Trent Baalke’s drafts don’t tend to light a fire under the fan base that burns brightly for several weeks, accompanied by lots of gushing and slobbering. Just the opposite. Head scratching is more like it. With Baalke, you have to wait to see them play. And with last year’s number one pick, AJ Jenkins, we’re still waiting.
It’s amazing how many teams look like contenders after the FA period and the draft. It’s tough figuring out which of them still aren’t worth a crap.
For openers, in our own NFC West division, Arizona seems to be hands down POS #1. This is as close to a sure bet last place team as there is in the NFC. New AZ head coach, Bruce Arians, must have been really, really desperate to be an HC to have taken this job.
But, AZ won’t be the worst team in football. Those candidates are all in the AFC: Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the New York Jets. You can practically write in the AFC playoff teams for next year: New England, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and one other wild card team from the likes of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Kansas City, and Miami.
The NFC is a different story. The weakest division might be the NFC East. But you’ve got the every-other-year Giants, the rising Redskins, the unknown Chip Kelly Eagles, and the fail-in-the-clutch Romoettes. The East Coast media will carry these lunkards on their backs all season long, whether they’re wheezing or not.
The NFC South looks like a fireworks display among Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan, with a dogged defense-and-running-game contender in Tampa Bay. The Bucs were this year’s Free Agency Dream Team winners, with high-profile, big dollar, signings of Darrell Revis and Dashon Goldson. They still have Josh Freeman at QB, though, and that is not a good thing.
The NFC North is the Packers and whoever bubbles up this year among the Bears, Vikings, and Lions. Those three have traded second banana top billing the past three years and are going to make it a fourth. None of them are SB contenders and all of them are barely in the running to squeak into the wild card round of the playoffs.
But the NFC West is going to be a bruiser, folks. The early power polls are out, and Seattle and San Francisco are right up there on top of it. The place usually reserved for the Patriots and Packers. St. Louis isn’t ready to be an SB contender, but they went 4-1-1 in the division last year — a better mark than either SF or Seattle. They can compete with anyone.
All in all, the NFC looks like a dog fight this year. It’s hard to see any team launching a 14-2 or 13-3 type of season. There’s just too many good teams and most of them are playing each other. NFC South vs NFC West. The conference is liable to be decided in those games and they should be exciting.