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Old 07-28-2004, 02:06 PM   #1
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Default Who Will Reign Supreme in the NFC for 2004?

Let's take a brief look at each team. I believe the NFC East will be the toughest division in 2004 with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins fighting for top spot. Which division do you think is the toughest?

Philadelphia seems poised to win their division again, but can they advance to the Super Bowl? If not, this could be head coach Andy Reid's last chance.

QB Donovan McNabb will lead the offense after having a pretty good season in 2003. McNabb threw for 3,273 yards and 17 TD's last season, while throwing 11 INT's. The good news this season is that he has a very special target to throw to. His name is Terrell Owens, who they acquired from San Francisco. Owens caught 80 passes last season, but you should see his numbers go up while playing for Philly. He's not shy about asking for the ball.

The main problem I see for the Eagles is the loss of RB Duce Staley. The Eagles need a balanced-attack big time. I just don't know if Correll Buckhalter or Brian Westbrook can do the job. Also, Philly may have two rookies starting on the offensive line. One is OT Shawn Andrews(6-4-373) out of Arkansas and OG Trey Darilek out of UTEP.

The defense looks in good shape with the acquistion of DE Jevon Kearse from Tennessee. Kearse had 9.5 sacks in 2003. DT Corey Simon led the Eagles with 7.5 sacks. Last year's top draft pick Jerome McDougle had no sacks. So he needs to improve his pass rushing skills. My main concern for the Eagles could be an inferior running attack.

Head coach Bill Parcells will be entering his second year with the Dallas Cowboys in 2004, after leading his team to the playoffs in his first season. The biggest question for him this season will be who will start at quarterback? Will it be Quincy Carter who played most of last season or veteran Vinny Testaverde who was acquired from the New York Jets? Carter had a decent year in 2003 throwing for 3,302 yards and 17 TD's, but he threw 21 INT's.

A key acquisition for Dallas this season was WR Keyshawn Johnson from Tampa Bay. I believe Parcells will get Johnson to give his maximum effort in each game.

Dallas signed released running back Eddie George from Tennessee so the running game looks solid. Rookie RB Julius Jones out of Notre Dame should see plenty of playing time.

Dallas led the NFC in rush defense(89.1) per game, pass defense(164.4) and in total defense(253.5) for 2003. LB Dat Nguyen seems to be the emotional leader of the defense.

If Dallas has a solid performance from their QB's and a good running game they should go deep into the playoffs.

Yes Joe Gibbs is back as head coach of the Washington Redskins. Good news all the way around. First thing he did was acquire veteran QB Mark Brunell from Jacksonville. Good move. Patrick Ramsey will be called upon if Brunell falters. Either QB has some good receivers to throw to.

James Thrash was acquired from Philly and Laveranues Coles returns. Coles caught 82 passes for 1,204 yards and six TD's in 2003. WR Rod Gardner is an able receiver too. The best news for the Redskins this season was their acquisition of RB Clinton Portis from Denver. This guy can run. Portis rushed for 1,591 yards and 14 TD's last season for Denver.

If OT Chris Samuels plays to his potential a lot of holes will be opened for Portis. Trung Canidate will share some of the carries.

LB LaVar Arrington could be the star of the defense. He needs to learn some better moves for getting to the quarterback.

Washington has a new defensive coordinator in Greg Williams. Williams was successful under Jeff Fisher at Tennessee.

Fred Smoot will be the key man in the secondary. The defense must improve dramatically for this team and Gibbs to succeed.

The New Yorks Giants fired head coach Jim Fassel after last season, and got rid of QB Kerry Collins. New head coach Tom Coughlin is known for his toughness. Some compare him to General Patton. That is tough.

The Giants signed veteran QB Kurt Warner to play until rookie QB Eli Manning is ready. Warner is not very mobile and is injury prone, so Manning may see some action before he is ready.

RB Tiki Barber rushed for 1,216 yards last season, but must learn how to hold onto the ball better. The Giants have some good receivers in Amani Toomer, Ike Hillard and TE Jeremy Shockey.

