Football is one of, if not the, most team oriented sports on God's green earth. Individual talent is a must, but if there is no teamwork to go with it, all the individual talent in the world is as useless as a salad bar at Bernie's house (wow, that was low.....Lord, I apologize for that and be with all the starving pygmies in New Guinea, amen).
The obvious example being Terrell Owens. He brings a ton of individual talent to whatever team he's on, but it rarely translates into a successful unit.....the jury will be out on Dallas for a while.
So with that in mind, I want to take a look at the best representatives of team units we will face this year. And as week 1 is over, Denver will not be considered, so here goes:
Best backfield (QB, RB): It's neck and neck between Seattle and San Diego (yes, Rivers will be that good), but in the end I have to give it to our rivals in the Northwest. The trio of Hasselbeck, Alexander and Mack Strong is the best we're going to see this year. These three are into their 7th season together and it shows. The Hawks are the top scoring O from last year and in no small part because of the talent in the backfield.
Best receivers (WR, TE): The most talented receiver corp would have to be Oakland....but this isn't about individual talent (see above). And there are several teams that could make an argument for this spot, including Carolina, Washington, Seattle, and Kansas City. However, at the risk of sounding like a suck-up intern trying to get a full-time job at ESPN, I have to give this nod to Arizona. Everyone knows Fitzgerald and Boldin, but the Cards have a solid 3 & 4 pairing in Johnson and Walters. As well, Bergen is at least a servicable catch threat at TE, and how can you not love a soft-handed, 6'8, 270 lb. Leonard Pope.....he can't block, but he sure can catch. If nothing else, Warner has a fine basketball team to lob to (6'2" Boldin, 6'3" Fitzgerald, 6'4" Bergen, 6'8" Pope, 6'3" Johnson)
Best O Line: I was very close to making an upset pick on this one by going with the Lions. Folks, keep an eye on that line, which I believe to be one of the most underrated lines in the game. Left to right they are pretty solid, except for RT, which keeps them out of the top spot on our schedule. That honor goes back to our friends in Seattle. Yes, they will miss Hutch more than they want to admit, but losing him to the Vikes (another solid line IMO) is not a deal breaker. Pork Chop is not Hutch, but he is serviceable. And while Tobeck and Gray are both long in the tooth, their age doesn't show through nearly as vivid as another C/RG pair I know. Jones is still the best in the league and Locklear is a name for the future.
Best D Line: We're going to see some good D lines this year, be they 3-4 (San Fran, San Diego) or 4-3 (Seattle, Chicago, Minny). However, there's not another elite D line on anybody's schedule like we'll see vs. Carolina. IMO, the Panthers have the best D-line assembled since the 2000 Ravens and the 2002 Bucs. Not only are they one of the biggest lines in the game (Peppers 285, Keomautua 350, Jenkins 335, Rucker 275), they have the talent to match. Peppers (DE), Keomautua (NT) and Jenkins (UT) may be the best in the world at their position; and Rucker (DE) may well be in the top 5. If Bulger makes it through this game on his feet, I'll call it a good day.
Best Linebackers: As with the D lines, we're going to see some exceptional LB corps this year. Fortunately, we've already passed a good one in Denver. In fact, I'm not sure I can pick just one, so I'm going to split this award into two separate categories: 3-4 and 4-3. With that derivation in place, here's my picks. The 3-4 has to go to the Chargers. Shawne Merriman alone makes this unit dangerous enough, but with veterans Randall Godfrey and Donnie Edwards in the middle, they are an elite unit. Add to that the improving Shaun Phillips, Matt Wilhelm, Stephen Cooper, and rookie Tim Dobbins, this unit is as deep as it is lethal. The 4-3 portion is harder to decide. Washington, KC, and Seattle all should receive recognition, but in the end I gotta go with Chicago. I mean it wouldn't be da Bears without solid LB play. Hillenmeyer, Urlacher, and Briggs are among the best in the business, but with pictures of guys like Singletary and Butkus hanging around the lockerroom, they better be one of the best.
Best Secondary: I'm probably getting redundant (as one poster has already pointed out this week, though I still love him), but it's hard to pick just one secondary on our schedule as the best. It's probably a good idea for Linehan to keep Bulger conservative, because MB will be staring into the eyes of a lot of playmaking corners and safeties this year. Facing Washington, San Diego, and Kansas City once each, and Seattle and Arizona twice will make for nearly half a schedule of daunting opposition running around with Holt, Bruce, Curtis and Klop. But IMO, the best we'll face is again found in Carolina. With Gamble, Lucas, Minter and Williams, the Panthers bring the best combination of hard hitting run support, and solid coverage. That entire Panther D is fierce and the secondary more than holds up their end of the bargain.
Best ST: I'll make this one short. For specialists (K/P), I like the Raiders with Janikowski and Lechler, though the Seahawks Brown and Plackmeier are noteworthy. For the return game, it's hard to knock on the Chiefs with Dante Hall running around out there.
So to re-cap:
Backfield - Seattle
Receivers - Arizona
O-line - Seattle
D-line - Carolina
LB (3-4) - San Diego
LB (4-3) - Chicago
Secondary - Carolina
Specialists - Oakland
Return game - Kansas City
Backfield - San Diego
Receivers - Seattle
O-line - Detroit
D-line - San Diego
LB (3-4) - San Fran
LB (4-3) - Seattle
Secondary - Arizona
Specialists - Seattle
Return game - Detroit
Re: The Unit
I'm hoping SF at 2nd (3-4) is because we don't play any other 3-4s ?
Re: The Unit
That is correct. SF and SD are the only 3-4 teams on the schedule. However, I do a lot of respect for the SF LB corp. Smith and Ulbrich are both solid in the middle, Lawson has a ton of potential and looked good last week. And if Brandon Moore can repeat his performance from last year, the LBs will be the most respectable part of that D.
Originally Posted by laram0