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Kyle Hanley’s 2014-2015 NFL Preview: NFC Edition

02 Sep

NFC logo

Welcome back. After dazzling you with my AFC preview, I am back for the NFC edition. Format is the same. I go division by division, team by team, telling you EXACTLY what is going to happen. Ready? No? Okay, well. Like, get ready soon. I’ll wait.

Okay. Finally done with whatever? GOOD. LET’S BEGIN THIS SHIT.

NFC South

Carolina Panthers

Player to watch: Cam Newton

I list Cam Newton as the player to watch because after this offseason, I think Newton might be the only professional football player left on the Panthers roster. Carolina’s blueprint for returning to the playoffs was to release everyone who had an impact on making it to the playoffs last year. Newton had ankle surgery in the offseason and when he got a first look at the wide receiving corps that he will be working with, I’m betting he wished he would have just gotten the whole leg chopped off.

The Panthers still have talent, particularly on defense, and the NFC South is anybody’s game, but I don’t expect Carolina to return to the playoffs this year.

New Orleans Saints

Player to watch: Jairus Byrd

If you want to know who the happiest person on the planet is, look no further than Jairus Byrd. This is a guy who spent the past few years playing on the Buffalo Bills and now he gets to go to the New Orleans Saints. This is the football equivalent of overcoming lung, pancreatic and brain cancer and then finding out a few days later that your dick has also grown 4 inches. I can only imagine the ecstasy that Byrd feels when he wakes up and hears jazz playing on Bourbon Street instead of…uh…people yawning and snow falling? I dunno, what kind of sounds do you hear while living in Buffalo? Anyway, my point is that Byrd is finally going to understand what it’s like to have an honest to God professional football offense led by honest to God professional football players out on the field, meaning he and the rest of his defense won’t have to play 90% of the game like he did back when he was with the Bills.

Atlanta Falcons

Player to watch: Bear Pascoe

Look. Hey guys. That guy’s name is Bear Pascoe. Fucking Bear! Now, I’m sure this is just a nickname, but I’m just going to refuse to believe that. I like to imagine Bear Pascoe gets to games dressed entirely in lumberback garb while riding in a covered wagon drawn by four actual grizzly bears. I mean, need I say more?

Oh, I do? Well. The Falcons should be better than they were last year since they’re getting Julio Jones back and their offensive line should be improved (not that that would be an incredible feat). But their defense is still questionable, which could be the difference between them enjoying a playoff spot in January or being fed to Bear Pascoe’s covered wagon bears because he is displeased with their poor regular season performance.

Guys. BEAR. FUCKING. PASCOE.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Player to watch: Zzzzzzzzzzzz

No, Zzzzzzzzz is not the name of some great looking prospect that the Bucs drafted this year (although knowing some of the names of football players these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are two or three dudes named Zzzzzzzz in the league). Nope, that was me falling asleep and snoring because the Bucs are fucking terrible. Who is their quarterback? Luke McCown? Or Jake McCown? Well, he’s one of the McCowns and everyone knows that looking at your football roster and finding a McCown on it is like feeling a lump on your balls while in the shower (huh, that’s the second cancer reference I’ve made in the past two paragraphs, hopefully it’s the last one). I feel so bad for Vincent Jackson, who is actually a pretty good receiver, and for Mike Evans, a rookie who looks like he could be pretty good too, because they might as well have an old Middle Ages trebuchet launching them the ball every play.

Actually, that would probably be better than any McCown.

trebuchet

The 2014-2015 Tampa Bay Buccaneers MVP.

 

NFC West

San Francisco 49ers

Player to watch: Everyone of them, because they are the best.

Now, the 49ers are my favorite team so I need to approach this with an objective and unbiased view.

The 49ers are the most unbelievably, talented team in not only the NFL, but the entirety of sports. At every position they are ripe with speed, athleticism, size, strength, physical play, and whatever else you need to be good at football things. Their coach is a chess grandmaster who plots and schemes five games ahead, giving anyone who has the misfortune of dueling him absolutely no chance of outwitting him. Even their cheerleaders are superior in every way: gorgeous, down to earth, and they’re huge fans of the show Breaking Bad. Their passing game is explosive, their running game overwhelming, their defense suffocating. They are but a gift bestowed upon us mere mortals, crafted by the celestial beings that live above us. We should feel blessed with every play we get to see them orchestrate as it is a beautiful symphony for the eyeballs.