On defense DE Michael Strahan led the NFL in sacks with 18.5. This team may win six games in 2004, but I've been wrong before.

The NFC North should be between two teams only. That being the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. The Detroit Lions should be a lot better, but not good enough to win their division.

The Vikings led the NFL in total offense in 2003, but still missed the playoffs by losing to Arizona in their final game of the regular season.

QB Duante Culpepper threw for 3,479 yards and 25 TD's last season. Talented WR Randy Moss caught 111 passes for 1,632 yards and 17 TD's in 2003.

RB Michael Bennett should be healthy for this season. That is a big plus for the Vikings. If not Onterrio Smith could see a lot of playing time.

The Vikings must improve their defense to win their division. They have a new defensive coordinator in Ted Cottrell. Rookie DE Kenechi Udeze(6-3-283) out of USC could start. Also, LB Dontarrious Thomas out of Auburn could see some playing time. He is a good tackler.

Head coach Mike Tice must instill a killer instinct in this team for them to advance into the playoffs.

The Green Bay Packers will be tough as long as QB Brett Favre sticks around. Favre led the NFL in touchdown passes with 32 last season. Tim Couch was picked up from Cleveland as his backup.

Favre's favorite RB Ahmad Green must repeat his numbers of 2003 or get close for this team to win regularly. Green rushed for 1,883 yards and 15 TD's in 2003.

The receivers on this team or good, but not great. Donald Driver caught only 50 passes last season. Javon Walker has good size and does a good job of making plays on fade routes.

As for their defense, Green Bay will be led by LB Nick Barnett. Rookie CB Ahmad Carroll out of Arkansas should see plenty of playing time.

As for the Detroit Lions a lot will depend upon QB Joey Harrington. He's in his third year in the NFL and he should have this offense down pat. If the offense sputters a lot backup QB Mike McMahon is available.

Head coach Steve Mariucci must get this offense going for this team to move up to the next level.

Rookie RB Kevin Jones out of Virginia Tech could be the best back taken in the draft. Artose Pinner missed most of his rookie year with a bad foot.

The Lions should be strong in the receiver department. Charles Rogers should be healthy in his second year after missing 11 games in 2003. Rookie Roy Williams out of Texas could find himself starting right away. Both receivers have great potential.

Linebacker Boss Bailey needs to have a very productive season. Rookie LB Teddy Lehman out of Oklahoma was a good pick for them in the 2004 NFL draft. He is very quick.

A lot must go right for this team to compete in 2004. A balanced offense and a very aggressive defense is needed.

The Chicago Bears will be led by QB Rex Grossman. Grossman can throw the ball well, but will the offensive line give him time to throw? Rookie QB Craig Krenzel out of Ohio St was one of their draft picks of 2004.

RB Anthony Thomas ran for 1,024 yards last season. Thomas Jones was acquired from Tampa Bay to help him out.

WR Marty Booker will be Grossman's main target.

The Bears got them a great rookie in DT Tommie Harris(6-2-289) out of Oklahoma. Rookie DT Terry Johnson from Washington could see some playing time. Chicago will have a tough time competing in the NFC North. Maybe next year.

Do the Carolina Panthers have what it takes in 2004 to return to the Super Bowl? They did lose five starters from the Super Bowl team of last season.

Can QB Jake Delhomme led his team to eight comeback victories in 2003, including one in the playoffs. Can he be that lucky again or skilled?

His favorite target is Steve Smith who caught 88 passes for 1,110 yards and seven TD's in 2003. WR Muhsin Muhammad is a threat to go deep.

One thing that helped the Panthers offense last season was the running ability of Stephen Davis who rushed for 1,444 yards. He's a power runner without a doubt.

The Panthers defense ranked eighth overall in the NFL last season. They must perform at the same level or better to win their division and advance in the playoffs.

The Atlanta Falcons are my pick to win the NFC South. If QB Michael Vick is healthy all season this team should be very dangerous and cause havoc for most defenses. Vick is difficult to contain.

New head coach Jim Mora Jr. will create enthusiam in this team.

