Well, it's the last day of May, and you know what that means. Obviously, it means that the first NFL preview issues of the season are hitting a newsstand near you! Honestly, I keep joking about this happening earlier every single year, and yet every single year. . .it keeps happening earlier. But hey, it gives us something to discuss, so let's do that.
The first two magazines of the year are Lindy's Pro Football Preview, which I'll look at in a future post, and our subject for this discussion, the Pro Football Weekly NFL Preview issue. PFW grades each team in eight different categories, giving each position a letter grade on the school-style "A through F" scale. Let's take a look at where they've ranked the different units of the NFC North teams.
|Predicted 2008 Record||7-9||5-11||9-7||8-8|
|Odds to Win Super Bowl||15-1||60-1||20-1||15-1|
Honestly, I'm not sure if it's some sort of typo or what, but I'm not sure how PFW has the Vikings AND Bears listed with better odds to win the Super Bowl than Green Bay, yet still have Green Bay winning the division.
As you can see, when looking at the individual units, the Beloved Purple come out on top in 3 of the 8 categories, the Packers come out on top in 3 of the 8 categories, and the Bears take the other 2. . .sorry, Detroit. Overall, the only one of the rankings above that I can really argue with is the quarterback category. I discussed this with The Sports Guru and BigBlueShoe this past Tuesday on the SBNation Football Frenzy, and it still boggles my mind that so many football "experts" can be so completely sold on Aaron Rodgers and so completely convinced that Tarvaris Jackson will never be anything better than awful. On top of that, if we're looking at depth charts as a whole, I don't know how you can grade Green Bay's QBs any higher than Minnesota's.
For starters, comparing the two offenses, Green Bay's offense is much more dependent on the pass than Minnesota's is. Hell, Minnesota's offense isn't just a run-first offense. . .it's the run-first offense. Say what you will about Brett Favre. . .and I hate the guy as much as anybody. . .but Green Bay's running game got absolutely destroyed for the first half of 2007, and he carried that team during that time. Apparently, based on one whole half of football in a game against Dallas where he entered the game with his team losing by 17 points, some people think that Aaron Rodgers is capable of exactly the same thing. I, on the other hand, would beg to differ. Ryan Grant better hope he gets that big new contract here soon, because he's going to take a serious thumping in 2008.
As far as the rest of the depth chart. . .Aaron Rodgers has no NFL starting experience, and has played against largely prevent defenses in the games he has played. If he goes out and throws a boneheaded pass, he gets to go back to the bench, as most quarterbacks do, and discuss it with his backup. Oh, his backup just happens to be a rookie that's never seen an NFL defense before. And the guy that's backing up THAT rookie? Also a rookie. But, apparently, having three guys with a combined zero NFL starts and about 7 quarters of NFL game experience gives you a better quarterback situation than a team with guy that actually has 16 games of starting experience in the NFL and a 15-year NFL vet backing him up. Please. The Vikings might not have the best QB situation in the NFC North or anything, but it's certainly no worse than the team that, according to these rankings, has the best one.
Outside of that, as I said, the rankings appear to be pretty solid. Still scratching my head over the "Odds to Win the Super Bowl" stuff as it relates to record, but it's not my magazine. I'm just relaying what the nice people at PFW are printing.
PFW also has a feature that ranks the top players at each position, including a list of the Top 50 NFL players regardless of position. The ratings go on a 1.0 to 5.0 scale. Here are the NFC North players that are featured on the list and where they're ranked:
5) Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota - 4.55
16) Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota - 4.3
23) Brian Urlacher, MLB, Chicago - 4.2
25) Kevin Williams, DT, Minnesota - 4.2
46) Devin Hester, RS, Chicago - 4.0
47) Tommie Harris, DT, Chicago - 4.0
Allen is the highest-rated defensive player on the list. . .the four players ranked ahead of him are a few guys named Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, LaDanian Tomlinson, and Randy Moss (in that order). Pretty good stuff, I'd say.
As far as the individual positions, here's where NFC North players are ranked on the lists:
Quarterbacks - Jon Kitna #26, Rex Grossman #27, Tarvaris Jackson listed among "Top Veteran Prospects"
Running Backs - Adrian Peterson #3, Ryan Grant #20, Chester Taylor #29
Tight Ends - Greg Olsen #13, Donald Lee #16
Wide Receivers - Donald Driver #12, Roy Williams #17, Greg Jennings #22, Bernard Berrian #24, Calvin Johnson listed among "Top Veteran Prospects"
Centers - Olin Kreutz #3, Matt Birk #4 (huh?), Dominic Raiola #19
Guards - Steve Hutchinson #3, Daryn Colledge listed among "Top Veteran Prospects"
Tackles - Bryant McKinnie #7, Chad Clifton #9, John Tait #16, Mark Tauscher #17, Jeff Backus #24
Defensive Ends - Jared Allen #1, Aaron Kampman #6, Adewale Ogunleye #19, Dewayne White #28, Mark Anderson and Cullen Jenkins listed among "Top Veteran Prospects"
Defensive Tackles - Kevin Williams #2, Tommie Harris #3, Pat Williams #4, Cory Redding #19, Ryan Pickett #21, Johnny Jolly listed among "Top Veteran Prospects"
Inside Linebackers - Brian Urlacher #1, Nick Barnett #11, E.J. Henderson #19
Outside Linebackers - Lance Briggs #6, Ernie Sims #11, A.J. Hawk #16, Chad Greenway listed among "Top Veteran Prospects"
Cornerbacks - Antoine Winfield #10, Charles Woodson #11, Al Harris #12 (suck it, Woodson and Harris), Charles Tillman #18
Safeties - Darren Sharper #7, Madieu Williams #14, Atari Bigby #23, Dwight Smith #24, Gerald Alexander, Nick Collins, and Danieal Manning listed among "Top Veteran Prospects
Return Specialists - Devin Hester #1
Kicker - No NFCN players listed
Punter - No NFCN players listed
That's the inside scoop on what the NFC North looks like according to the good folks at Pro Football Weekly. Feel free to use the comment section to discuss these rankings, any agreements or disagreements, and just generally looking at the NFC North.
Not sure if there will be anything later on today or not. . .Mrs. Gonzo and I have plans for this afternoon, but I could possibly get something up here later on today. If not, be sure to check back tomorrow. Enjoy your Saturday, ladies and gentlemen!