Unpopular Headlines of Every NFC Team.

Hello my name is Dan, and I’m a glutton for punishment.

Okay so I’m aware that all I’m really doing here is setting myself up for a lot of internet hate, but I just can’t help myself… I’ve gotta do it. I’ve got to get these “truths” (which are entirely based on my opinion) off my chest. We’re going to go division by division, with this post covering the 4 from the NFC, discussing some of the less popular stories for every single NFL team, including a few that are I believe are somewhat unnoticed as well as some that are the giant elephant in the room. Anyway to show that no one is safe in this and that there is 0 bias, let’s start with my team.

NFC North

Chicago Bears – The Best QB in Free Agency, Could be one of the Guys You’re About to Release: Bears fans everywhere will be unfollowing me over this one, but the truth is that Cutler and Hoyer are probably better than Mike Glennon, the QB that Lovie Smith didn’t trust for the Bucs. The Bears need to be aiming higher if they ever want to achieve greater than mediocre and that involves not paying a career backup like he’s a franchise QB. This will be repeated a lot, but the Bears won’t be picking up a game changer at QB this year, so why not wait another year. This is a long-term rebuild after all.

Minnesota Vikings – Where’s the Conversation About Running Backs? The rumour is that Latavius Murray will be wearing purple this season, but really how much of a step up is he compared to Asiata and McKinnon? The Vikings ranked 32nd in rushing yards last year and are about to lose a 32-year-old Adrian Peterson. With a lack of standout talent at receiver for the Vikings, they need to be able to run the ball, or risk putting one of the best defences in the league on the field far too often. The Vikings are on the cusp of greatness, but it could all be for nothing without a vast improvement at running back.

Detroit Lions – Where are the Standout Players? Stafford has hit his stride. It’s fair to say that when we compile our top 10 QBs, that I will be strongly considering him for this list. The Lions were a fun team to watch last season, stealing a decent amount of wins in the dying minutes of games. Now though they need to be consistent and they still need to find out who are the key players on this team, including still finding talent to replace Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh. The Lions need superstars if they’re to take the next step out of mediocrity, as well as joining the queue for a standout running back, and depth on the offensive line to even stay relevant.

Green Bay Packers – This is a Declining Team With Glaring Needs: This will probably be the team I draw the most negative attention for and understandably so, but I do believe the window is closing. Aaron Rodgers is looking kinda like Peyton Manning in his later years at the Colts, the fact is he’s good enough to drag this team to the play offs, but he can’t make them win a Super bowl. So the glaring needs? Running back stands out, an area they will no doubt address in the draft, along with in my opinion a stand out future number 1 receiver to eventually replace Jordy. On defence they need help in all areas not least at outside linebacker, where they need someone to replace a declining Clay Matthews. This team has more needs than they can fix through the draft and it’s time to pull out the cheque book.


NFC West

Seattle Seahawks – Not Everyone can Play in the Legion of Boom: There is little doubt that the Seahawks will be addressing the glaring need on the offensive line in free agency, with  a weak crop of linemen in the draft. This felt too obvious to address, so I thought I’d approach the elephant in the room. The Secondary. The Seahawks need to know they can’t just plug-in anyone opposite Richard Sherman. Now they need to add some talent, who can work in both man and zone coverage. The answer to this isn’t a player on the roster and it certainly isn’t a former Seahawk, the answer if we’re honest is probably in the 1st 3 rounds of the draft. This is an area that’s relied on depth and reputation in the past. This can’t happen anymore.

Arizona Cardinals – Carson Palmer Won’t win you a Superbowl: Harsh but fair and pretty self-explanatory. Palmer went from a passer rating in 2014 of 95.6 and 104.6 in 2015, to a below average rating of 87.2. this included putting the ball on the floor 14 times (losing it 4 times) and picking up 40 sacks. Palmer was the 20th ranked QB in the league, which with the current talent on the roster and the players about to hit free agency, not good enough take advantage of the Cards Superbowl window. The Cards should be looking at picking up another QB, because frankly they don’t have a Superbowl winning QB on their current roster.

LA Rams – There Isn’t a Kenny Britt Replacement in Free Agency: Yup that one sounds weird right? The fact is that Britt has been a lone vertical threat in a talent poor team. Britt is not a top 10 or even a top 20 receiver, but really they’ll struggle to find someone better outside of the draft. So they pick up talent at receiver in the draft, with 20 million to spend in free agency they don’t have the cash to fix the many holes on the offensive line in free agency, to give Goff a fighting chance to be a franchise QB, especially with the limited early round picks the Rams have this year. Goff is currently being set up to fail, so why not try to keep the only 1000 yard receiver since 2007 on the roster at a relatively low price. This is a long-term rebuild (again) so give the QB a fighting chance.

San Francisco 49ers – This is the Year to Pick up a Future Backup QB, not the Starter: If I’ve worked this out correctly, the Niners currently have zero quarterbacks on the roster. The sad thing for the Niners is that really there isn’t a starter out there for this team.  Even if they’re relying on Kyle Shanahan to work some of his magic, they’re in a hole that’s going to take longer than a year or even 2 to get out of, with the struggle being very real for a 1st year head coach and GM. So they need to fix the gaps they can this year. Approaching free agency like the Raiders have, signing veterans to short-term contracts, as they build through the draft. If there’s any Niners fans out there that think their franchise QB will be joining the team this year, they’re sorely mistaken.