The Falcons drafted rookie QB Matt Schuab out of Virginia. Schuab is a big man(6-5-237) with a strong arm. Also, if RB Warrick Dunn remains healthy in 2004 this team will gain a lot of yards on a regular basis. T.J. Duckett is a good runner in his own right.

The Falcons have one of the best tight ends in the NFL with Alge Crumpler. W

WR Peerless Price is a deep threat and a potential gamebreaker. Brian Finneran makes a good target with his height at 6-5.

The key for this team's success is their defense, which ranked 32nd in the NFL in 2003. Not good.

DE Patrick Kearney should be a lot better this season and play in the Pro Bowl. LB Keith Brooking is a playmaker. The rest of the guys must really step up their play for the Falcons to be a threat in the NFC South.

The New Orleans Saint are just unpredictable. They look awful in games that they shouldn't and look good in games when they shouldn't.

This could be head coach Jim Haslett's last season if this team doesn't make it to the playoffs this season.

QB Aaron Brooks has great potential, but just can't seem to beat the teams they should beat. Brooks had good numbers in 2003. Throwing for 3,546 yards and 24 TD's while throwing only eight INT's. His offensive line must play better for this offense to really take off.

WR Joe Horn is always a threat when he touches the ball. Horn is capable of improving his numbers. He caught 78 passes last season. Look for Donte Stallworth to improve more and more.

RB Deuce McAllister is the key to this offense. He ran for 1,641 yards and eight TD's in 2003. McAllister had a franchise record 2,157 yards from scrimmage last season. This guy is capable of setting all kinds of records.

Return man Michael Lewis is a definite threat each time he returns a punt or kickoff.

The Saints defense has great potential if they hit on all cylinders this season. Will Smith, Charles Grant and Darren Howard are good pass rushers. Grant had 10 sacks in 2003.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a threat to challenge for the NFC South title. QB Brad Johnson completed at least 60 percent of his passes in eight straight seasons, tying Joe Montana and Steve Young for the NFL all-time best streak. Johnson threw for 3,811 yards and 26 TD's in 2003.

Head coach Jon Gruden acquired RB Charlie Garner from his old team the Oakland Raiders. Garner needs to regain his 2002 form.

Hopefully new arrival WR Joey Galloway will perform better than he did at Dallas. Rookie Michael Clayton out of LSU is a very good receiver. Kennan McCardell played well in 2003, catching 84 passes for 1,174 yards and eight TD's. Warren Sapp is gone from the defense, being dealt to Oakland. Anthony McFarland will try and replace him. DT Simeon Rice led the defense with 15 sacks.

This team could return to their 2002 form, but a lot of things will have to happen before that happens. Such as a balanced offensive attack and a stingy defense and a little luck.

The NFC West could be a very exciting race with the St. Louis Rams and the Seattle Seahawks fighting for top spot. The key to Seattle's success will be the performances of QB Matt Hasselbeck and RB Shaun Alexander. Both had a very good season in 2003. Hasselbeck threw for 3,841 yards and 26 TD's and Alexander ran for 1,435 yards.

Believe it or not, both have the capability to play better. If they do Seattle will win their division and possibly advance to the Super Bowl.

Seattle has good receivers in Koren Robinson and Darell Jackson. TE Itula Mili could play a larger role in the offense this season.

The Seahawks drafted a good defensive end in Marcus Tubbs from Texas. Also DE Grant Wistrom was acquired from St. Louis.

Seattle's defense in 2003 held their final four opponents to an average of 75 rushing yards. Also Seattle has beat St. Louis in Seattle the past two seasons.

The St. Louis Rams won't have a QB controversy this season with Kurt Warner gone. Marc Bulger is the man. Bulger is 17-3 in his first 20 NFL starts. Chris Chandler will be his backup.

For this team to succeed RB Marshall Faulk must be healthy and play a big role in this offense. Faulk rushed for only 818 yards in 2003. He hasn't started 16 games since 1999.

