Posts tagged NFC
Ball Don't Lie - "Drew Brees Don't Know Choppa Style"

KOLR-10 sports anchor Dan Molloy joins Pierce and Scott this week to talk about the MLB hot stove and the White Sox pursuit of Manny Machado. Plus Dan's been covering the Kansas City Chiefs all year, so we'll get his thoughts on Championship Sunday, the Bears possibly signing Kareem Hunt, the trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home and much much more!

Topics:
White Sox offer contract to Manny Machado
Possible collusion in MLB
Odds Manny signs with White Sox
Bears end-of-season press conference
Chuck Pagano hired as DC
Cody Parkey's future in Chicago
Nagy not shooting down Kareem Hunt to Bears
AFC Title Game preview
NFC Title Game preview
Kyler Murray declaring for NFL Draft
James Harden having another MVP season
Kyrie Irving and the Celtics' woes
Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer
Goofy Mog of the Week


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Celebrate your division champs by grabbing one of the NEW shirts straight from The Barber's Chair merch store!
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Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops January 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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79th and Halas - Pick your poison

Flows and Scott get you ready for Sunday’s season finale with the Vikings. Join them on 79th and Halas throughout the Bears playoff run!Celebrate your division champs by grabbing one of the NEW shirts straight from The Barber's Chair merch store!
teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair

Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops January 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
patreon.com/barberschairnet

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Ball Don't Lie - "Phillip Rivers is the white Antonio Cromartie"

The squad's all here. Scott Flows and Pierce lament over the firing of Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg and the lack of faith in the organization before moving on from Sunday's Bears loss and onto this week's marquee matchup with the LA Rams! Plus, more football goodness from week 13, predictions for this Sunday, our thoughts on Kareem Hunt, Urban Meyer, the College Football Playoff and more!

Topics:
Bulls fire Fred Hoiberg
Do you have faith in Garpax and the rebuild?
Chase Daniel brings back Bears fans' PTSD
Bears-Rams predictions
NFC East outlook
Chargers' chances in the AFC
Why no one gives a damn about the Texans
NFC Wild Card chase
Week 14 predictions
Goofy Mog of the Week! (who else would it be?)

A Letter to Bears Fans: Pick Ya Head Up

Over the course of the offseason, the Chicago Bears looked like a team that was ready to make some moves toward the future. Naturally, I was a little more invested in watching a Bears season opener than I would have been in previous years.

Unfortunately, this ended up being a game that will likely end up being mentioned in Aaron Rodgers’ Hall of Fame speech.

I’m here to tell you, Bears fans: better days are right around the corner.

I previously wrote about Chicago’s playoff hopes and how the rest of the NFC is so stacked. However, the rest of the NFC didn’t show up in week one. The Cowboys, 49ers, Saints, Giants, Seahawks, Cardinals, and Lions all lost. The Panthers and Eagles showed up on defense as expected, but the door was open for both teams to score a lot more. Neither team even cracked 20 points.

The bad news is that Kirk Cousins already looks acclimated with the division rival, Minnesota Vikings. The good news is that everyone else in the NFC looked so poor that the NFC North has a chance to send three teams to the playoffs. The Detroit Lions are not one of them.

Let’s talk about the positives from Sunday’s game. Every new offensive weapon in Chicago already showed some flash of potential. Allen Robinson still has vice grips for hands and Taylor Gabriel is still as quick as ever. Trey Burton only had one catch but was targeted six times. That connection will improve with time. Anthony Miller also chipped in with two catches in his NFL debut.

The run game looked absolutely fantastic. Jordan Howard averaged 5.5 yards per carry and was more involved in the passing game than I expected. Tarik Cohen added another 5.0 YPC with three catches of his own. They were the perfect compliment to each other. Mitchell Trubisky left a little to be desired in his accuracy and decision-making, but showed the ability to move in the pocket and a willingness to run.

I don’t even need to say much about Khalil Mack. Although this game ended in a loss, I’m sure every Bears fan is looking forward to the next few seasons with him coming off the edge. Roquan Smith wasn’t on the field as much as fans hoped but his first play alongside Mack ended in a sack.

Yes, Aaron Rodgers immortalized himself to an even greater extent in this game, but I didn’t see it as an indication of the lack of talent on the Bears. Aaron Rodgers is capable of doing this to every team. The Bears just so happened to be in his way on this particular week.

Even before the Aaron Rodgers injury, Chicago was getting stops and pressures on the Packers offense. The Randall Cobb touchdown to put Green Bay ahead was just a perfect example of a quarterback knowing his receiver after years of playing together. If you look across the NFL, you wont find chemistry between a QB and receiver like Rodgers & Cobb unless you’re talking about Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowksi or Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown.

The one piece of advice I’ll give to fans: the Bears were up 20-17 with 2:47 left in the game. It was 3rd &1 and the Packers had no timeouts left. Jordan Howard had just ran for 12 yards on the previous play in an incredible effort. With all of that apparent, the Bears still decided to pass the ball for some reason. It ended up being incomplete, which stopped the clock. The Packers scored the game-winner soon after.

I’m still trying to figure out why they couldn’t trust their best offensive player to get a single yard. Even if he doesn’t pick up the first down, you still give less time to the Packers to work with. If they can identify what went wrong on that specific play, the Chicago Bears should be able to compete with anybody this year.

Even if they finish this season around 7-9 or 8-8, their games will remain close. All of the new additions mean it will take a little extra time for everyone to gel together. As deflating as the outcome was, there was more to be optimistic in that Sunday night game than not. Be patient.

2018 NFC Playoff Outlook

Every season we tend to see around five new teams emerge during the season and make their way into the playoffs.  Most of them are surprises too. 

