Category Archives: nfc north

2012 NFL Team Preview: Minnesota Vikings

When a team goes through growing pains, one wouldn’t expect so many players to literally be in pain. The Minnesota Vikings saw this happen in 2011. By the end of the season, they were hobbled and the biggest blow was when they lost RB Adrian Peterson with a torn MCL and ACL. His injury has overlapped into this season.

In 2011, the quarterback position was a big problem. Donovan McNabb was touted as their franchise quarterback at the start of last season, but rookie Christian Ponder took over early in the season. He has the starting job going into camp, but QB Joe Webb is a popular fantasy football sleeper.

The NFC North will be the most competitive division in the NFL. Will Minnesota be chewed up or surprise everyone by staying in the race? Here is our 2012 NFL team preview for the Minnesota Vikings.

2011 Win/Loss Record: 3-13

Key Additions: TE John Carlson, WR Jerome Simpson, OT Matt Kalil, S Harrison Smith, CB Zack Bowman, RB Lex Hilliard, LB Marvin Mitchell, K Blair Walsh, OG Geoff Schwartz, WR A.J. Love, DE Jeff Charleston, FB Jerome Felton, CB Josh Robinson, WR Jarius Wright, FB Rhett Ellison and S Robert Blanton.

Key Losses: QB Donovan McNabb, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, OG Steven Hutchinson, S Tyrell Johnson, LB E.J. Henderson, CB Cedric Griffin and CB Benny Sapp.

Non-Division Schedule: AFC South and NFC West

Fantasy SleeperWR Jerome Simpson – I would have listed WR Greg Childs here last week. He tore his patellar tendon in both knees and will miss his rookie season. The reasoning behind choosing Childs as Minnesota’s fantasy sleeper is his size. Michael Jenkins will be their big target, but he is inconsistent. Percy Harvin can’t fill that role because he is small. Devin Aromashodu lacks chemistry with Ponder, so Simpson has the best chance at having a couple big fantasy weeks. Simpson is suspended for the first three games in 2012, so he shouldn’t be drafted. If a wide receiver on your team suffers a significant injury early, he would be a nice fill-in.

Team Analysis: The only thing the Vikings have going for them this season is that they face the two weakest divisions in the league. On the flip side, they share the division with three of the best teams in the NFL. Christian Ponder needs to improve on his 13/13 touchdown to interception ratio. Ponder needs help from the running game in order to keep the safetys inside the box. Adrian Peterson could possibly be ready by Week 1, but if not, Toby Gerhart will be their guy. I like Minnesota’s tight end duo of Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson. The former Fighting Irish alumni will help Ponder in his development. On the defensive side, Jared Allen is still a beast and will rack up an insane number of sacks. Minnesota will have issues with pass coverage because their secondary is still very weak. Rookie Harrison Smith will get playing time this season, so expect quarterbacks to challenge the young safety. Minnesota is in a rebuilding phase and will take their lumps. They will not win many games, but the young talent will get much needed experience.

2012 Wins Over/Under Line: 6 (Prediction: UNDER)

2012 Projected Win/Loss Record: 3-13

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2012 NFL Team Preview: Green Bay Packers

How did the Green Bay Packers fail to repeat as the Super Bowl champions last season? On the outside, it’s hard to believe. Green Bay had a 15-1 record, Aaron Rodgers threw for 45 touchdowns and Jordy Nelson had a breakout season. When you dive deeper and realize that they had the NFL’s worst passing defense, Greg Jennings had a down year and their rushing attack was non-existent, it makes sense.

Detroit and Chicago have improved their rosters this off-season and are both preseason favorites to make the playoffs. The NFC is loaded this season and every team will need to be almost perfect to achieve their goals. Can Green Bay fight off the rest of the pack and make another Super Bowl appearance?

Here is our 2012 NFL team preview for the Green Bay Packers.

2011 Win/Loss Record: 15-1

Key Additions: C Jeff Saturday, DE Anthony Hargrove, DE Phillip Merling, DE Nick Perry, DT Jerel Worthy, RB Marc Tyler, CB Casey Hayward, S Micah Pellerin, DT Mike Daniels and OT Andrew Datko.