WR Torry Holt led the NFL in receptions with 117 in 2003. Issac Bruce will be his partner again this season. Bruce had 69 catches in 2003. You have to like this offensive line with Orlando Pace and Kyle Turley in the mix.

With DE Grant Wistrom gone rookie DE Tony Hargrove(6-4-274) out of Georgia Tech may get educated quickly. DE Leonard Little had 12.5 sacks in 2003. I'm a little concerned about the offense, especially if the running attack doesn't materialize in 2004.

The San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals will try very hard to stay out of the cellar in 2004.

I really like Arizona's chances of climbing out of the cellar with the additon of new head coach Dennis Green and the drafting of WR Larry Fitzgerald out of Pittsburgh. Remember last year's rookie sensation Anquan Boldin is back. He caught 101 passes for 1,377 yards in 2003, winning Rookie of the Year honors. These two guys could cause extreme havoc in the defenses they face this season.

Arizona's offense will be guided by Josh McCowan. He has good size and range. Rookie QB John Navarre from Michigan will have a lot to learn under Green.

A concern for the Cardinals is who will be their premier running back. Has Emmitt Smith seen his better days? Will Marcel Shipp be the runner the team thinks he can be? A lot of ifs on this team.

The defense was fortunate to draft DE Darnell Dockett from Florida St. He should be a good one.

Can Dennis Green turn this team around? If he can't nobody can. Green will motivate his troops one way or the other.

The 49ers are really facing an uphill battle with QB Jeff Garcia gone. Tim Rattay will be their man. Not the best choice in my opinion. But he did lead his team to victories over St. Louis and Pittsburgh last season. Cody Pickett out of Washington could see a lot of playing time if Rattay can't produce. Also, this team will be hurting with the loss of WR Terrell Owens.

Don't be surprised if this team doesn't win over four or five games in 2004. I sure won't be. Head coach Dennis Erickson has his hands full.
Keith "baseball nut" Thronson
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Old 07-28-2004, 11:00 PM   #2
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The Eagles running game will be fine. Staley was more of a clubhouse leader than anything else. Buckhalter and Westbrook both had more yards and scored more TDs than Staley did. No Staley just means more touches for Correll and Brian. I am more concerned about how the two young corners will hold up. I am not ready to write off Jerome McDougle just yet. He was kind of thrown right from the frying pan into the fire last season. He got injured early in training camp and was thrown right into the rotation once he was healthy enough to play. He should be way more productive this year after a full training camp under his belt. Plus teams will be focusing on Kearse so he is unlikely to draw many double teams. Another concern is Corey Simon's contract status, there are signs of another messy hold out this summer and they really need Simon happy, healthy, and in training camp.

Dallas' running game will still probably be mediocre. I do not see Dallas as a good fit for Eddie George due to the fact that Dallas' line is still very mediocre. If that line does not improve I doubt Quincy will see much improvment. His head tends to get scrambled when under pressure. A big issue for Dallas could be the status of Darren Woodson. He had to have back surgery and could miss the beginning of the season. Currently the backup safeties are Keith Davis, Tony Dixon, and Lynn Scott.

I do not see the Skins winning more than 8 or 9 games. The defense still has too many holes. The front seven is weak and Arrington is the only guy a team really has to account for and Shawn Springs is a step down from Champ Bailey and Sean Taylor sprained his knee during the first day of practice. I thought Brunell was a waste of money. Ramsey is a good QB when he gets adequate protection. He just could not hold up to the abuse last year. Gibbs must get better line play or Brunell will be on the shelf by the end of October. Ramsey was not the reason the team was so bad last year. That money would have been better spent upgrading the front seven on defense.

The Giants are going nowhere fast. Manning will see time early on because Warner will get his head scrambled behind the Giants mediocre line. I am somewhat surprised they even signed Warner as they were the team that made him look so bad last season.

I love what the Vikings have done on defense they finally got some guys who could be some real playmakers in Winfield and Udeze. They got arguably the best corner available on the free agent market and got the best pass rusher available in the draft. There are also rumors that the 'Phins may be dangling Ogunleye in exchange for one of their RBs.