Last season the Rams and Eagles took two giant premature steps forward.  I didn't expect much from either team last year but now they both have the appearance of perennial contenders.  An injury to Aaron Rodgers allowed for three NFC South teams to book a playoff ticket. 

A lot can happen so let's take a look at a few certain contenders along with some of those potential surprises.   

Tier 1: Locked In

New Orleans Saints
Minnesota Vikings
Los Angeles Rams

The Saints were one Stefon Diggs touchdown away from having a real shot at winning the Super Bowl last year.  No more wonders of how Adrian Peterson is going mesh with the offense. Mark Ingram will be suspended for the first four games but they have no problem making Alvin Kamara the focal point of the offense until then. Michael Thomas, Cameron Meredith, and Ted Ginn Jr. are already a solid foundation but rookie Tre'Quan Smith adds even more raw speed.

Speaking of rookies, first round DE Marcus Davenport makes his way onto a stout defense led by sophomore CB Marshon Lattimore. 

The Vikings made all the way to the conference finals on the back of Case Keenum before getting embarrassed by the Eagles. They've been contenders for the past several seasons thanks to their elite defense so they have no concerns on that side of the ball. Their offense has gotten better every year and now it takes another step forward.

Replacing Keenum is Kirk Cousins, who's is a more willing runner and deep ball thrower. Dalvin Cook returns from an injury that derailed his rookie season after four games.  He possesses the best traits of both Jerick McKinnon and Latavis Murray and was actually on pace to lead the league in rushing at the time of his injury. 

Sean McVay was the blessing that Jared Goff and Todd Gurley needed. New life was injected into the Rams' passing game and the addition of Andrew Whitworth at left tackle gave Gurley some actual lanes to run through. Sammy Watkins was a great asset in the red zone but I think Brandin Cooks is an upgrade for the type of uptempo offense they run.

The defense lost Trumaine Johnson but added Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Sam Shields, and Ndamukong Suh so they should be all set. 

Tier 2: Not Far Behind

Philadelphia Eagles
Carolina Panthers
Green Bay Packers
Atlanta Falcons

The only reason I have the defending Super Bowl Champion Eagles right here is because Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffrey are currently working their way back from injuries. If they're forced to missed time then that may cost them a couple of games. Regardless, their defense alone should win them games. I'm not concerned.

The Carolina Panthers have one of the most consistently disciplined defenses in the league regardless of who they plug in there. The offense tends to be a tad on the inconsistent side but everything is currently aligning. Greg Olsen and Curtis Samuel are back and healthy. Christian McCaffrey is expected to take a big leap this year as the projected three-down back.

On top of that, first-round rookie receiver DJ Moore was viewed by many as the most talented prospect in his position's draft class. If everything clicks, they could beat anybody.

Green Bay still had a chance to make the playoffs even with all of the time that Aaron Rodgers missed. Ted Thompson is no longer the GM so now they'll actually participate in free agency going forward.  Brian Gutekunst made that apparent with the signings of Muhammad Wilkerson and Jimmy Graham this offseason.  Graham has surely lost a step but he'll have no problem hauling in all those red zone targets that Jordy Nelson left behind.

From a fantasy perspective, their RB situation is messy. From a real-life perspective, they have three guys (Ty Montgomery, Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams) that can start and produce on any given week. We all know their offense is a threat but their defense is sneaky good and is loaded with talent at all three levels. 

The Falcons' offense looked watered down in 2017 as they transitioned from a Kyle Shanahan offense to a Steve Sarkisian-led side.  Despite the step down, they still made the playoffs in a difficult division.  If they can get a better grasp on Sarkisian's scheme then they have all the pieces to return to form.  

Tier 3: Don't Be Surprised

New York Giants
Chicago Bears
San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals

In 2016 we saw the emergence of a stingy Giants defense that paved a way to the playoffs.  We didn't see that same defense in 2017.  The offense couldn't help them at all.  The entire receiving corps was depleted with injuries and there was zero semblance of a run game.  Now that 2016 team gets Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley.  I'm sure they're excited about a healthy Odell Beckham too. 

The Bears had a top 10 defense last year which a lot of people don't realize.  It's pretty impressive considering their offense was at the bottom of the league in terms of total plays ran. Jordan Howard has managed to be successful in vanilla schemes but now the training wheels are off in Matt Nagy's new offense.

Just like the Giants, they didn't have anybody to throw the ball to last season. Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel, and Anthony Miller hope to aid Mitchell Trubisky make a leap similar to Jared Goff with his revamped team.

If I wrote this a couple months ago then I might have had the 49ers a tier higher. The hype surrounding them has been immense so I've tried to temper my expectations recently. The once elite defense has been a place mat in recent years but the front seven is young and promising. Richard Sherman also provides a type of intelligence and star power the team hasn't seen since Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman were together. Jerick McKinnon isn't as good between the tackles as Carlos Hyde but has a better knack for catching the ball which is what Kyle Shanahan is looking for.

The Cardinals could hover around 8-8 or even 9-7 this season, but they face a similar problem to the other teams in their tier. If everything goes right for the previous teams then the conference may be too crowded to let everyone into the playoffs. The Cardinals are probably one more year out from returning to prominence.

Their defense always lands in the upper half of the league, David Johnson is back, and they have a Hall of Famer in Larry Fitzgerald at wide receiver. The glaring problem is the quarterback situation. Sam Bradford is talented enough to lead a playoff team but can never stay healthy for a full season.  Even if he is healthy, they may be too eager to get Josh Rosen on the field. Rosen will probably have the QB position set in stone by next season but Larry Fitz may be gone by then.