M21 NFC North Preview
This is a discussion on M21 NFC North Preview within the After Work Football League forums.
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Join Date: Sep 2003
M21 NFC North Preview
The teams reveals are complete, the landscape is set and now we really start looking forward to the cycle ahead! Today, we are going to take a deep dive into the NFC North. Here we find the commish, the longtime Houston Texans owner, returning to the only other CFM team he has known in the Detroit Lions. We have the first new owner of the Green Bay Packers in AWFL history and we have the well traveled Sir Felgar looking to put his stamp on the Vikings. Rounding out the division, Papa Perry comes in with 2 QBs (which usually means zero) and a pass rusher making QB money.
Team Ratings**Per Madden School, pre-release**
Bears-81 OVR (T-10th)
Lions-77 OVR (T-31st)
Packers-81 OVR (T-10th)
Vikings-80 OVR (T-17th)
Chicago Bears Owner-Papa Perry
WR Allen Robinson II (89 OVR) Robinson is a baller but he needs someone to get the ball. Iím not convinced the QB who will be leading the Bears is currently on the roster but whether itís Trubisky (72), Foles (71) or someone else, they have a prime-time target in A-Rob. This guy has the potential to be a top 10 WR with solid QB play but he canít carry an offense by himself.
OLB Khalil Mack (97 OVR) This is a no brainer here. Mack is a DPOY candidate who leads a ferocious defensive unit. The Bears are actually tied with the LA Chargers as the top 2 defensive units in the league (85 OVR) and it is no surprise with studs like S Eddie Jackson (89) and DT Akiem Hicks (88) playing alongside Mack.
MLB Roquan Smith (82 OVR) Roquan is a prototypical LB for todays AWFL with 89 SPD, 91 ACC and 82 COD. At only 23 years old, he will be a cycle long terror for NFC North opponents. We should see him ascend into the upper echelon of LBs in the league rather quickly and will be a great user LB for Perry.
CB Jaylon Johnson (73 OVR) We had to go with two defensive players because even though HB Montgomery (78 OVR) and TE Kmet (70 OVR) could become cycle long pieces for the Bears, Roquan and Johnson are young stars on an already terrifying defense. This rookie CB will likely be thrown immediately into the fire and will likely be targeted a lot by opposing teams with Kyle Fuller (85) playing opposite him. Johnson will get his shots early and often and could be one of the bigger steals of the draft.
Iíve played with Perry for many years and he has always been a stronger defensive player than offensive. This team is built for him but that really means that this team will go just as far as their offense can carry them. Who will start the season under C? Will young players like WR Anthony Miller (76), HBs Montgomery and Tarik Cohen (77) and WR Riley Ridley (69) be able to step up and help them get to the next level?
Detroit Lions Owner-RFF
WR Kenny Golladay (86 OVR) Golladay leads what is a very underrated WR group with Marvin Jones Jr (86) and Amendola (80) rounding out probably the strongest position group on the team. If QB Stafford (83) is healthy, the Lions should have a big year through the air.
DE Trey Flowers Flowers is the best of the former Patriots littered around this defensive unit. He hasnít had a very ďflashyĒ career so far but he is the model of consistency, recording between 6.5-7.5 sacks in each of his first 4 seasons. Look for the Lions defense to have a breakout season under new coach RFF with Flowers leading the charge.
TE TJ Hockenson (77 OVR) RFF has never been a huge user of his TE but I donít recall him ever having a TE with the athletic abilities of Hockenson. With 82 spd, 87 acc and a WR corp who will demand defenses attention, Hock could be a big part of this offense. The Lions also have some very appealing young HBs in Johnson (82), Swift (74) and Scarborough(69) but with a coach who loves to run a multi man backfield, it is hard to see any of them breaking out this season.
Jeff Okudah (76 OVR) Probably the biggest snub of this years rookie ratings, Okudah is one of the top CB prospects coming out of college recently. The bad news is the Lions lost big play Slay to Philly but they added Trufant (83) and Justin Coleman (84) who got some unexpected ratings love. This will allow Okudah to have a learning curve while not being asked to be the top lockdown corner on the team.