I also love the direction the Lions appear to be headed. Love the additons of Roy Williams, Kevin Jones, and Teddy Lehman. I think Lehman could be one of those Zack Thomas type of players. Joey Harrington seems to be getting better each season, he just needs to improve his decision making out there. Lions should at least be competitive.

The Bears still have a lot of work to do. They are pretty thin at reciever and will have to contend with Grossman's 'rookie' mistakes out there as he settles into the offense.

The Pack's offense should be just fine, but the fact they took no real measures to improve the defense is a concern.

I do not see any reason why the Panthers cannot win the South again. They kept the core of the team together and as long as they stay healthy they should be right there again. Although, I think they overspent to retain Jake Delhomme. Early reports are that this team is anxious to show last year was not a fluke.

The Falcons should be better, but a lot depends on how much Jim Mora can turn the defense around as it was just horrid last year.

The Saints will still probably only win eight or nine games like they always do.

Tampa looks like a mess these days. The defense may miss Sapp and Lynch. There are a ton of new faces on this year's team and it could struggle early as it looks to forge a new identity.

I still like St. Louis in the West, but it could be a long season for Faulk and Bulger if Pace has a lengthy hold out.

Seattle could win the division if they ever figure out how to win on the road.

San Francisco is going nowhere fast and will probably never win more than seven or eight games while Erickson is head coach. He has no business being on an NFL sideline. It could be an exceptionally long season if Julian Peterson follows through on his hold out threats.

Arizaon still has a lot of work to do on defense until they are to be taken seriously. Dennis Green should make things interesting on offense though. Emmitt Smith just needs to go ahead and retire.
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Old 07-29-2004, 10:23 PM   #3
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Yeah Falcons got this guys I mean the year we beat Green Bay our Defense was exactly the same as last's year. Our Defense sucked because of our offense. I mean our D was on the feild most of the time. But We D Hall and Rod Coleman and our new additions, our D is going to be solid this year.
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Old 07-30-2004, 07:32 PM   #4
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Bix, like ive said in another thread, i do agree that the Foulcons will be a much better team, but i dont see them being the team to beat in the NFC. Though if Vick stays healthy, there is no reason we should not win the division. I think the D will be much improved, but not just because of the player additions you mentioned. (BTW, DeAngelo Hall still hasn't signed.) Ed Donatell (sp?) who was a great D.C. in Green Bay (he took the heat for Sherman in that last loss imo) has come in and will implement the 4-3, thank god. Donatell puts an emphasis on T.O.s and it has shown as Green Bay has consistantly been near the top of the league in that category during his tenure there. He is also moving Keith Brooking to the OLB position, getting him away from the middle. So the defense will be okay.

My biggest concern. NO BACKUP QB! Matt Schaub is being pencilled as the 2nd stringer at the moment, ahead of Ty freakin Detmer. Geez, Id be more comfortable having Doug Johnson back there. And Doug Johnson SUCKS!

Back to the topic, I think the NFC is a crap shoot, though if i was a betting man, Id go w/Dallas or the Deadskins. Or Green Bay. Or Philly. Or Maybe St Lou......
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Old 07-31-2004, 04:10 PM   #5
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Well, good news for Eagles fans they signed top pick Shawn Andrews in time for camp to begin and Corey Simon reported on time, as promised, and says he intends to put his contract issues aside and fulfill the final year of his deal and concentrate on playing football.

Bad news for Bears fans though, Brian Urlacher is out 4-6 weeks which means he misses the rest of training camp. They hope he will be ready to go for the start of the season, but with a new system to learn under a new coaching staff this is not good for the Bears defense.
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Old 08-01-2004, 01:20 PM   #6
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I think the thing stopping my Packers this year will be the secondary. Our corners, unless McKenzie comes back, are extremely vulnerable, and we have a weak pass rush, and I don't even know if our run defense is very good. The defense has me extremely nervous. The offense is good, at least.
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Old 08-02-2004, 01:58 PM   #7
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Urlacher should be ready for the regular season.
Keith "baseball nut" Thronson
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