With the regular season just a week away, Grizzly Detail will be going through our predictions for each of the NFL’s eight divisions, as well as our picks for the Super Bowl and the various awards available after the campaign.
We’ll continue our preview today with our look at the NFC East, as the Chicago Bears will take on the Dallas Cowboys in a Thursday night showdown the week after Thanksgiving.
Philadelphia Eagles: 9-7
The Eagles are a team that could easily pull out a few more wins than we have them projected to get, but a big part of deciding their fate will be whether or not teams can adjust to their offensive tempo this season. Nick Foles is at the top of the list of question marks for the team, as he looks to prove that his stellar 2013 season wasn’t a fluke.
The running back situation in Philadelphia could result in some massive offensive output, as LeSean McCoy is joined in the backfield by Darren Sproles. Fantasy owners are lamenting the impact Sproles will have on McCoy’s reception totals, but the duo is going to provide a great passing option for Foles if he checks through Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper on routes.
Another question is whether or not the team can improve upon their abysmal performance in defending the pass last season. They finished dead last in the NFL in yards allowed through the air, and the onus for improving those numbers will fall upon cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams.
New York Giants: 7-9
The Giants are a team that struggled in a big way last season because of Eli Manning’s inability to take care of the football, and things are only going to get more challenging for him. He lost one of his primary receiving targets in the offseason as well, with Hakeem Nicks making his way to Indianapolis to join the Colts’ potent offense.
That departure means that the team will have to rely more on Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. in the passing game, but it also puts more pressure on the team’s running backs. David Wilson was forced to retire due to a recurring neck injury, but can Rashad Jennings and Peyton Hillis shoulder the load with him out?
The team’s offensive line is also a big question mark, with veteran David Diehl retiring, Kevin Boothe leaving for Oakland, and Chris Snee recovering from a second hip surgery in two years. The Giants did throw money at the problem, bringing in Geoff Schwartz and J.D. Walton, but can the new group gel in time to make noise in the regular season? Only time will tell.
Washington Redskins: 5-11
If there’s one team that has a ton of question marks heading into the season, it’s the Redskins. It all starts at their quarterback position, where Robert Griffin III still is looking to prove that his game is fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered in the 2013 postseason. Kirk Cousins is breathing down his neck if Griffin has any missteps, and that battle will be an intriguing one as the preseason ends.
The Redskins do have quite a bit of talent at the receiver slot this year, with DeSean Jackson joining Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts to make a solid trio of pass catchers. Roy Helu and Alfred Morris are also looking to have a great season running the ball, and that variety of looks should help the team immensely.
One big question about the Redskins is whether or not their secondary will be able to effectively stop the pass. DeAngelo Hall is a solid cornerback, but with Brandon Meriweather in constant trouble for illegal hits and Ryan Clark looking to prove he’s still got skill at the free safety spot, the team could be in for some lean times if those players don’t pan out.
Dallas Cowboys: 5-11
Yes, it may be a shock to see the Cowboys this low on the list, but they really are facing an uphill battle in the coming year. Tony Romo is still an underrated quarterback in the league, but with back issues derailing his season in 2013, question marks about his health remain.
The team’s other offensive players are all really solid, with wide receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten anchoring a good passing attack. Questions about DeMarco Murray’s health are also present, but if he can stay on the field, then the Dallas rushing attack should be one to fear.
Where the Cowboys lose the thread is on the defensive side of the ball. Sean Lee is out for the season already for Dallas, and Demarcus Ware is gone after signing with the Denver Broncos in the offseason. Orlando Scandrick will miss the first four games of the season thanks to a drug offense, and Jakar Hamilton will join him on the sidelines for the same reason.
With all of those losses, the Cowboys’ putrid defense from last season will likely be even worse this year, and things will not be happy in Jerry’s World when the season begins.