Key Losses: QB Matt Flynn, RB Ryan Grant, OT Chad Clifton, CB Pat Lee andC Scott Wells.

Non-Division Schedule: AFC South and NFC West

Fantasy Sleeper: RB Marc Tyler – James Starks has the starting job going into the season, but he has never had the job by himself. He split the carries with Ryan Grant last year, who is no longer on the team. John Kuhn is still around to vulture touchdowns in Green Bay. The backup running back job is up in the air. Marc Tyler has the best shot at winning the job over Brandon Saine. Tyler had a solid career at USC, a college known for grooming elite NFL running backs. If you draft Starks, make sure you grab Tyler or Kuhn  as a handcuff.

Team Analysis: The winner of the NFC North will be beaten and bruised by the playoffs. It will be difficult for a team out of this division to keep it all together through to the Super Bowl. Rodgers is an elite quarterback, but will have little help from the running game. They signed veteran center Jeff Saturday to bolster up the line, but he has never been great at run blocking. The defense was a big problem for Green Bay last season. Clay Mathews and B.J. Raji had down years, but did see increased production from A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop. The Packers front office didn’t do anything to improve the secondary in the off-season. They drafted Hayward, but Green Bay’s secondary is still long in the tooth. Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford are drooling at the chance to face them. If they can’t get pressure on the quarterback, Green Bay will lose games because of their secondary. For that reason, I have them losing the NFC North, but still getting a wild-card spot. The Packers will not make the Super Bowl in 2012-13.

2012 Wins Over/Under Line: 12 (Prediction: PUSH)

2012 Projected Win/Loss Record: 12-4

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2012 NFL Team Preview: Detroit Lions

I posted a picture of former Detroit Lions GM and current bad ESPN analyst, Matt Millen, to show the Lions fans how far they have come. They suffered for a long time and can now reap the rewards of sticking with their team…and hopefully beat all the bandwagon fans off with old Buick LaCrosse bumpers.

In 2011, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson had career years on the offensive side and Ndamukong Suh bought the commish a new house with all of his fines. The Lions finally have playmakers on both sides of the ball, but with the Packers and Bears looking like playoff teams, they will have to be perfect to win the NFC North.

Can Detroit be able to run the ball or will Stafford need to pass for 6,000 yards to make the playoffs? Will the entire team get DUIs by the end of the season? Here is our 2012 NFL team preview for the Detroit Lions.

2011 Win/Loss Record: 10-6

Key Additions: CB Jacob Lacey, S Sean Jones, OT Riley Reiff, WR Ryan Broyles, QB Kellen Moore, CB Dwight Bentley, LB Ronnell Lewis and LB Tahir Whitehead.

Key Losses: CB Eric Wright, LB Bobby Carpenter and QB Drew Stanton.

Non-Division Schedule: AFC South and NFC West

Fantasy SleeperWR Ryan Broyles – After the draft, I listed Mikel Leshoure as the fantasy sleeper on the Lions…then he found himself in a lot of trouble this off-season. He is currently awaiting his punishment from the commissioner’s office. There will be a running back emerge as their featured back, but it’s messy at the moment. Jahvid Best, Keiland Williams or Kevin Smith could surpass Leshoure during his suspension, but it’s too early to tell. What I do know at the moment is that Stafford will throw the ball A LOT in 2012. Johnson will be getting double-teamed non-stop, so receivers will be open. Broyles is coming off a knee injury, but he has elite hands. He could fill the possession receiver role and end up with a double-digit reception game by the end of the season.

Team Analysis: Detroit will be a tired team by year’s end. The NFC North will arguably be the toughest division in the NFL. They jumped out of the gate hot in 2011, but couldn’t beat elite teams down the stretch. With experience being one of their faults, the young team has another year under their belt. Stafford is due for another MVP-type season, Calvin Johnson is still a freak receiver, and Suh will still be Suh, even though he has been fined a gazillion dollars for excessive hits. The running game will be the biggest issue for Detroit. It could all play itself out, since teams will be playing their safetys back. The Lions should be able to sneak some runs in for decent gains. Green Bay, Chicago, and Detroit will all have fantastic years this season. I predict that all three will win at least eleven games (poor Minnesota). This is Detroit’s year to finally win the NFC North.

