Green Bay Packers: 12-4
Reason: The Packers have arguably the best quarterback in football. The offense may go to new heights. I really love the addition of Devante Adams, especially in the red zone. The offense will stay balanced because of the versatile Eddie Lacey; this will help them win the NFC North’s grind it out games late in the season. The defense will be much better. Julius Peppers gives the Pack another pass rusher. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will help the secondary greatly.
Chicago Bears: 10-6
Reason: There is no doubting the offense (if Cutler can stay healthy). Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall may be the best receiver duo in the NFL. Add Martellus Bennet and Matt Forte and its almost like a video game. The Bears defense was horrible in 2013 however. I do not see it being much better in 2014. This is why they will finish second to the Pack.
Minnesota Vikings: 9-7
Reason: The Vikings fresh start will fall just short of playoff football. Teddy Bridgewater will at some point overthrow Matt Cassell as the starter. This will energize the Vikings. Minnesota has a ton of young talent and it is about to start showing.
Detroit Lions: 7-9
Reason: The Lions play what I call pinball football. They rack up high scores and often their opponent gets the highest score. The Lions have a weak secondary and a flashy but not all that great defense. A good pass rush and Stephen Tulloch does not make up for their defensive issues. I obviously love their new defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin. However you have to give him the talent. The undisciplined Lions did not address key problems and it will hurt them in 2014.
Green Bay Packers: A
The Packers selection of Hasean Clinton-Dix at pick 22 was absolute gold. I had Clinton-Dix ranked as the 13th overall player in the entire draft class. The Packers also got high value in the second round, with Fresno State receiver Devante Adams. Adams is a good replacement for James Jones, who Green Bay lost in free agency. Adams gives Aaron Rodgers a red zone threat with his big frame and great jumping ability. Carl Bradford was a steal in the fourth round, if he was a little taller he’d go earlier. Jared Abbrederis is simmilar to the Packers number one reciever Jordy Nelson and was a steal in the 5th round. The Packers made no reaches, making 9 quality picks.
Detroit Lions: C+
Going into the draft the Lions desperately needed secondary help and they did little to ease that situation. Detroit selected the electrifying tight end Eric Ebron with the 10th overall selection. This improves an already potent offense. Detroit resigned Brandon Pettigrew so it looks like we will see many two tight end sets. The lions could have gotten the defensive help they needed, Kyle Fuller or Darqueeze Dennard would have made more sense. In round two the Lions selected Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy is a good outside linebacker but he is not a system fit. Maybe Teryl Austin is trying to convert his defense to a 3-4. Travis Swanson and TJ Jones were good values. Lions got okay players but all but ignored their needs.
Chicago Bears: B+
The Bears got good value with most of their selections. Chicago hit a home run with their first selection, Kyle Fuller. Fuller was the best fit at cornerback for their defense. My favorite selection from their draft us Will Sutton, a beastly defensive lineman from Arizona State. Ka’Deem Carrey is a stron lick in the 4th.
Minnesota Vikings: B+
The Vikings got their franchise quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater trading back into the first round with the Seattle Seahawks. This was by far their most important acquisition. Anthony Barr was not a great fit and a bit of a reach. Scott Chricton and David Yankee were high value selections.
1.) Its a good week for the Ravens to have an explosion of offensive production. They need points against the mighty Aaron Rodgers, and the Packers defense is not good. Eugene Monroe will get his first start at left tackle & is a major upgrade to McKinnie. Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown will be back in action. The Ravens were shorthanded last week at receiver but got big performances from Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss. Clay Matthews will not play. The Packers are short their best player, on the road when its all coming together for the Ravens.
2.) Rodgers will have his fun, but so will Terrell Suggs. Suggs is playing like a defensive player of the year, leading the Ravens in sacks, with 7. The front seven has dominated better offensive lines. Rodgers and his weapons will make some plays but expect the Ravens front seven to make more.
