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.


  • related content

  • Predicting the AFC

    Wednesday September 3, 2014

    In the AFC, the Broncos hope balance between offense and defense yields a titleBroncos ante up on ‘D’Denver’s record-setting offense...

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

  • Cowboys coach Jasson Garrett, in the last year of his contract, has delivered exactly zero playoff appearances to owner Jerry Jones.

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

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


San Francisco - J. Peavy 7:07 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Houston 6:00 PM
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Washington 6:30 PM
New York
Cleveland 7:00 PM
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Atlanta 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Portland 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Phoenix 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Washington 8:30 PM
Buffalo 9:30 PM
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Chivas USA 8:30 PM
Real Salt Lake
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



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 NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
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




question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question