2012 Wins Over/Under Line: 9 (Prediction: OVER)

2012 Projected Win/Loss Record: 13-3

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2012 NFL Team Preview: Chicago Bears

Before I go into the Chicago Bears 2012 team preview, let’s breakdown the two biggest stars’ girlfriends. Jay Cutler is still with Kristin Cavallari and now Brian Urlacher is dating Jenny McCarthy. Should I be worried that these guys will be a bit distracted this season? Jim Carray didn’t exactly put out his best work while dating McCarthy. Urlacher may put out a “Fun With Dick and Jane”-type of performance. Yikes!

I may need to dig deeper into both of these relationships later, but I have a lot of team previews to knock out before the NFL season begins.

Now that I got that off my chest, we can get into the Bears preview.

Chicago was one of the best teams in the NFC before Cutler and Forte went down with injuries. They missed the playoffs and realized Mike Martz wasn’t working as their offensive coordinator, so he’s gone.

How will Brandon Marshall perform when he is reunited with Cutler? Will Michael Bush be the complement to Forte they were missing last season?

Here’s our 2012 team preview for the Chicago Bears.

2011 Win/Loss Record: 8-8

Key Additions: WR Brandon Marshall, RB Michael Bush, QB Jason Campbell, CB Kelvin Hayden, LB Blake Costanzo, LB Geno Hayes, DT DeMario Pressley, OG Chilo Rachal, WR Devin Thomas, WR Eric Weems, CB Jonathan Wilhite, RB Lorenzo Booker, TE Evan Rodriguez, LB Shea McClellin, WR Alshon Jeffery and S Brandon Hardin.

Key Losses: S Brandon Meriweather, WR Roy Williams, DT Amobi Okoye, OT Frank Omiyale, QB Caleb Hanie, CB Zack Bowman,  DT Anthony Adams, CB Corey Graham and RB Marion Barber.

Non-Division Schedule: AFC South and NFC West

Fantasy Sleeper: TE Evan Rodriguez – Mike Tice is the new offensive coordinator in Chicago and he will not ignore the tight end position like Martz. Kellen Davis will be the starter, but expect plenty two-TE sets. Cutler checked down to tight ends in Denver and Chicago’s tight ends will be more productive in 2012. Alshon Jeffery will be an interesting sleeper as well. Johnny Knox may start out the season on the PUP list and Cutler will need a big target other than Marshall and his tight ends.

Team Analysis: The NFC North will be the toughest division in the NFL. Detroit and Green Bay will be fighting Chicago for the division crown. The division will all see an easier non-divisional schedule by facing the AFC South and NFC West in 2012. Cutler will be more horizontal this year with quicker plays that won’t take long to develop. He will be thanking God that Martz is no longer calling plays and Marshall is back receiving his passes. Forte and new addition Michael Bush both have great hands. Chicago will have a very good rushing attack. Lance Briggs and Urlacher are another year older and they are still producing like Pro Bowlers. Their defense looked old at times last season, but they added a few younger pieces to help this squad regain their past dominance. You will see Chicago in the playoffs this season, but they may not get in as a divisional winner. The NFC North will be a fun division to watch play out this season.

2012 Wins Over/Under Line: 9 (Prediction: OVER)

2012 Projected Win/Loss Record: 12-4

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2009 NFL Preview: NFC North

I recently went through every game on the NFL schedule and predicted every game. I will be using those totals to predict who will win the NFC North this season. Will Brett Favre help the Vikings this season? Will Jay Cutler compose himself? Can the Packets defense step up and help their offense? Will the Lions win a game? Check out out NFC North Preview.

Chicago Bears– (Projected Finish 11-5)

The Bears sold the farm and got their prized quarterback. Jay Cutler is going to be a nice addition to the Bears offense. They haven’t had a decent quarterback since Jim McMahon, Erik Kramer almost had that title, but one good season doesn’t count. Matt Forte is going to have a great season and I would watch Earl Bennett to be catching balls left and right from Cutler. The Bears offensive line is sold and with the addition of Orlando Pace and with Chris Williams having a year under his belt, Cutler will stay upright more than he was in Denver.

