PICKIN’ IT: NFL 2011 – NFC Edition
- Dallas Cowboys
- Philadelphia Eagles
- New York Giants
- Washington Redskins
Offensive MVP – Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys. Michael Vick is the sexy pick. And he may very well end up being the best offensive performer in this division. But for creativity’s sake I’m going to go with Jones, who will no longer have to compete for carries with Marion Barber III. Jones is explosive and has dual-threat ability catching balls out of the backfield. With Jason Garrett calling the plays in Dallas, anything is possible. 15-17 touchdowns are not out of the question, believe me.
Defensive MVP – DeMarcus Ware, DE, Cowboys. The best defensive player in the league not named Revis might be Ware, who is still only 29 and still only the best pass rusher in the league. He has 80 career sacks, 15,5 of which came last year on a bad Dallas defense. Rob Ryan is the new defensive coordinator and will have plenty of opportunities to spring Ware into the opposition’s backfield all season long.
Impact Rookie – Ryan Kerrigan, LB, Redskins. Had to give my Redskins some love eventually. But contrary to what you may be thinking, this is not a homer pick; in fact, I feel strongly that Kerrigan could contend for Defensive Rookie of the Year if he adjusts to playing linebacker as well as Brian Orakpo did when he was drafted. If all goes well, the Redskins will have a linebacker tandem for the ages.
- Green Bay Packers
- Detroit Lions
- Chicago Bears
- Minnesota Vikings
Offensive MVP – Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers. This is the easiest pick in the history of the universe. Rodgers is a stud and should be the best quarterback of the next 10 years. He’s got a rocket arm, he’s got Vick-esque mobility, he’s as accurate as they come, and his IQ is through the roof. With Jermichael Finley back at tight end, and the best wide receiver corps in the entire league, expect Rodgers to approach numbers close to 4,300 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Defensive MVP – Clay Matthews, LB, Packers. No, he’s not overrated. Matthews is the real deal and while his numbers may have been inflated because of a monstrous start to the season, no numbers can do justice to how important he is to the Packer’s ‘D.’ He blows us plays, he crushed tailbacks, and overall scares the hell out of the opposition. He will come close to 15 sacks.
Impact Rookie – Gabe Carimi, OT, Bears. Camiri had an excellent career at Wisconsin but now finds himself of a completely different situation. His job: help improve one of the most notoriously inconsistent offensive lines in recent memory. For an tackle, Carimi is under an inordinate amount of pressure to make sure he’s a solid contributor on an offense that managed to reach the NFC Championship game last season.
*It bears mentioning here that no team has ever won this division in consecutive years. Also of note: since the division’s inception in 2002, the team that has finished in last place has won the division the next season SIX TIMES. In other words, this division is impossible to call and don’t be surprised if the Carolina Panthers end up 12-4. Seriously, the NFC South is nuts.
- New Orleans Saints
- Atlanta Falcons
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Carolina Panthers
Offensive MVP – Drew Brees, QB, Saints. I’m sure you haven’t forgotten the loss that the Saints endured in the playoffs last season. I know Brees hasn’t. That simple fact should make this entire division frightened. Brees will be a man on a mission and with a decent running game to back him up, he could direct the best offense in all of football.
Defensive MVP – Charles Johnson, DE, Panthers. The Panthers weren’t good last year, and they probably won’t be this year – but it’s no fault of Johnson, who gave the Panthers 72 million reasons to re-sign him after a breakout 11.5 sack campaign. Still only 25, Johnson should anchor Carolina’s defense for the next half-decade.
Impact Rookie – Take your pick. Honestly, while this division didn’t have a very good draft in terms of selecting for needs, every team drafted some form of player who will definitely contribute significantly for someone down the road. Here’s a quick rundown:
Saints – DE Cameron Jordan, RB Mark Ingram
Falcons – WR Julio Jones, RB Jacquizz Rodgers.
Buccaneers – DE Adrian Clayborn, DE Da’Quan Bowers, LB Mason Foster
Panthers – QB Cam Newton
- Arizona Cardinals
- St. Louis Rams
- Seattle Seahawks
- San Francisco 49ers
Offensive MVP – Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals. Watch out. Last year Fitzgerald put up 1,137 yards and six touchdowns, but he did that with a rotation at quarterback that could be considered awful at best. With Kevin Kolb under center, WR Steve Breaston gone, and RB Ryan Williams injured, expect Fitzgerald to get targeted an EPIC amount of times. Don’t be surprised if he grabs 110 balls for 1,500 yards and 14 TDs.
Defensive MVP – Patrick Willis, LB, 49ers. Willis is the 49ers’ saving grace, the player that they can hang their hat on as the best at his position hands down. On an awful team, Willis stands head and shoulders above the rest of the league at the linebacker position. While he hasn’t posted numbers as good as he did in his rookie season, Willis is still a lock for 16 games, 100 tackles, and five sacks.
Impact Rookie – Austin Pettis, WR, Rams. I’m reaching here, considering the Cardinals took Patrick Peterson. But I’m a believer in Pettis, a physical receiver who can bolster the Rams’ corps and give QB Sam Bradford a good target. Pettis won’t put up astonishing numbers but I think that 700 yards and seven TDs would be considered superb in an offense that lacks any elite playmakers at the receiver position.
SO WHO GETS TO THE SUPER BOWL?
Last year I picked the Packers. This year, I pick..the Green Bay Packers. Yes, I’m going with my Jets-Packers Super Bowl prediction of a year ago once again. The Pack won last year with nearly half their team on injured reserve. They get back RB Ryan Grant and TE Jermichael Finley. The defense is superb. The coaching is excellent. The Packers will repeat as Super Bowl Champions.