As for the rest of the NFC North division, watch out for the Vikings and Lions. Minnesota should be a much more balanced team in 2005 and they will play some defense. While on paper Minnesota should be the cream of the crop, something tells me the Detroit Lions will sneak up on some people this season. The defense should be improved and the offense has some solid weapons at receiver and in the backfield. The question will be how long head coach Steve Mariucci stays with Joey Harrington under center, especially with Jeff Garcia already chomping at the bit in this familiar offense.
Now that the third selection in the draft, wide receiver Braylon Edwards, has agreed to a five-year deal with the Browns, the Miami Dolphins should expect to get running back Ronnie Brown, the second selection in the draft to agree to a deal in the next few days. There is absolutely no doubt, the rather inexperienced representatives for Brown wanted the Browns and Edwards to come to an agreement to ensure the rookie from Auburn would walk away with a reasonable deal, all which saves face for the rep and team.
In Oakland, the Raiders are going to score a lot of points with the talented trio of Randy Moss and Jerry Porter at wide receiver and LaMont Jordan in the backfield, but can the Raiders play enough defense to keep the team on the positive side of the .500 mark. Here's saying the Raiders will surprise in 2005. If this team is going to depend once again on a worn-down Warren Sapp to provide leadership and a pass rush, then the Raiders are in for another long season.
Word around the league is the Arizona Cardinals will be a team to deal with in the 2005 season. While many league insiders think the 2006 season will be the arrival of the Cardinals under head coach Dennis Green, and there are those which attribute the explosive nature on the offensive side of the ball as being too good to keep down. All I see when looking at the Cardinals is a veteran at the quarterback position (Kurt Warner) which has not been healthy or played well for an extended period of time in some time. Also, who is going to emerge as the starting running back? J.J. Arrington has shown promise, but his size and strength are questionable in regards to holding up to the physical rigors of the NFL season. Marcel Shipp is talented, but oft-injured, and Troy Hambrick hasn't been the most dependable player, on or off the field.