Monday, November 07, 2005

NFC Report
By Zach

In what's apparently becoming a weekly ritual for me, I'll take a look at the contenders in the NFC, especially how they stack up against the Seahawks.

The Real Deal (maybe)

Atlanta Falcons (6-2)

Outlook: Besides the fact that the Seahawks already beat them this year, this team has serious problems. Despite getting the best game of Mike Vick's season they struggled to beat a 3-5 Miami team. They still lack playmakers at wideout, Warrick Dunn may be prone to wearing down over the second half, and they continue to struggle stopping the run, allowing 119 yards on 22 carries by Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown combined. Their second-half schedule includes 5 NFC South games.

Remaining schedule: GB, TB, @DET, @CAR, NO, @CHI, @TB, CAR

Carolina Pathers (6-2)

Outlook: According to me, they were the team to beat in the NFC this year. Their current five-game winning streak hasn't done much to change my mind. They still need another wideout to emerge to compliment Steve Smith, and their running game has struggled, especially between the 20s. If they can stay healthy, they're probably the most balanced team in the NFC, and the Seahawks' biggest competition for the #1 seed.

Remaining schedule: NYJ, @CHI, @BUF, ATL, TB, @NO, DAL, @ATL

New York Giants (6-2)

Outlook: Their 6-2 record is a phantom. They remain a strong team at home, but their road woes continued this week against San Francisco. Ignore the 24-6 score and realize that they struggled to run the ball against a mediocre 49er defense. Plus, Eli Manning has completed just 52% of his passes this year. They may not win another road game this year, and have several tough home games as well. Plus, if they make the playoffs after getting nine home games the NFL should be ashamed.

Remaining schedule: MIN, PHI, @SEA, DAL, @PHI, KC, @WAS, @OAK

Seattle Seahawks (6-2)

Outlook: Three weeks ago they got one monkey off their back by winning in St. Louis. Two weeks ago, another large primate was removed when they came back late against the Cowboys. Yesterday, a third simian had to find a new home after they won after their bye for the first time under Mike Holmgren. Their defense mostly kept the Cardinals out of the endzone, while Shaun Alexander continued his MVP campaign. He's currently on pace for an NFL-record 28 rushing TDs this season (and a nice contract from someone). With the way their offense is playing, and their remaining schedule, they've got a legitimate shot at the #1 seed in the NFC. Of their remaining opponents, only Indianapolis and the Giants are above .500. A 6-2 second half is well within grasp and would likely be enough for a first-round bye. A win over the Rams next week would complete the season sweep and basically lock up the NFC West.

Remaining schedule: STL, @SF, NYG, @PHI, SF, @TEN, IND, @GB

Could Make Some Noise

Chicago Bears (5-3)

Outlook: Da Bears remain the class of the NFC North for now. While Minnesota may make a bit of a run with Brad Johnson, the Bears hold a two game lead. Plus, they've got the best defense in the division. A 5-3 second half should be managable, as they get two of their toughest games (Carolina, Atlanta) at home. Still, without any semblance of an offense they remain no threat to gain home field advantage for anything beyond a first-round game.

Remaining schedule: SF, CAR, @TB, GB, @PIT, ATL, @GB, @MIN

Dallas Cowboys (5-3)

Outlook: With the meteoric fall of the Eagles and my doubts about both the Giants and the Redskins, they'd be my pick to win the NFC East. Well, except for the fact that Drew Bledsoe is guaranteed to cost them a couple more games and they can't hold leads. Furthermore, their remaining schedule is brutal, and their only remaining NFC East games are on the road. The late losses to Washington and Seattle will end up costing them a playoff spot.

Remaining schedule: @PHI, DET, DEN, @NYG, KC, @WAS, @CAR, STL

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-3)

Outlook: They're done. Besides playing in an extremely tough division, they're stuck with Chris Simms at QB. Even if they go to Tim Rattay immediately, they still face an uphill climb to get back into the division race, and with Simms costing them at least one sure win (@SF), they, like the Cowboys, will be left saying "what if" when the season ends. Plus, their running game has all but disappeared.

Remaining schedule: WAS, @ATL, CHI, @NO, @CAR, @NE, ATL, NO

Washington Redskins (5-3)

Outlook: Their win over the Eagles last night was huge for this team. Their remaining schedule doesn't look nearly as daunting with the sudden decline of the Eagles, and they get their other two division rivals at home. If they can get Clinton Portis to stop inventing bizarre alter egos and wearing mismatching socks, they might be able to regain their spot atop the division.

Remaining schedule: @TB, OAK, SD, @STL, @ARI, DAL, NYG, @PHI

The Rest

Philadephia Eagles (4-4)

Outlook: Well, their best player just got suspended for the year. Their second best player is playing hurt, and they can't run the ball. Plus, their defense can't stop anyone. Besides that, everything's looking great in Philly. Well, except the Sixers. But hey, the Flyers are in second place. My prediction is that the Eagles and Sixers will end up with the same picks in their respective drafts (12th).

Remaining schedule: DAL, @NYG, GB, SEA, NYG, @STL, @ARI, WAS

St. Louis Rams (4-4)

Outlook: Well, with Mike Martz done as head coach, they actually look pretty good. Joe Vitt has seemed willing to run the ball, and Marc Bulger, Torry Holt, and Isaac Bruce could all be back next week against the Seahawks. They've dug themselves a bit of a hole, and if they lose to the Hawks they'll probably never get themselves out of it. Still, with their remaining schedule they should be able to fight their way back into the playoff picture.

Remaining schedule: @SEA, ARI, @HOU, WAS, @MIN, PHI, SF, @DAL

Playoff Predictions

NFC East: Washington Redskins (11-5)
NFC North: Chicago Bears (10-6)
NFC South: Carolina Panthers (12-4)
NFC West: Seattle Seahawks (12-4)
Wildcard: Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
Wildcard: New York Giants (10-6)

Redskins over Giants
Falcons over Bears

Seahawks over Redskins
Panthers over Falcons

If you ask me, it looks pretty likely that Seattle v. Carolina will be the NFC title game. Who wins? I can't say.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Falcons do have some issues-rushing defense and passing, but they thoroughly dominated the Dolphins in Miami. This game should have been a wider margin if not for some poor turnovers. Nobody looks that dominate in the NFC and if Mora and Vick stick to Finneran and Crumpler as the go to guys this team should be able to make the Super Bowl.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

Well, first of all the turnovers are part of the problem. They're one of the ways good teams let bad teams stay in games. Second, the problem with the Falcons is that you never know what kind of game you're going to get from Vick. One game he can look great, making all his throws and scrambling effectively and the next he'll be bouncing passes or overthrowing them, getting jittery in the pocket and scrambling too quickly. Every year we hear that he's figured it out, but each of the last three he's had the same problems.

10:52 PM  

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