d Big D & Chiefman’s OMFL PreviewSeason 7 NFC WEST We start off in the division with perhaps the most question marks this year. Heavy offseason turmoil saw the departure of two of the leagues most feared owners; Coaches Gaddy and West. The division basically has three new owners with Coach Winuvas taking over in St. Louis the last week of Season 6. Who will put the pieces in place and find the consistency to win this traditionally powerful OMFL division? In Predicted Order of Finish Arizona Cardinals (12-4) Strength: The defensive secondary just isn’t even fair. You have perhaps the games two best cornerbacks in Cromartie and Asomugha, plus very good and speedy safeties in Keylo Turner and Martwon Baldwin. Just sick. Teams will not be able to throw on the Cardinals. Weakness: The offensive line is a mess. They are glaringly weak up the middle, and their tackles are shaky at best. Jason Campbell is in for a long year under center. Deciding Factor: The Cardinals schedule sets them up for a very nice run. As long as Beanie Wells stays healthy and productive the offense should score enough points to win games with the great defense they have. Seattle Seahawks (10-6) Strength: A dynamic and potent offense with All-Pro caliber players at every skill position including Jamarcus Austin, Kentarious Fluellen, Steve Smith, and DeAndre Jones. Look for this unit to average well over 30 points per game. Weakness: Consistency. This is something this group has had a problem with in the past, but it must find it to get over the hump and into the playoffs. That means solid defense and a high scoring offense week in and week out, no lapses. Deciding Factor: The first 3 weeks will tell us all we need to know about this version of the Seahawks. They play the rejuvenated Titans, the reigning NFC West Champion 49ers, and the Coach Bruce led Falcons. 2-1 in this stretch would be impressive. 1-2 survivable. 0-3 and they’ll be watching the playoffs from home. San Francisco 49ers (7-9) Strength: The running game should be back in form again with Coach Sanano at the helm. Frank Gore and a very solid offensive line will mean lots of yards and a ball control style. Weakness: Alex Smith will be the league’s worst starting quarterback. You don’t expect to win a lot of games with the league’s worst signal caller. Don’t tell us about OVR ratings. Alex Smith is this league’s worst starting quarterback. Period. Deciding Factor: I just don’t see a Smith led passing attack scaring many defenses. Plus, thanks to the NFC Championship run last year the schedule is just downright brutal for the Niners this season. It is going to be a long year in San Fran. St. Louis Rams (3-13) Strength: Their running game will feature the best 1-2 punch in the OMFL with Ray Rice and Ronnie Brown sharing the load. They’ll also be running behind a solid offensive line. We’ll see lots of rushes this year from the Rams. Weakness: The special teams will not be so special this year. I think Coach Winuvas pulled his starting kick and punter out of some European Pub. Kahler and Paulescu who? And just who will return kicks for this team? Let the comedy begin. Deciding Factor: Coach Winuvas has never coached a playoff team during his OMFL Tenure. We see the problem being he never stays put long enough to build a foundation to win with his style. This being his first year in St. Louis means he obviously hasn’t had a chance to do that here either. NFC NORTH The NFC North saw the rise of once fallen Jeremy to the top a season ago. Other than his Vikings this division was a pretty poor sight. Things may change this year with the Green Bay Packers making moves and new blood in Detroit. Can the Vikings repeat or will a old rival rule the roost? In Predicted Order of Finish Minnesota Vikings (12-4) Strength: The defensive ends are just fierce, with Allen and Gambol combining for what has to be one of the scariest pass rushing combos this league has ever seen. Weakness: That offensive line….yikes. Even Adrian Peterson is going to have a hard time finding holes behind those five, and a sore group of tight ends. (Insert gay joke here) Deciding Factor: In the end it’s the coaching that puts this team among the NFC’s favorites. Even though Coach Jeremy hasn’t been the same in Madden 11 he is still an owner whose games are circled on everybody’s calendar. Green Bay Packers (9-7) Strength: Brandon Boutte. A one man record book wrecking crew. As we’ve seen in the past, its unlikely that Boutte will repeat such a historic season, but he will still be productive and the Packers’ best player. Weakness: When you lose Aaron Rodgers and replace him with a no-name or an aging veteran you are bound to