Tyler Julson: NFL preseason schedule too much risk; should be cut in half

Published 9:33 pm Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Notes from the Sports Desk by Tyler Julson


Another week gone, another week closer to football season. By the time this column comes out, it will be the first official week of the preseason, but the four weeks of preseason are among the slowest of the year. It’s like the four days between selection Sunday and the start of the NCAA Tournament, but instead of a few days, it’s an entire month.

Email newsletter signup

Some people I know put so much into the preseason results, while I see it as four glorified scrimmages and a chance that a star player gets hurt for absolutely nothing. Cutting the preseason to two weeks would be the best solution.

The PGA Championship, golf’s final major of the year, starts Thursday with plenty of storylines to keep golf fans invested.

Of course, the story I’m most interested in is Tiger Woods’ return to elite play. Even though he struggled in the final two rounds at the Bridgestone Invitational, I think/hope he’ll be around the top of the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.

Another big story to watch for is Jordan Spieth trying to complete his career grand slam by winning the title. Spieth won the Masters and the U.S. Open in 2015 and the British Open in 2017. Last year, in his first attempt at the grand slam, he was never really in contention. I expect him to come out hungry and also be at or near the top of the leaderboard Sunday afternoon.

The odds-on favorite to win as of writing this is Dustin Johnson at +800, but my money is on Spieth at +2,000.

I’ll be out on the course myself playing in a tournament Saturday. The annual Worth Mutual/Northwood Volunteer Fire Tournament at Northwood Country Club is one of my favorite tournaments of the year. I’ve golfed in it for many years now, and just like Spieth, my team is going to come out hungry looking for victory after a narrow defeat last year.

For this week’s season prediction, I decided to go with the NFC West, home to my favorite player in the league not named Patrick Mahomes — Marcus Peters.

In my mind, Peters is one of the premier corners in the NFL and the Rams pretty much robbed the Chiefs blind to get him. Sure, maybe he would have left after a couple more years anyway, but he’s way too good of a talent to give up for what they got, but I digress — back to the predictions.

The Rams did almost everything right this offseason. Aside from the Aaron Donald holdout going on right now, they are smooth sailing into the regular season. Defensively, the Rams signed Ndamukong Suh, Peters and Aqib Talib. Is anyone going to score on them this year? Probably, but it’s not going to be very much.

Then offensively, they’ve got Jared Goff, who came into his own under head coach Sean McVay last season; one of the best backs in the NFL in Todd Gurley and they just signed Brandin Cooks at the No. 1 wideout. The Rams are winning this division and are my early pick to win the Super Bowl.

Then there’s the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo has never lost a game as a starting quarterback. Granted, that’s only seven games, but still, he has spent many years learning from the best to ever play the game in Tom Brady. Vikings fans might hate me for it, but I’m not sold on running back Jerick McKinnon, especially as a starter. With just Richard Sherman in the defensive secondary, I don’t think they’ll have enough play makers to be anything special.

The Seahawks have really fallen off the deep end in recent years. I love Russell Wilson at quarterback, but with their less-than-stellar offensive line, I think he’s going to be running for his life a lot. A very shaky running back group also makes me a little nervous.

Finally, there’s the Cardinals. The Cardinals are a team I really want to like. Larry Fitzgerald is an all-time great, but he’s getting old. I lived in Cedar Falls at the same time David Johnson was playing at the University of Northern Iowa and it’s crazy to see that he has become one of the best backs in the NFL, but the running game can’t carry the load — especially in the quarterback-driven NFL. I hope, for the Cardinals’ sake, that Josh Rosen will develop into the player they want him to be, but I’m not getting my hopes up.


NFC West final predictions

1. Rams 13-3 (No. 1 seed in NFC)

2. 49ers 11-5 (No. 6 seed in NFC as wildcard)

3. Seahawks 9-7

4. Cardinals 3-13


Tyler Julson is the Tribune sports reporter. Contact him at tyler.julson@albertleatribune.com.

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

email author More by Tyler