Saturday, August 30, 2014

NFL Preview Extravaganza 2014: NFC East

Photo courtesy of Hound Sports
This is definitely not the worst division in football, which I've been hearing a lot recently. There are two teams that definitely have a chance of making the playoffs, and two teams that could potentially be fine.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports
Philadelphia Eagles
2013 Record: 10-6
Yards Per Game: 417.2 (2nd in the NFL)
Points Per Game: 27.6 (4th in the NFL)
Yards Per Game Allowed: 394 (29th in the NFL)
Points Per Game Allowed: 23.9 (tied-17th in the NFL)

Chip Kelly's arrival in Philadelphia brought a great amount of offensive success, as the league could not catch up with him. Their run and gun offense was super successful, allowing them to overcome their defensive faults.

Coming into this season, they added Darren Sproles in a trade with the Saints, a move that I absolutely loved at the time, while getting back Jeremy Maclin from injury. They did however, lose DeSean Jackson by cutting him after a whirlwind of trade rumors was followed up by an accusation of gang ties before he was finally cut loose. Of course, the Eagles and Chip Kelly insist that the release was only for "football reasons," but I guess we'll never know the truth on this one. The bottom line is that Philly lost a very good wide receiver, leaving them with Maclin and Riley Cooper as the starting wideouts.

They also didn't do much to improve the defense, as signing Malcolm Jenkins to replace Patrick Chung was a lateral move.

Overall, I think that the defense is about the same as it was last year, as the very good pass rush struggles to make up for the deficiencies at the back end. Meanwhile, Nick Foles and the offense regresses just enough to where the Eagles will not be a playoff team in 2014. I love Chip Kelly and I think that his system may have created a new paradigm in the NFL, but with a full offseason of adjustments under their belt, the other 31 coaches will figure out ways to stop them.

In order for this team to make the postseason, the offense has to be just as good as last season, when they were probably the second best in the league. This year, I think they'll be more like the fourth or fifth best in the NFL, a difference that will cost them a shot in the playoffs.

Photo courtesy of CBS Sports
Dallas Cowboys
2013 Record: 8-8
Yards Per Game: 341.1 (16th in the NFL)
Points Per Game: 27.4 (5th in the NFL)
Yards Per Game Allowed: 415.3 (32nd in the NFL)
Points Per Game Allowed: 27 (26th in the NFL)


Points, points, points, and more points.

That's going to be the theme of the 2014 Dallas Cowboys. Between scoring and giving up points, the Cowboys have a chance to be involved in the highest scoring games that we've ever seen in the history of football.

The offense should be near the top in the league thanks to Tony Romo, DeMarco, Murray, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and a pretty good offensive line. Given that they will be generally healthy, which isn't a guarantee, especially for Murray and Romo, the Cowboys will be able to score a ton of points.

And boy, will they have to.

The 2013 Cowboys had one of the worst defenses of all-time.

So naturally, they decided to make it worse. DeMarcus Ware? Let's just cut him to save cap room. Okay, fine, he's getting older, so I guess that made sense. He's still very productive, even at his age, but as long as they used that new-found flexibility well, it would have been fine.

So, Jerry Jones decided to sign Rolando McClain, who was cut by the Raiders two years ago, and retired prior to last season. But fear not! They also signed Brandon Weeden to be their backup quarterback. Somehow, Weeden is only four years younger than Romo, which is an amazing discovery.

Sean Lee is now out for the season due to injury, taking away Dallas's best linebacker by far.

This defense is a total disaster, and could end up being the worst that we've ever seen. That, turmoil in the coaching staff, along with Jerry Jones being Jerry Jones is why I think that there is a lot of potential for the Cowboys to be the worst team in the league.

I'm predicting that their offense should keep them afloat, but if Dallas only wins two or three games this year, don't be shocked.

P.S. Credit Jerry Jones for running the team into the ground. Hopefully he finally ends his love affair with Jason Garrett soon, because he is not a very good coach. 

Photo courtesy of Rant Sports
New York Giants
2013 Record: 7-9
Yards Per Game: 307.5 (28th in the NFL)
Points Per Game: 18.4 (28th in the NFL)
Yards Per Game Allowed: 332.2 (8th in the NFL)
Points Per Game Allowed: 23.9 (tied-17th in the NFL)

Last season started off horribly for the Giants, before they somehow stormed back from an 0-6 start to becoming one of the most annoying teams in the history of the league. They just refused to die. This season, there will be more of the same in New York.

Yes, I'm a Jets fan, but I don't really have a problem with the Giants.  I just happen to think that they won't be very good this season.