have issues. Deciding Factor: We just love the inventiveness by GM Miklos during the offseason. With Boutte they didn’t need to throw the ball. So they cut Rogers, freed up cap space, and improved at other key areas. Win or lose we love seeing outside the box GM’s like the one here in Green Bay. Chicago Bears (6-10) Strength: Team Speed. As always with Coach Chris this team is loaded with athletes everywhere on the field. On occasion this has meant stretches of remarkable high flying offenses and lock down tenacious defenses. We’ve never seen consistent stretches of both from Coach Chris’ teams however. Weakness: With the exception of Auber at LT, the offensive line is just dreadful. They won’t protect Cutler and Forte isn’t going to find much running room. Unless something unforeseen happens the solid defensive lines In this division are going to chew up and spit out this group. Deciding Factor: There just isn’t enough team talent that the Bears put on the field to compete on a regular basis with the Packers and Vikings. When you are at a near standstill offseason after offseason what more can you expect. Detroit Lions (4-12) Strength: The Lion defense will be anchored by a very solid defensive line including rising star Ndamukong Suh. Free agent Robert Mathis joins the fray to play alongside speedy youngster JD Jones. This is going to be a fun group to watch. Weakness: Levi Brown is your starting quarterback? That washed up 350 pound offensive tackle? Oh, it’s not him it’s just his namesake eh? We’ve never heard of him. Good luck! Deciding Factor: It’s the Lions remember? NFC SOUTH One of the least known, yet most impressive pieces of OMFL Trivia is that Coach Nate’s New Orleans’ Saints have made the playoffs four consecutive seasons dating back to Season 3. The other teams have seen owners come in and out but nobody has mounted a serious long term challenge to his reign. We like the new ownership blood in the division, and Shiftee’s Bucs just keep getting better. If Nate is to make it five straight he is going to have to find some new tricks to deal with a wide range of styles he’ll see now from the owners in the South. In Predicted Order of Finish Carolina Panthers (12-4) Strength: The offense is as solid and as balanced as you will find in the NFC. They’ll be able to run with Stewart and throw with Claussen. Their offensive line is a solid 5, and their receivers can all make plays. The Panthers will be able to beat you a different way each week. Weakness: Safety play has to be a concern for this team. Often the most overlooked part of a defense, these are the last two guys standing between opponents and the end zone. What’s standing there for the Panthers are two guys that won’t worry anybody. Deciding Factor: There’s a new coach in town, and ThaFuture is going to show everybody what this writer already knows. . .he can play. With solid success in the PMFL and WFL to build upon, and a soft landing schedule we expect the Panthers to compete for the #1 seed in ThaFuture’s first season in Carolina. New Orleans Saints (9-7) Strength: Speed speed speed! It’s everywhere. OVR’s be damned. We want speed! We got it. It’s worked before. We expect it to continue to do so this year. Weakness: The Saints had the league’s best quarterback, but they ran into some serious cap issues and had no choice but to cut ties with their franchise player Drew Brees. Now they hand the reigns off to Rapelis. . .err Rothlisberger. Weakness we see indeed! Deciding Factor: Call it the commish factor, but for whatever reason either Nate plays his best in big games or the good teams play their worst against our league’s founding father. After 6 seasons I’d say that’s a trend! They’ll have to play good in big games this year because their entire division is now comprised of some serious Madden players. Atlanta Falcons (9-7) Strength: That offensive line is just manly, and Toby Gerhart should be able to run straight downhill behind those hogmollies. If Tyson Clabo plays well at RT this will be hands down the best unit in the NFC. Weakness: Their cornerbacks will be tested in this division, and it’s a battle the Falcons may often lose. They’ve got a bit of speed at the top, but just not enough and they aren’t deep enough either. Mario Williams and the front 4 will need to get serious pressure on opposing quarterbacks to hide this weakness. Deciding Factor: Bruce is back, and anybody who knows about this coach knows he brings instant respectability to any franchise. He has his hands full with a tough division and a defense with holes, but he’s proven in the past he can win in these situations. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) Strength: Another NFC South team with a very good offensive line. There are no holes here, and while the left side is unspectacular the right side will pound open some big holes in the running game and protect Josh Freeman well. Weakness: There is no true #1 receiver on this team and not one guy who can scare you with his speed. Josh Freeman has been solid though his OMFL years, but he will be tested this go around. Deciding Factor: Just how much can Coach Shiftee dominate with McCoy on the defensive interior. If he can have another MVP type season like he did in Season 5 then the Bucs can compete for the division title. Anything less and they’ll be in a struggle. NFC EAST This traditionally has been the conference’s best division and traditionally the divisions best team has been the Eagles. We know Coach Vishal will have his high flying squad back in contention but the questions remain about the other three teams. Our biggest eye will be on the New York Giants. Last year they made perhaps the biggest trade in league history to bring in perennial MVP candidate Maurice Jones-Drew. While skeptics criticized the move, there is little doubt that Coach Dave would not have tasted the playoffs without MJD. It will be interesting to see if the Giants have it in them to unseat the Eagles at the top. In Predicted Order of Finish Philadelphia Eagles (14-2) Strength: One through four, this is probably the best wide receiving corps you’ll see in the OMFL this season. Jackson, Colston, Moore, and Lincoln provide explosive targets for former league MVP Kevin Kolb. Weakness: Speed is nice but sometimes you need good ‘ole power right at the point of attack. Right now the Eagles are seriously lacking on the defensive line and while speed can mask deficiencies, we aren’t so sure they can hide poor Ricky Sapp out there at left end or the two stouges at DT. Deciding Factor: With Coaches Gaddy and West having departed the NFC, the clear pre-season front runner is Coach Vishal and the Eagles. We can’t remember a season when one team went into the year as big of conference favorites as the Eagles will be now. . .perhaps only the Season 5 Jaguars. The Eagles are hoping they advance further than those Jaguars did. Washington Redskins (10-6) Strength: Once upon a time the Redskins had serious issues at WR. Not anymore. Scott, Garcon, Thomas, and Decker make up what will be a great group. The one question will be can Hargrove get them the football? Weakness: We just made mention of it. Roc Hargrove at quarterback scares the heck out of us. When you build your offense around a stellar group of wide receivers you want a guy who can consistently deliver them the football. It’s not a good sign when that guy is going to be somebody who sounds like he came right out of a bad 80’s movie. Deciding Factor: When Coach Claven is focused he's proven he can beat anybody. Remember it was just three seasons ago when he reached the NFC Championship game with the Panthers. If he's focused (which is hard because he really doesn't like this version) he will be my darkhorse in a wide open NFC. Oh, and don't forget that the Redskins might be playing the leagues softest schedule this year. That always helps! New York Giants (8-8) Strength: MJD. This cat has won 3 MVP awards in six seasons, and he carried the previously hapless Giants into the postseason a year ago. He’ll get his yards. He’ll get his touchdowns. And everybody else on the offense will be better because of him. Weakness: The Giants are going to have to use smoke and mirrors to get away with the abominations they have at linebacker. Tyree Rush is good, but he is surrounded by some slow old guys that should probably have moved on to careers at the OMFL Network by now. Deciding Factor: We’ll go back to it one more time. MJD. If he is great again the Giants will be a playoff team again. If somehow the passing game can become consistent then the Giants offense will do enough to save this team from their defense. Dallas Cowboys (3-13) Strength: We could go with the receivers, but we like how Dallas has built their cornerbacking corps. One through four they are as solid as anybody in the conference and perhaps the league. Just the kind of group you need to try and fight the pass happy Eagles in your division. Weakness: Okay. There are bad offensive lines, and then there are the, “WTF are they doing?” kind of offensive lines. Really. Take a look. Deciding Factor: The Cowboys and new Coach YonkJoe ran into some cap problems this offseason that have forced their hand and made them cut some pieces that they will sorely miss, especially on that ‘WTF’ offensive line. Not a good sign of what’s to come in Big D.