NFC East

Dallas Cowboys – The Cap Space Isn’t There to Make you a Contender: This was hard for me, as someone who thinks there is relatively few weaknesses on this team, but the fact is there is some and the Cowboys don’t have the cash to address them. Romo isn’t going to get cut pre-draft, let’s start there. If the Cowboys cut him now, they’re looking at $19.6m in dead money, which is frankly unacceptable. Sure someone could trade for him, but that’s a heck of a contract they’ll be picking up. The Cowboys are a great team that consistently dig themselves into cap space hell, with rear loaded contracts and there are a number of players that will be looking for big contracts in the next couple of years that they simply can’t afford. Oh and it’s worth mentioning that the biggest question mark about this team last year was at backup QB. If Romo hits the curb, this becomes an issue once again.

New York Giants – Eli may never work in the Ben McAdoo System: Like the whole of this post, this is just an opinion, but as the Giants team in general seems to be improving, Eli is treading water and still struggling to get to grips with a system he’ll have been playing in for 4 years in 2017. This is a concern, that hasn’t gone unnoticed by McAdoo himself, ripping his fundamentals and openly talking about drafting eventual Eli replacements. It is a lazy opinion to believe that Eli can lead this team to a Superbowl, simply because he has in the past when he can’t get to grips with what his offensive coordinator is trying to get him to do, surrounded by about as much talent as he’s ever been.

Philadelphia Eagles – There are Massive Question Marks at Offensive Tackle: On their day and in their prime, the Eagles have one of the best tackle pairings in the league. The problem is that their day has either past or it will never come. Jason Peters signed a new short-term contract this season, but comes with significant injury issues. On the other side Lane Johnson is one of the most physically gifted athletes in the league, but comes with suspension problems that can’t be overlooked. The Eagles need to add depth if they’re to keep Carson Wentz upright, who managed to keep the Eagles relevant despite a weak surrounding cast.

Washington – One Year Without QB Issues Wouldn’t go a Miss: Washington head into this years off-season with the most talent rich roster they’ve had in a number of years, so for starters credit to the Washington front office for what they’ve done over the past few years and credit to Jay Gruden for what he’s done with the team. Now it’s time to put their money where their mouth is. Washington go into the season with $35m in cap space and a ton of rookies looking for big paydays over the next few years. So this is the year to either give Cousins the long-term deal or kick him to the curb. This is a team that since drafting Cousins and RG3 they’ve had controversy at QB and now is the time to solidify the future of a team that’s nearing a Superbowl window that could snap shut in the next couple of years. Time to make a move Washington.


NFC South

Atlanta Falcons – Depth is Still an Issue in the Trenches: It was hard to find issues on a team that currently looks more complete than any in the league right now, but it has to be said that compared to previous seasons the Falcons got fairly lucky with injuries, in particular on the offensive line. Thomas Dimitroff has done an outstanding job of finding talent in the draft particularly in the later rounds. Maybe the Falcons should look at trading back, accumulating 2nd, 3rd and 4th round picks and take advantage of the depth of talent in this years draft. If not it could be a very different season for an on paper, talent rich roster, that could be torn up with a few injuries in key positions.

Carolina Panthers – There are Too Many Holes to be Relevant This Season:  There are some big question marks on this team. I originally went with “Is Luke Kuechly’s history with head injuries a serious concern for his future?” The Panthers though have a ton of holes that are going to cause problems this year. I’m at a point where I think it would be fair to compare this team to the 2012 Niners (although with a better QB). The list of the teams needs at a starter level are: running back, wide receiver, offensive line (a consistent problem potentially across the board), edge rusher, outside linebacker and corner. the Panthers do have $36m to spend in free agency, but with the needs at premium positions, that doesn’t feel like enough to turn this team back into a contender. They can’t simply rely on Cam Newton to single-handedly drag this team into the playoffs in what’s looking like a very competitive NFC South.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Yes they could be this year’s Raiders, but They Could Also be This Year’s Jaguars: I’m a fan of the Bucs and think there is a lot of potential on a team with few needs as well as $66m to spend in free agency. However we said a lot of the same things about last year’s Jags team who just couldn’t get it together. There are definitely comparisons between Winston and Bortles, with a somewhat reckless play style (although to draw comparisons between their fundamentals would be lazy). Now take into account a lack of depth on offence and a potential season with out the muscle hamster (sorry doug) and the potential for the “hipster pick” Bucs season to go South suddenly seems very real. I think the buzz about this team is very real, but with a few missteps in the draft and free agency they could be looking at another “nearly” season.

New Orleans Saints – Can the Saints Really Lose Brandin Cooks and Remain an NFC South Contender? It makes you wonder who’s calling the shots in New Orleans when this is a team that feels that they can lose Brandin Cooks, Kenny Stills and Jimmy Graham in the space of 3 years and still stay relevant. Brandin Cooks has had back to back 1000 yard seasons and on an organisation that has relied heavily on the passing game to keep them in contests over the last few seasons, you have to think they’d be keen to keep him, despite the emergence of Michael Thomas. Cooks has rubbed a few people up the wrong way with a couple of misguided tweets, but his talent is obvious. If the Saints do end up trading Cooks, I do believe it’s a win for the pride of a couple of people in the organisation over keeping an obvious talent.

That’s it for the NFC! Direct any hate male at Dan (which is me), through the Gents twitter page, and don’t forget to download the pod, where no doubt my colleagues at Gents tower will tell me how wrong I am (and rightly so).

AFC will be up in the next couple of days.