They will probably get knocked out in the first round because I want a Lombardi trophy more than anything and life is cruel and meaningless and GOD DAMMIT WHY DID YOU THROW INTO DOUBLE COVERAGE LAST YEAR, KAEPERNICK, THAT NFC CHAMPIONSHIP WAS OURS TO WIN AAAAAAHHHHHHHH

Seattle Seahawks

Player to watch: No one. Because fuck the Seahawks.

What? Can’t you read? Fuck. The. Seahawks. They are worse than cancer. SHIT, 3RD CANCER REFERENCE. Last one, I swear!

St. Louis Rams

Player to watch: Shaun Hill

With Sam Bradford suffering his 90th (give or take about 88) season ending injury, Shaun Hill has to step in an lead this team to the promised land. Shaun Hill has been pretty much a backup his entire career, and when he has started he has been thoroughly mediocre. So he is right up the Rams’ alley! As long as the Rams’ playbook doesn’t have any pass plays that require Hill to throw longer than 10 yards, they should be in good shape. Hill has such little arm strength I legitimately send him e-mails, begging him to get tested for ALS to make sure he’s healthy enough to be playing football.

Their defense will keep St. Louis competitive but I don’t see them getting above .500.

Arizona Cardinals

Player to watch: Carson Palmer

Carson Palmer has the rare distinction of being the only active NFL quarterback who is also over 80 years old. Okay, I may be exaggerating on that stat. I think Matt Hasselbeck and Brandon Weeden are over 80 years old as well.

Luckily, as long as Palmer doesn’t miss any games due to death by natural causes, the Cardinals offense should be pretty decent. Their defense is a different story. It isn’t going to be as good as it was last year due to losing players to free agency and injuries. This is one reason why I don’t see the Cardinals repeating their surprise 10-6 performance last year. It reeked of fluke then, and it reeks of fluke now. Look for Arizona to be a roughly .500 team that fails to make the playoffs.

At least that would mean Carson Palmer will have more time to watch Matlock marathon sessions on VHS and make it to more early bird specials at the local diner.

palmer old

Carson Palmer, as seen after practice.

 

NFC East

Washington Derogatory Terms

Player to watch: Robert Griffin III

Robert Griffin III (or RG3 as he likes to be called because I guess he thinks he’s a cyborg or something) is an immensely talented athlete who also has the misfortune of having a body structure that is apparently made up entirely of Nilla Wafer. Griffin has had trouble staying healthy his entire football career, even going back to his college days at Baylor. So naturally, you think this intelligent young man would adapt his play style to protect himself from hulking, 300 pound defensive players trying to take his head off, right? LOL good one. RG3 still runs around trying to get that extra quarter of a yard so that the talking heads can go, “OH MY GOD, DID YOU SEE HIS HOUDINI LIKE ESCAPE TO GET THAT EXTRA QUARTER OF A YARD?” The only time I’ve ever seen RG3 slide is when he slid down fantasy draft boards because nobody expects him to not be injured for more than five minutes into the season. Sorry Washington Derogatory Terms, it’s going to be another long year of wishing Dan Snyder would get launched into a volcano.

Dallas Cowboys

Player to watch: Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones is known for being one of the most hands on owners in the league, drafting the players for the Cowboys, orchestrating their free agent signings and probably even being the one who performed Tony Romo’s back surgery this offseason. My prediction for this year is that Jerry Jones finally says, “Fuck it,” and just goes out and plays for the team. Jones could probably even manage to be the best player on their defense, considering how grotesque the Cowboys are on that side of the ball. Seriously, the Dallas defenders think the word “tackle” is a synonym for “stand around awkwardly and hold onto your dick.”

Their defense is really bad, is what I’m trying to say.

Philadelphia Eagles

Player to watch: Mark Sanchez

For a good deal of these teams, I would look up their rosters on Google and there would usually be a banner at the top that showed me the pictures of the players on the roster that I could scroll through. When I did the Eagles, I saw Mark Sanchez and laughed uncontrollably for ten straight minutes because I had forgotten that another team had somehow been hypnotized into thinking Sanchez could be a competent football player. Then I saw that in the picture, they still had Sanchez in a Jets jersey. So even the Eagles don’t want to acknowledge that Sanchez is now on their team. It’s a shame that he probably won’t see the field by virtue of being a back up/3rd stringer because Sanchez always finds a way to lighten the mood with his being terrible at football hijinks.

As for the Eagles as a team, they will win the division but only by default. Beating out the Giants, the Cowboys and the Derogatory Terms for the division is like winning a game of Goldeneye deathmatch when the other gamers were born without eyeballs or hands and are also dead.