The Bears still have a strong defense, but their Achilles heel would be their secondary, especially safety. The linebackers have to hold this defense together and makes sure that they control the running game, so the safeties can cheat a little to make up for the lack of athleticism at the position. They aren’t the same defense that made the Super Bowl a few seasons ago, but they are still very good.

The NFC North play the NFC West and AFC Central this season and they lucked out. Both of those divisions are a bit down, minus the Steelers, but Chicago gets them at home. The other non-divisional games are at Atlanta and they get Philadelphia at home, both should be very tough. The Bears should bounce back and make the playoffs this season and will at least garner a share of the division title this season.

Minnesota Vikings– (Projected Finish 11-5)

Brett Favre made the Minnesota Vikings as popular as the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers this off-season. There were more stories about them than both of those teams combined. Favre isn’t the quarterback that lead the Packers to a comeback season two years ago, but if he can stray away from the turnovers, he can help this team. All they need to do is give the ball to Adrian Peterson, throw some underneath passes to Percy Harvin and let him run, and go over the secondary and throw deep to Bernard Berrian. It’s a pretty simple plan and it will work.

The Vikings defense has been statistically one of the best defenses over last three seasons. The addition of Jared Allen added the extra pass-rushing presence that they needed to be elite. Pat Williams and Kevin Williams cog up the defensive line and make it near impossible for any running game to be established. The way to beat the Vikings would be to pass on them and allow the running back to help pass block. Antoine Winfield will pick off passes and make quarterbacks pay, but he is the lone star in the secondary.

The Vikings early season schedule is very favorable. It can allow Favre to get seasoned and get into better shape as the season goes by. The five out of the last six games of the year, they play possible playoff teams. They play Arizona, Carolina, NY Giants, and Chicago twice. If Favre can stay healthy all year, they will make the playoffs.

Green Bay Packers– (Projected Finish 6-10)

Packers’ fans have only two games circled on their calendar, at Minnesota, and home against Minnesota. I believe they realize that they won’t be a playoff team, but their season would be considered a success if they can beat Favre. Aaron Rodgers had a decent season last year and should have another decent year, if he can stay upright. Ryan Grant had an off-year last season and needs to produce or Green Bay could be looking for a new running back next season. James Jones and Jordy Nelson should establish themselves and up-and-coming receivers this season.

The Packers have put in a 3-4 defense and Aaron Kampman is going to play linebacker. It’s a change from a defense that looked like swiss cheese last year. The addition of B.J. Raji should help their run defense and look for decent seasons from A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett. Their secondary is old and they need to get younger. Al Harris and Charles Woodson have been in the league 12 years and are showing signs of age. Teams will be able to pass on them all day. They will need to score a lot of points to win games this season.

Green Bay is a tough place to play towards the end of the season. They get Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Arizona at home the last month of the season. They will need that extra Lambeau-edge to compete with those teams. The Packers are facing another tough season this year and need to re-build their secondary to be a contender.

Detroit Lions– (Projected Finish 2-14)

Good news for the Lions, they will win a game this season. Bad news for the Lions, they will lose a lot of games. It doesn’t matter who plays quarterback for the Lions, they aren’t going to win many games. Matthew Stafford will be starting by mid-season, but Daunte Culpepper might be a decent option to start the year. Calvin Johnson and Bryant Johnson are both nice receivers, but they need a QB to throw them the ball. They should rely heavily on Kevin Smith this year, but their offensive line still needs work.

Head Coach, Jim Schwartz, should help get this defense up to par, but they are still a long way from being good. They have some nice pieces there, but they will need to gel as a unit. Julian Peterson, Ernie Sims, Phillip Buchanon, Anthony Henry, and Stuart Schweigert should all help out. They have at least one good player at every area, but the depth is not there. If the injury bug hits the defense, it will be even worse.

The Lions will be searching for their first win in over a season. The third game against the Redskins could potentially be their first win, but that would be the earliest potential win and it is still a long shot. The sixth game agains the Packers or the seventh game againt the Rams could be when the winless streak ends. One game that I have to watch is the game on October 11th against the Steelers. I don’t think the game will be competitive, but it will be a good litmus test of how this team will react when they are faced with elite talent.
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