Dutton - I think we should begin with the NFC Division that matters most to the pair of us, and coincidentally the home of the reigning Super Bowl champions, the NFC East.
No team has retained the East crown since the Eagles won 4 straight, ending with the 2004 title. I do not see this trend coming to an end in 2012. The Giants have not added quality to their roster, and in fact have several gaping holes where studs have departed. There is also the issue of Eli being the hunted rather than the hunter, his previous season as a Champion was not a triumph, for him or his team.
Mainzey - That Eagles team must have won a couple of superbowls with that record. I know you hate him but he is the best manning know with the best team resume. The team with the most talent has the star and the stupid owner
Dutton - The "Dallas has the most talent" argument is a myth, based on the same foundations as the Tooth Fairy. They have a serviceable quarterback, a good (but ageing) tight end and one great pass rusher. That's it.
The Eagles changed tack in 2012, by focussing on players they already had rather than high profile free agents. Vick is going to enjoy his first off season as the Eagles starting QB, he has two good receivers on the outside, a serviceable slot receiver, a top tight end and, potentially, the most complete back in the NFL.
Mainzey - Are we saying Ware is past it???
Can't believe I am defending my arch enemy
But enough with these teams lets talk about the team of the future....
Dutton - Your "future" may remain much the same as your present, for the time being. Adding Robert Griffin III will make the Redskins a touch more dynamic, but the quality of help afforded to him is still not top tier. The Skins strength still lies in a more than adequate defence, with Kerrigan and Orakpo the studs.
Mainzey - We will win 7 I think. We were close in a lot of games I think RG3 helps us win a couple more
Dutton - I would say so. Big play offence, solid offensive line, great strength in depth on the defensive line. I would very surprised if the 2011 total of 8 wins was not surpassed.
Mainzey - So we both pick the Eagles which may make Jerry Jones blow up the team which makes me smile.
So NFC North. I think this could be the deepest. Chicago still can play D and now Jay has someone to throw to I think they are serious this year
Dutton - Ah the NFC North, the land of the lost cornerback....
To compete in this division, you need to sling the ball around. There are three top arm QBs, we don't know what Ponder is yet. Chicago do indeed have that stud receiver they have been seeking for so long, but my worries with the Bears is an abysmal offensive line and an ageing defence. Briggs and Urlacher are not getting younger. They will be better than last year, but I don't expect them to come out on top in this division.
Mainzey - Yeah age is a concern but it is for me and you too
If we are talking about slinging the ball about then we have to talk about the best 1-2 in the league Stafford to MEGATRON!! The issue is can they keep the team out of jail and off the operating table. If they can they are a fantasy owners dream, if they can't I think Schwartz may have questions to answers
Dutton - Stafford to Johnson may well be the Manning to Wayne of this generation. The Lions are loaded on offence, built to use their front seven to generate pressure on defence. Like most teams in this division, their secondary is suspect (I'm being polite.)
Possibly owning the worst secondary, we come to the Green Bay Packers. While Stafford has his go-to-guy in Megatron, who is Aaron Rodgers favourite receiver?
The Open One.
Mainzey - Packers need to get to the QB on defence. If they can I think they are the best team in the conference. I have 2 out of here me thinks Green Bay and Chicago
Dutton - Odd comment from someone who lives in the past...
Agreed. Packers to win, but I see a Wildcard for the Bears. Detroit will drop off from last season, but not disastrously so. I'm not even talking about the Vikings.
How about the NFC West, for so long a joke division but not any more?
Mainzey - Only when it comes to my sports teams...but Yeah the Vikings without AP could have a long season.
Dutton - This division is one of underrated (and talented) defences. San Francisco showed last year that they had a serious front seven. Seattle and Arizona showed flashes of improvement. The Rams have added talent to a talent starved roster, but don't expect them to climb away from the basement too far
Mainzey - The Seahawks are interesting to me. Will they progress or fall back a little? Not sure the offence can keep up with the defence especially with Lynch probably missing some games.
Dutton - So we have the 49ers winning this division then?
Mainzey - They were the best team in the division and I think they have gotten better so I can't see it being any other way
Dutton - Agreed.
Now the real head scratcher in the NFC, the South. For so long the preserve of the Saints, can they put Bountygate and the loss of their head coach behind them and retain their crown?
Mainzey - I suppose the answer to this is do they still have Drew Brees? As the answer is yes I think they still have 10 plus wins on them although they hopefully lose game 1 to RG3
Dutton - I think that's quite enough trips into fantasy land for you.
Yes, Brees is still the straw that stirs the drink in this team. I see the Bucs improving, though they could hardly regress, and I expect last years RG3 (Cam Newton) to continue to show signs of class. For me, I see Atlanta falling away. Not a Matty Ryan believer.
Mainzey - I like the signings by Tampa just not sure they have overtaken New Orleans. If I am honest give me Cam and the original Steve Smith
Dutton - Yep, can't argue.
So we have Eagles, Packers, 49ers and Saints topping their divisions. I have wildcards for the Bears and...New York Giants.
Mainzey - I am with you on the Bears and I think I will throw a curve and go for..... Carolina Panthers
Dutton - You on board the Cam Newton train I see?
Great discussion Paul. We must do this again soon, as we discuss the ugly sister that is the AFC.
Mainzey - There is always one team who sneak up on us and I just have a feeling Cam can do it.
Yeah join us soon for the AFC version!!