3.) This is a big moment for the Ravens quarterback. The Ravens are going to need points to win this game. Flacco needs to step up and deliver in a potential shootout. Joe is clutch & plays best in the big moments of big games.
Prediction: Ravens 34- 24
The Green Bay Packers are known for their high powered offense which is orchestrated by Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers. is one of the best quarterbacks of this generation. As long as number 12 is under center the Packers are a playoff bound team. There is a lot of uncertainty to the 2013 Green Bay Packers. Chief concerns include a lousy offensive line and a defense hoping to redeem themselves for a lackluster 2012. The Pack will always be a tough out because of Rodgers, but are they a Super Bowl caliber team?
The offensive line was awful at times in 2012. Rodgers got hit way too many times. In an offense that was so dependent on the arial assault sacks were too often drive killers. Now it should be mentioned that Rodgers will get that offense rolling any way. In the Playoffs however their inability to pass protect could be exposed. San Francisco, Seattle, Washington and New York (Giants) are potentially bad match ups for the Pack. Again Rodgers can beat any of these teams. The problem is these teams defensive fronts can pummel the offensive line of the Packers.
The Packers know they have to run the ball more. Running the ball will make their offense more dimensional. It will allow them to keep that offense on the field more to help out the defense. It will also help reduce the risk of injury to Rodgers behind a suspect line, if he does not have to throw it 50-60 times a game. This is why the Packers drafted Jonathan Franklin and Eddie Lacey. Both runningbacks have a combination of speed and power. Lacey reminds me of Jerome Bettis, Franklin reminds me of Ray Rice. Both runningbacks can catch out of the backfield. Both are good in the screen game, which is a must have ability forMike McCarthy’s backs.
The defense was horrible last season. They were not gap sound which led to teams running it well against them. Adding Dantone Jones from UCLA will improve the run defense some. The Packers still need pass rush opposite of outside backer Clay Matthews. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers likes to do a lot of crazy things on defense, and is an idol of mine. That said, he does not have the defensive players to go with his creativity in zone blitzing.
The Packers are the clear frontrunners in the NFC North. Rogers will give them a shot at the Super Bowl. That being said, there are flaws to the Packers team that could be exposed in the playoffs. San Francisco and Seattle are more complete teams who matchup well vs. the Packers. The Packers are Super Bowl contenders because of Aaron Rodgers but as a team the Packers are not Super Bowl Caliber.
The game of football may have trended to a pass happy place, but the game is still built on the ground. The running game sets up the pass. Defenses have to play aggressive against the run. Nothing is worse than getting gashed on the ground. Gashing a team with the run allows the offense to move the ball and eat clock, limiting their opportunities. Don’t get me wrong you need a good quarterback to win a championship, this is indisputable. But the best teams in football have both great passing games and rushing attacks.
Look at Super Bowl 47. The Ravens and 49ers are both teams that run the football well. When the Ravens get Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce going it sets up big plays for Joe Flacco’s arm. The 49ers have built their entire offense out of the running game. No team pulls defenders out of position like the 49ers. The zone read, the pistol it is all about big plays. When they get big plays off the ground defenders gear up to stop it. Colin Kaepernick’s dynamic play makes the defense pay. In other words the defense is dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t.
There has never been such a good time to be a good running team. Defenses lean towards small fast lineups in order to blitz and cover. Teams that can run and pass play against this design.
The Redskins, Seahawks and Texans have built themselves on a run first model. In these offenses the run is the foundation that the passing game stands upon. These are a few of the more prolific teams in the NFL. Do you think Green Bay took 2 backs in the draft for shits and giggles? Not a chance! They chose two running backs because they took notes as the 49ers ran all over them. Their division rival made it to the playoffs on the legs of running-back Adrian Peterson. Peterson is spectacular but his never ending success against 8-9 men boxes is a testament to how bad run defense has gotten.
I could go on forever but this is a quick thoughts post. It may be a passing league but the ground game is alive and well in the NFL.