The Lions are starting as the lowest rated team in this division but I expect them to make noise and be a playoff contender starting in year 1. RFF will be able to make the most out of an offense who actually has some solid weapons. The defense is unspectacular and aging but this is an owner who gets the most out of his defensive units and will be able to put guys in position to make plays. Look for the Lions to compete for the NFCN in season 1.
Green Bay Packers Owner-Cheez
WR Davante Adams (94 OVR) Adams finally got some love and is rated as the #5 WR in the game this year. He is also about the only weapon Rodgers has so I can see him having a huge season as Cheez has no choice but to force feed him the ball. It is a steep drop off to Devin Funchess (79) and Marques Valdes-Scantling (74)
CB Jaire Alexander (90 OVR) This may be THE premier young defensive player in the league this cycle. Already the 4th best CB in the league and only 23 years old, Alexander will pretty much erase an opposing teams best WR for the entire cycle. The Packers will need greatness from Jaire as teams will target Kevin King (73) who was criminally underrated and Josh Jackson (71).
QB Jordan Love (71 OVR) Much to Cheezí dismay, Love was the Packers first round draft pick and Rodgerís apparent heir. QBís are hard to predict in Madden, where they could fall off a cliff like Rodgers did in the M20 cycle or retire after a single season. Love has some solid ratings but normal dev, the big question is will Cheez devote the time to developing him or will he ride Rodgers until he dies?
FS Darnell Savage (76 OVR) Savage has elite physicals with 93 SPD, 91 ACC and 84 HPW. He had a great rookie season and will look to build on that in what could become a very strong secondary with Alexander, King and SS Adrian Amos (86)
Cheez did a great job building up the Dolphins last cycle and really got them competitive. This year he is starting off with a team that has pieces in place and is ready to compete now. I think this season will be his best chance to make some noise as Rodgers is still an upper echelon QB and the defense is solid.
Minnesota Vikings Owner-Sir Felgar
WR Adam Thielen (90 OVR) Dalvin Cook was a tempting option here too, but Felgarís style is more to sling the rock and for the reason I think Thielen will be a more important part of the Vikings offense. Losing his running mate Diggs to Buffalo will hurt as defenses will be able to put more emphasis on guarding Thielen. The Vikings will need young guys like TE Irv Smith Jr (75) and WR Justin Jefferson (74) to really step up.
SS Harrison Smith (95 OVR) The highest rated S in the entire league, Smith is the heart and soul of this defense. He is a menace both against the run and in the pass game and teams up with Anthony Smith (83) to create one of the best S duos in the league. However, the Vikings are going to really need them to step up as their CB group is among the worst in the league.
WR Justin Jefferson (74 OVR) Jefferson has some big shoes to fill as the Vikings will really be asking him to be a Stefon Diggs clone from day 1. Thielen and TE Kyle Rudolph (84) canít be the only receiving options for the Vikings so Jefferson will likely step immediately into the #2 role.
TE Irv Smith Jr (75 OVR) The Vikings have a decent defense but they need a serious injection of youth so we had to go with two offensive players here. Irv Smith is a very good receiving TE and may be asked to play a sort of hybrid role as Rudolph holds down the #1 TE spot.
The Vikings have some tools but I think it is going to take Felgar a year or two to get this team where he wants them to be able to compete. I expect them to compete for the division in season 1 before taking a step back and reloading for a late cycle run.
Best New Rivalry-Cheez vs Perry
The NFLís oldest and most storied rivalry will lose no animosity in AWFL as these two guys know each other well. These teams are starting out pretty evenly rated so it will be interesting to see who gets the upper hand in this rivalry in season 1.
Best out of division game-Packers (Cheez) vs Saints (Hskr) Week 3
Two Packers fans. Rodgers vs Brees. Jaire vs Mike Thomas. Lattimore vs Davante Adams. Hskr will welcome his longtime team into the Superdome early in the cycle in a game full of interesting storylines. These two coaches never matched up last cycle so this will be a fun watch
Texans (Seran) vs Lions (RFF) Week 11
I had to sell out and pick two games in this one. This game follows a lot of the same storylines; Longtime coach facing off against his old team, etc. However, this game could have much more than that on the line. We have seen these two users square off in Super Bowls and huge playoff games. Although both of these teams have some building to do, this could be an early SB preview sometime in the cycle.
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