Mark Craig's look at the NFC

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2014 - 6:48 AM

– even possibly too poised – to repeat

Signs say Seattle?

It’s so hard to pick Seattle to repeat as Super Bowl champions because it makes too much sense. And the NFL’s popularity is built on Fantasy Football, gambling and things not making sense.

The Seahawks were a young champion a year ago. They’re amazingly intact. The Legion of Boom secondary is dominant and then some. They can still rush the passer. Their running game is top shelf. And their quarterback is young, poised, elusive, confident, accurate and, oh yeah, underpaid — for now, at least.

But it has been 10 years now since the Patriots were the last team to repeat.

Signs say Seattle. And that’s probably a bad sign in this league.

Jason & Jerry, final chapter?

If Adrian Peterson’s alleged desire to play for the Cowboys includes hangin’ with Jason Garrett, he’s probably out of luck, barring a midseason trade and switch to the defensive line.

Garrett is 29-27 and hasn’t done much besides perfect the art of finishing 8-8 and never reaching the playoffs. His contract is up after this season, which appears to be primed for a lot of passing offense and an even more laughable defense than a year ago, if that’s even possible.

Eli? Is that you?

Is it us or does everyone get that urge to doubt Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning every three or four years? Then they win a Super Bowl and for some reason the feeling goes away.

Well, they haven’t hoisted a trophy since way back in February of 2012. And things could be better for Eli.

Example: In Oakland this week, Matt Schaub lost his starting job to rookie second-round draft pick Derek Carr. This is the same Matt Schaub whose 2013 passer rating (73.0) ranked two spots higher than Manning’s 61st-ranked 69.4.

Manning did complete a lot of passes. But a league-high 27 of them went to the wrong team, including three for touchdowns.

Even Mannings don’t play forever. And this one is only signed through 2015. In other words, now, Eli, would be another good time to win a Super Bowl.

It’s the system, right Chip?

Confidence in your system is getting rid of a DeSean Jackson when the pain in your buttocks becomes too great and then not caring when he ends up with a division rival.

Evidence that your system works is watching Nick Foles come out of nowhere to lead the league in yards per attempt (9.1) while throwing for 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions in 10 starts.

But you just know that some are probably looking at Eagles coach Chip Kelly and thinking, “Oh yeah, prove it again.” Prove that last year’s 10-6 transformation wasn’t the result of a quirky breakneck offense with a short shelf life. And, while you’re at it, prove that it can be done with Jackson in Washington.

Don’t underestimate Kelly’s offense. Especially if his run defense, which ranked 10th a year ago, can keep the other team from resting its defense.

Lovie, Leslie & Tampa 2

Anyone who follows the Vikings closely has been treated to an almost daily explanation of why Mike Zimmer’s multifaceted defense is the way to go and why the more conservative Tampa 2 scheme that was a team staple since 2006 belongs in a museum next to leather helmets.

Well, there are places where the Tampa 2 still is revered. Look no further than, well, Tampa.

Former Bears coach and current Bucs coach Lovie Smith and former Vikings coach and current Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier have teamed up to strike a blow for the Tampa 2. Smith won an NFC title with it in Chicago, while Frazier probably came within a 12th man in the huddle of doing the same thing at New Orleans as Vikings defensive coordinator.

The Bucs have standout playmakers at all three levels of the defense and an offense that might be complimentary enough to help them become the seventh NFC South team to need only one year to go from worst to first.

Milestones ahead

With his season averages of 1,445 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns rushing and receiving, the Vikings’ Peterson would move into the top 18 on the all-time career list. He would go from 27th in rushing yards (10,115) to 16th or 17th, depending on what Steven Jackson does ahead of him this year. He would pass the likes of O.J. Simpson and John Riggins. As for touchdowns, he’d go from 30th (91) to 18th and pass people named Tony Dorsett, Eric Dickerson, Franco Harris, Curtis Martin, Steve Largent and Don Hutson.

MARK CRAIG





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  • Quarterback Nick Foles quickly took to coach Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia, passing for 27 TDs with only two picks.

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  • It would behoove Giants quarterback Eli Manning to have a bounce-back season, especially after throwing 27 interceptions in 2013.

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Los Angeles 7 Bottom 8th Inning
Chicago Cubs 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Oakland 0
Toronto 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
NY Yankees 0
Arizona 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Colorado 1
Boston - R. De La Rosa 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Milwaukee - M. Garza 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Washington - J. Zimmermann 6:10 PM
Miami - J. Cosart
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Cleveland - T. House 6:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Seattle - C. Young 6:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Wacha
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 3rd Qtr 1:47
Colorado 21
Marshall 41 3rd Qtr 4:26
Akron 3
North Carolina 20 2nd Qtr 12:15
East Carolina 14
Army 14 2nd Qtr 9:22
Wake Forest 14
Virginia 13 2nd Qtr 9:00
(21) BYU 10
(6) Texas A&M 24 2nd Qtr 9:44
SMU 0
Rutgers 10 2nd Qtr 11:01
Navy 7
Central Mich 3 2nd Qtr 6:14
Kansas 7
Utah 10 2nd Qtr 8:35
Michigan 3
Florida 14 2nd Qtr 14:56
(3) Alabama 14
Louisville 0 1st Qtr 15:00
FIU 0
Fla Atlantic 3 1st Qtr 2:55
Wyoming 7
Indiana 7 1st Qtr 3:12
(18) Missouri 7
San Jose St 7 2nd Qtr
Minnesota 10
Texas State 14 1st Qtr 3:38
Illinois 6
Massachusetts 0 1st Qtr 0:40
Penn State 6
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 4:00 PM
Portland
Houston 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
New England 6:30 PM
Columbus
San Jose 6:30 PM
Montreal
Seattle 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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