There were a lot of moving parts during the offseason, and the guys that were brought in aren't going to change much from last year.

Eli Manning isn't going to be just as bad as he was last year, when he led the league in interceptions, and he got himself another weapon when the Giants picked up Odell Beckham, Jr. in the first round of the draft. Along with Victor Cruz, Manning will have two pretty good receivers to throw to.

Rashad Jennings is average, and Peyton Hillis will continue to be the biggest punchline in the history of Madden covers while being mediocre at best. The only hope for this running game is that rookie Andre Williams is able to develop into a decent player.

But he will not be helped much by this offensive line, which has been an issue in New York for quite a while now. The best signing they made this offseason was to bring in Geoff Schwartz from Kansas City to play guard. Now, there's a good chance that he will be out until Week 9 due to a toe injury. That probably costs them a win because he was the only high quality player on the line. Returning starters Will Beatty and Justin Pugh are...fine, at best. With Schwartz out, the prospect of James Brewer, J.D. Walton, and John Jerry starting alongside each other as interior lineman frightens me, and should also frighten Eli Manning.

The defensive numbers from last year look a lot better than they should, based on the talent on the roster.

I like this team's secondary, even though they will eventually regret giving Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie a five year contract, seeing as he has a long history of being an issue in the locker room, but for this year at least, he'll be good. Walter Thurmond was a low-risk signing from Seattle. He was great playing as part of the Legion of Boom, and while it remains to be seen how he'll fare without the help of his former Seahawk teammates.

Still, it won't be too difficult to pass on the G-Men because they have absolutely no pass rush. Jason Pierre-Paul was alright last season, but because he's the only edge rusher worth speaking of on this roster, it's safe to assume that opposing offenses will throw double teams at him if necessary and will not have to worry at all about anyone else. 

I like Robert Ayers on the end as a run defender, but the same goes for him, as teams can double team Ayers because the run defense is also lacking. The starting linebackers, Jacquian Williams, Jon Beason, and Jameel McClain inspire absolutely no confidence in me.

Even if Tom Coughlin pulls out his best coaching performance ever, this team probably can't win more than 9 games. I certainly think that the passing game will be good enough to keep them in pretty much every game they play, but their schedule is pretty tough.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports
Washington Professional Football Team
2013 Record: 3-13
Yards Per Game: 369.7 (9th in the NFL)
Points Per Game: 20.9 (23rd in the NFL)
Yards Per Game Allowed: 354.1 (18th in the NFL)
Points Per Game Allowed: 29.9 (tied-30th in the NFL)

After going through the season from hell last season, I expect to see a much improved Washington team in 2013.

They will get back a healthy Robert Griffin III, who was clearly still dealing with the lingering effects of a knee injury last year. They also added DeSean Jackson after he was senselessly cut loose by the Eagles.

The combination of RGIII, Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Alfred Morris, Jordan Reed, and Andre Roberts has the potential to be one of the most dynamic offenses in the league.

The defense will also be improved. They were very susceptible to big plays last year, which is why the acquisition of safety Ryan Clark was a great move. There are still some questions in the defensive backfield, but those concerns will be alleviated by the pass rush. Jason Hatcher had a career year in Dallas, and now comes over to a division rival, joining Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo on the edges.

There is no way that this team can be nearly as awful as it was last season. The defense improved, the offense added a very good piece in Jackson, and if they have a top five offense, which I think is the case, expect to see Washington win the NFC East.

Hopefully, they get it together and change their name soon, because typing Washington Professional Football Team every week is going to get tiring.

Final Standings
  1. Washington Professional Football Team 10-6
  2. Philadelphia Eagles 9-7
  3. Dallas Cowboys 6-10 (Win Division Record Tiebreaker over Giants.)
  4. New York Giants 6-10
Bold and Unnecessary Predictions That I'm Making Anyway
  • Nick Foles will throw 11 interceptions this season. He threw 2 picks over 10 starts last year, which translates to 3.2 interceptions over a 16 game season. I know that Chip Kelly's offense is all about efficiency, skewing those numbers, but there's no chance that happens again. 
  • The Cowboys defense will rank last in the league in points per game and yards per game allowed. Feast your eyes on what could be the worst defenses you will ever see. 
  • Tom Coughlin will be fired immediately following the season. I think that the honeymoon will finally end after the year. I don't think he's a bad coach, but we've seen many times in the past that after a few down years, teams feel that they need to make a change. 
  • Robert Griffin III will play 16 games. Why not? He's learning to protect himself more, so the combination of his new ability to slide when he runs along with staying in the pocket more often makes him more capable of playing a full season. 

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