Anywho, NFL training camp starts TODAY. At least it does for my Bears. So that means it is time for me to lug my TV and my mattress up the dorm steps and report to camp as well.
In the next couple of weeks or so, I go thru 2 a days. Meaning, of course, I pontificate on 2 teams a day. I know other media outlets do this. Every media outlet. Sorry, I’m getting married in a month and that’s the best you get out of a guy who is looking more and more like an Iraqi grandfather with each passing day.
That should take us up to the start of the preseason I think. And, as an added bonus, I won’t talk about Brett Favre. At all. I promise.
Oh Lord, that is in poor taste.
Today, we start with the Super Bowl Champs, and their arch-nemesis in the NFC East.
All the Giants did last year was win 3 playoff games on the road, then pull off the biggest upset in NFL history (with the possible exception of Joe “I Want To Kiss You” Namath’s Jets winning one for the AFL against the Colts in Super Bowl 3…possible…exception) in defeating the 18-0 Patriots to win the Super Bowl.
How did they do it? You obviously have to give credit to the much-maligned Eli Manning, who negated what the Patriots thought was the game winning drive by leading the Giants on the real game winning drive, the football equivalent of kicking out at 2 ½ after being speared and jackhammered by Goldberg.
But, more so than any team in recent memory, these Giants proved that it really is what’s up front that counts. The defensive line boasted a 3 headed pass rushing monster of Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan, and Justin Tuck, who combined for 32 regular season sacks, and the offensive line made 3 guys who had never before been feature backs (Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, Ahmad Bradshaw) all look like more than able replacements for Tiki Barber at different points of the season.
You would think that Eli answered any and all questions about his ability by winning the Super Bowl. Well, nobody can take that away from him, but I’m also going to point out that he threw only 3 more TDs than INTs last year, and that the Giants ranked 22nd in yards per pass attempt.
The good news for the Giants is, that outstanding offensive line makes everyone that offense, including Eli, better, and it remains intact for this season. They also still have a number of options they can go to in the running game to control the clock and wear out the opposing defense. They lost Jeremy Shockey after trading him to the Saints this week, but, well, who cares.
On defense, Strahan has retired, but that merely downgrades the pass rush from insane to merely outstanding. Umenyiora and Tuck will still pressure the QB, which means that teams like the Cowboys who like to throw deep to home run hitting receivers won’t have time to do so against the Giants.
HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
The Giants won’t be as good as they were in last year’s playoffs, because, in all honesty, that would be impossible. I looked up “lightning in a bottle” in the dictionary and I found a picture of David Tyree balancing a football on top of his head. They are a rock solid team though, and it’s hard to picture any scenario that doesn’t involve a rash of broken legs on the offensive and defensive lines, or the Giants having to actually put new backup QB David Carr on the field, that doesn’t see them making the playoffs.
On Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys dismantled what looked like their only real competition for the NFC title, the Green Bay Packers, to move to 11-1.
Then came the Jessica Simpson Game, a 10-6 home loss to the Eagles which precipitated Tony Romo’s season ending meltdown, which saw him throw 6 INTs against 2 TDs in his last 4 games. The Cowboys scored a grand total of 3 TDs in those games, lost 3 of them, and saw their playoff stay end after one game for the second year in a row, this time losing at home 21-17 to a Giants team that they put up 76 points on in their 2 earlier meetings.
There’s an interesting chicken or egg question as to why the offense went south at the end of the year. Did T.O. disappear (16 catches for 173 yards in his final 4 games, including 4 catches for 49 yards in the playoff loss) because Romo has his head up his ass? Or did Romo look suddenly worse than ordinary because T.O. disappeared?
My guess is that Romo needs T.O. to be T.O. in order to look like an All-Pro quarterback. Without T.O., Romo, in my opinion, is Rex Grossman. T.O. is 34, which certainly isn’t too old for a wide receiver to be at the top of his game, but it isn’t that young either. I’m sure he’ll be putting up huge numbers at the start of the year again, but will he once again fade as the season wears on? The Cowboys better hope not, because they aren’t getting to the Super Bowl without him dominating in the playoffs.
A lot has been made of Marion Barber being made THE feature back, but in reality he was the feature back last year too, and earned it by averaging 4.8 yards a carry. The only real change in the running game is swapping out one Jones (Julius), for another (rookie Felix). Felix Jones certainly looks like an upgrade with big play potential, so the Cowboys running game may be just a bit more dangerous than it was last year.
The defense, which was great against the pass and solid against the run last year, made a nice upgrade when it added former Dolphins LB Zach Thomas.
Finally, the Cowboys hope they’ve added their own version of Devin Hester by picking up The (Make It) Rain Man, Adam nee Pac Man Jones. Let me go on the record as saying this was a good pickup, and he’ll give the team a big boost in the return game. Sure, he’s a fucked up dude, but there’s lots of fucked up dudes in the NFL, and as long as he can keep himself from being suspended, he’ll contribute big time.
HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
As long as T.O. is healthy, there is no way this team is not a playoff team. If he goes down, things could get a little interesting, as there is absolutely no depth at receiver behind him. But, just as you can’t assume the double play, you can’t assume injury either. The Cowboys will be formidable again, and will be one of the 6 playoff teams in the NFC.Okay that's it for today. I'll check in tomorrow with a bunch of crap on the Eagles and their vomiting sissy quarterback, and the Redskins and their new tap-dancing pass rusher.