New York Giants

Player to watch: Eli Manning

No, I don’t mean to list Eli Manning as a player to watch in the way that he forces you and your friends to huddle around the TV so that you don’t miss even one dazzling second of his phenominal play. I mean Eli Manning is a good player to watch in the way that Sharknado is a good movie to watch. With no offensive line to speak of and inconsistent offensive weapons around him, Eli is going to be a beautiful disaster this year. He will tread into slapstick comedy territory. There isn’t enough bandwith on the internet to support the amount of .gifs you could make from Eli Manning being terrible. If you hate Eli or the Giants or if you love fun, then you are in for a treat.

eli

“D’uuuuhhh, is it my turn to pway yet?”

 

NFC North

Minnesota Vikings

Player to watch: Jeff Locke

Who is Jeff Locke? If you don’t know who Locke is, just watch some Vikings games this year and you will find out very quickly. Why? Because Locke is their punter, and he is going to need to get god damned bionic implants in his leg if he wants to survive the season. If he doesn’t, he leg will shred into a long, tattered flesh ribbon from all the punting he will be doing this year. By the end of the season, the Vikings will consider changing their name to the Minnesota Jeff Lockes because of all the strength and effort they will see issued out from their brave punter for muscling through what will surely be a long, agonizing season.

Okay, they have AP so they may not be complete shit but they will be pretty damn close to complete shit.

Green Bay Packers

Player to watch: John Kuhn

There are few things as pleasurable in sports to watch than a white guy trying to be a running back. Now in fairness, Kuhn is listed as fullback which means he mostly blocks for the people that are actually good at the running back position, but there are times when Kuhn is in the offensive formation as the running back. And god, it’s a treat. The thing about it is the Packers only hand him the ball when there is only a yard or two at stake. They’ll give it to him at the goal line or when it’s 3rd and 1 because they know he can’t sustain a sprint for more than a few inches. Then, watch as Kuhn gets the ball and stumbles forward like a drunken man getting tossed out of a bar.

Luckily for Green Bay, they don’t need to rely on Kuhn’s running, uh, ‘ability’ to win football games this year. They have Aaron Rodgers and as such will probably win their division, the Super Bowl and then all of sports.

 

Detroit Lions

Player to watch: Ndmaadmdmasdkuong Suh

Ah, our favorite dirty player. Suh is like the fat bully character in a coming of age movie that acts as the antagonist, giving our heroes swirlies, stuffing them in lockers, and kicking them in the crotch. Only instead of that, Suh drives players heads into the ground, steps on their arms, and, well, kicks them in the crotch.

The Lions always come into the year with so much potential, with the aformentioned Suh leading a dominant defensive front, and with an offense sporting a big armed (and literally big headed) quarterback who just so happens to be throwing to the league’s best wide receiver. And yet year in and year out, the Lions disappoint. How? How could they possibly find ways to ruin their seasons? Is it a low morale problem? How could that be? It’s not like they’re based in a city that has more crime than any other city in the U.S., has rampant homelessness rates, is in financial ruins and quite literally bankrupt.

Oh wait.

Chicago Bears

Player to watch: Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler is a joy to watch. More specifically, Jay Cutler’s face is a joy to watch. His facial expressions range from “blank” to “slightly less blank”. The only time Cutler shows any sort of human emotion is when he’s yelling angrily at his teammates for forcing him to throw an interception.

I actually like the Bears this year, as long as Mr. Happy McSmileyFace Jay Cutler keeps the turnovers to a minimum and the defense doesn’t give up infinite rushing yards per game like last year.

cutler

Somebody’s in a good mood!

Okay, so here’s how I honestly think the NFC will play out.

1) New Orleans Saints
2) Green Bay Packers
3) Philadelphia Eagles
4) San Francisco 49ers
5) Seattle Seahawks
6) Chicago Bears

And the Super Bowl? That would be the Packers over the Broncos. Rodgers is MVP.

And just for shits and gigs, here are some other fun predictions:
Regular season MVP: Drew Brees
Coach of the year: Bill O’Brien (not because I think he’s going to be an outstanding head coach, I just think the Texans as a team are going to have a big bounce back year and when that sort of thing happens the coach tends to win this award)
Defensive rookie of the year: Jadeveon Clowney
Offensive rookie of the year: Brandin Cooks
Player most likely to get suspended for doing something stupid: A bunch of them

Aaaand now the NFL can officially begin. Sorry for spoiling all of it for y’all.

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Posted by on September 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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