier than the last few years.
    B.J. Raji's recent season-ending biceps injury is a hurdle to overcome in the middle of the defense. However, the Packers have more depth and team speed than ever before under Dom Capers to overcome the loss.

    What we'll be saying in February
    We'll be on rooftop somewhere screaming: "AARON RODGERS IS A GOLDEN GOD!"


    Minnesota Vikings season preview: Zimmer's chance

    Change we can believe in
    Many teams are going to wish they'd given Mike Zimmer a head coaching job after they get a load of his work in Minnesota. His brand of toughness and honesty is a talent that earns respect from players. As a coach who has always maximized talent, Zimmer will do wonders for a group of defenders that has gotten toyed with by NFC North offenses lately.
    Zimmer's offensive coordinator Norv Turner was also a masterful hiring. Given Turner's history and 2013 performance -- coaxing the leading-receiver performance out of Josh Gordon with a trio of ball-spikers playing quarterback -- Turner should be able to take advantage of defenses through the air when they are geared to stop Adrian Peterson.
    Oh, and Cordarrelle Patterson is freaking awesome to watch.

    Biggest concern
    Even though we have faith in Zimmer, there remains questions on the back end of the defense. Training camp injuries and faulty play make this a shaky unit. We expect Xavier Rhodes to make the leap in 2014, and Captain Munnerlyn had a good year last season -- but was that mostly the Panthers' scheme? The safety position has been even wobblier with no great solution in sight.
    As much continuity as the Vikes' offensive line has, we'd expect it to look better than it did during the preseason. Particularly, the pass blocking has been a concern. This is a solid group that hopefully should get it together as the season starts.

    Training camp surprise
    It might not be a stunning shocker that Matt Cassel won the starting quarterback gig, but I'm somewhat disappointed. As an admitted Teddy Bridgewater believer (a Bridgeliever?), I expected the NFL-ready rookie to step in and win the starting job over the hackneyed Cassel.
    "Teddy Two Minutes" has shown well since a lackluster first preseason game. He made plays and has been accurate -- 80-percent accuracy on plays when he's under pressure this season, per Pro Football Focus. The Vikings are comfortable with Cassel, but Teddy brings a more dynamic element that will be the team's future as soon as he gets a shot.

    What we'll be saying in February
    We'll say that the Vikings should have started Teddy from Week 1. We’ll also be asking who is the Mike Zimmer coaching hire of 2015.
    Around The NFL's predicted finish: Fourth place in NFC North, No. 23 in Around The NFL's Power Index.


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