Following the final preseason game at Nashville I will compile my Final 53 for the Minnesota Vikings in this spot and on the flight home. I am prideful in nailing all 53 and was disappointed last year when I went 49-for-53. The year before I nailed 52 of the Final 53 guys, and this year I am in search of perfection.
As of now and into the third preseason game I look at the position number count like this:
Specialists - three.
OL - eight (for a total of 11).
RB - four (15, and this includes FELTON).
TE - three (18)
WR - five (might change it to six but for now 23).
QB - three (PONDER stays on the team, 26).
The reasoning behind more defensive players than offensive is strictly due to special-teams play, and I am keeping more DBs than usual because some of our best ST guys play DB.
DL - nine (35)
LB - seven (42)
DB - 11 (53).
I might be one heavy in the DL department but feel secure with my count for LB and DB. I could add an extra to OL but would have to pull from DL, which means as of now veteran DT TOM JOHNSON would be out.
With the DBs the thing with which I am struggling is new guy CHRIS CROCKER does not play special teams. He, though, is a ZIMMER guy and knows the defense very well. He's right at the end of his career, and I hope he plays well Saturday night at KC.
SANFORD and SENDEJO both have been hurt, which doesn't help their causes, but also are two of the best four guys we have on ST. I have predicted all offseason ROBERT BLANTON starts at FS, and given he'll play at KC if he stays healthy he gets that spot into St. Louis. With that said, though, I cannot see him playing as much on ST due to injury risk and fatigue, and he's one of the best three guys we have on ST.
We'll continue to talk this out tomorrow at the State Fair.
... 2014 PLAYOFFS: There will be at least three teams who made the playoffs last year who are not going back this season. San Francisco's preseason has been nothing about which to brag but I still feel it makes it back to the postseason. Seattle will win that division and at least 12 games after going undefeated at home.
I have mentioned I feel Philly takes a step back this year given DCs have had all offseason to plan for CHIP KELLY'S offensive tricks. The Eagles were exposed to a certain extent late last year, and I do envision a regression to the offensive mean for the team this year. But after closely watching NFC East teams this preseason I can't see the Eagles losing that division.
I don't trust the Redskins, am fearful the NYG offense might sputter and the Cowboys look like a 6-and-10 or 7-and-9 production. So, the teams at this stage I am predicting miss the postseason this season after making it last year are:
Kansas City -- The Chiefs have serious problems on the offensive line, and I am wary of the secondary. Plus, the team begins with a home game against Tennessee, then is at Denver and Miami, at home for New England and at San Fran. into the BYE. After the off week the team will lose at San Diego. I am putting the Chiefs on a 1-and-5 start, which means no playoffs for that rabid fan base.
Cincinnati - The team lost both coordinators (GRUDEN and Zimmer) and I think may finish 1-and-7 on the road. I think the Bengals lose at Baltimore, New England, Indy and Pittsburgh and have three in a row on the road starting November 16 that starts in New Orleans. The Bengals will be bounced from the playoffs this year.
Carolina - This feels like an 8-and-8 team to me, which may be good enough to sneak in. I adore rookie WR KELVIN BENJAMIN but worry about the team moving the ball. I love the defense and that may be enough to get to 10 wins, but I have the Panthers going 2-and-6 on the road, and that includes losses at Baltimore (versus former Carolina WR STEVE SMITH) and at Minnesota.