May Red just say, “He hates this division.” Red is not entirely sure why, but he has always disliked having to pick winners and LOSERS from this one. Which is curious because the NFC-North contains three of the most venerable franchises in the league. The Lions started as the Portsmouth Spartans in 1929 moving to Detroit in 1934 and played in the first official playoff game – the 1932 Championship against the Bears (played because the teams ended the season tied for first place). The Packers joined the league in 1921, the second official NFL season. And the Bears can lay claim being one of the two original NFL franchises (as the Decatur Staleys) still in existence. The Arizona Cardinals (nee Chicago Cardinals) are the other. The Vikings are the upstart newcomer having joined the league in 1961 to increase the NFL to a whopping 14 teams.
Minnesota Vikings – New quarterback – new offensive coordinator – new challenge with first place schedule – all could add up to a tough season. Many commentators are looking at a difficult schedule and predicting a big fall off for the Nordic warriors. Red doesn’t see the NFC -West as all that tough as the Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams and 49ers are all overrated. The NFC – East component should be even easier unless the Bills and Dolphins step up – and Red thinks the more likely scenario has those teams stepping in it. Red is not high on Kirk Cousins but he made a really pathetic OTNAs team look decent at times. The big question is what to do about the running game with the loss of Jerrick McKinnon and no real answer for a solid replacement. So why the Vikings? Like he said, Red has to pick someone. Minnesota sleds to a tough 10-6 record.
Chicago Bears – Every season one formerly pathetic excuse for a professional football somehow picks itself up off the garbage pile and starts winning games. Red’s pick for worst to (almost) first this season is the Bears. Red’s just going with his ever growing gut on this one. And Red will be putting an “I Like Mitch Trubisky” bumper sticker on his car – just so people will wonder – “Who the hell is Mitch Trubisky?” To which Red could answer, “He’s the poor man’s Kirk Cousins.” Chicago also goes 10-6 but only gets Wild Card spot – Maybe – stay tuned.
Green Bay Packers – Red admires the 200 some thousand Green Bay Packers, Inc. shareholders and the way this team has been run for almost its entire existence as a community project. All professional sports teams should be owned and controlled in this fashion – not by some billionaire blowhard (Jerry Jones comes to mind for some reason) who could give a shit about the average fan once he or she has paid for the season tickets. The owner who won’t make sure the fans aren’t gouged at the concession stands and don’t have to sit in three hours of traffic to get home. The owner who plays commercials at 120 decibels at every possible opportunity. The “welfare queen” owner who sucks on the public tit and expects the taxpayers to make him richer just because he has deemed to grace their city with a professional football team – at least until there is greener turf somewhere else. So while Red always wishes good things for the Packers, he also has to be honest with his readers and tell them – not this season. A-Rodg carried them on his capable shoulders until going down last season. Is he back? If so, then maybe there is hope. Or maybe not. Green Bay is 8-8.
Detroit Lions – The last good thing Red remembers about the Lions is reading Bobby Layne’s autobiography – Always on Sunday – in elementary school. Red is not sure why his parents let him read about Bobby’s alcoholic womanizing, drunk driving, and non-stop partying but it sure opened Red’s eyes to the possibilities of life – or a certain kind of life anyway. Unfortunately, Red’s athletic career and exposure to the side benefits of sports celebrity was cut short by a crippling lack of talent and a desire to keep his teeth. Maybe Red was allowed to read this fascinating tome because Layne had been the hero at UT when Red’s parents were in school. And maybe the curse of Bobby Layne is still hanging over this franchise. Although possibly apocryphal, after he was traded to the Stealers in 1958, Layne supposedly responded to the trade by saying that “the Lions would not win for 50 years.” Bobby apparently called for an extension at some point. So while short on analysis here, Red has hopefully provided you some insight into the stupidity of this whole exercise. Detroit stinks – 4-12.