NFL Field

Fun With Projected NFL Win Totals

I am a football nerd and proud of it. With the NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, another favorite offseason event of mine took place earlier this week. Las Vegas released their projected regular season win totals for all 32 NFL teams. Here are my three favorite over/under bets for 2017.

Cowboys (Under 9.5 wins)

Unless you are an all-time great, this league has a way of humbling players whose careers get off to a hot start. Dak Prescott could be the latest example of that.

If he takes just a half step back from his 2016 season that saw him toss 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions, the effect will be dramatic.

In addition to their own division where all three opponents are at least reasonably capable, Dallas squares off with the western divisions in each conference, along with the Falcons and Packers. That is a really tough schedule for any team.

Dallas will still be very competitive, but that defense is not scaring anyone. The addition of Brandon Marshall makes the Giants the most complete team in the NFC East, and they already beat Dallas twice last year.

Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will have to be superhuman again for this team to be close to where they were last year. That is a tough thing to bank on.

Browns (Over 4 wins)

This one is a bit dicey given the quarterback situation. None of Cleveland’s options are particularly appealing in the short term.

Even so, accumulating talent is the name of the game in the NFL. They’ve added linebacker Jamie Collins and three freakishly talented first-round draft picks that actually made sense. Add that to franchise mainstay Joe Thomas and this roster is already much better than last year’s 1-15 squad.

Cleveland Browns

Photo: dawgpounddaily,com

Several of Cleveland’s losses last year were relatively close. They’ve improved via the draft and free agency. They also have a schedule that includes the likes of Jacksonville, Minnesota, the Jets and division rival Cincinnati twice. Four wins does not seem like much to ask.

Bucs (Over 8 Wins)

In each of the last two seasons, an NFC South team has risen from relative obscurity to reach the Super Bowl. If you are a fan of odd trends, here are a few reasons why Tampa Bay could follow their division rivals.

The thought of Jameis Winston throwing to Mike Evans along with new additions O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson is enough to make any defender lose sleep. Winston gets better with every snap. The organization surrounding him with this kind of talent will only expedite that process.

Jameis Winston

Photo: cbssports.com

Most of the same faces are on the young defense that is far from perfect. They did have a few shining moments last year, including holding Seattle and the Saints to under 15 points.

The Super Bowl might be a reach in the minds of some, but eight wins feels like stealing.

 

Featured Image by flannerysdublin.com

 

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NFC East Preview: Can Dak Lead America’s Team?

Injuries can really shake up the NFL and that happened in the NFC East when Tony Romo went down with yet another injury. The NFC East has been one of the most competitive divisions over the past 16 seasons. The Eagles have won it the most, seven times, followed by the Giants with four, the Cowboys have won it three times and lastly the Redskins have won it just twice. The Redskins are the defending NFC East champions, but they won the division with a lousy 9-7 record. This division is pretty open and I think three teams have a legit shot to win it. Will the Redskins repeat as division champs? Will Eli lead the Giants to the top? Or will Dak Prescott lead America’s team to the crown?

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NFC East Preview

If I could describe the NFC East in one word that word would be: Entertaining.

Every year since 2004 there has been no repeat champion of the division, but this division still brings the entertainment. Every team in this division has the chance to the best or the worst. Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, or the ‘Skins, who will win the division?

Courtesy of Bleacher Report

Courtesy of Bleacher Report

#4 Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles are in their first year with new head coach Doug Pederson. This will probably be a rebuilding year for the Eagles. They return many of the same starters and core guys from last season. But the bad thing is that 2015 team only went 7-9. So the Eagles and their fans are hoping that a new voice in the locker room could turn that 7-9 into a 9-7, which definitely could win this division. But I don’t think the Eagles are going to have that kind of season. A 5-11 or 6-10 record is more likely to be the outcome of their season.

First, if you look at the schedule of games they have to play there aren’t too many teams you can see them beating. They play the whole AFC North and the only team I think they can beat is Cleveland. They are lucky they are playing Cleveland during wide receiver Josh Gordon’s four-game suspension.

Second, their roster is not that talented. Out of the four starting quarterbacks in the NFC East, they have the worst. Out of the four wide receiving groups I would say they have the worst. Every team in the division has a highlight type of receiver. Odell Beckham Jr. from the Giants, Dez Bryant from the Cowboys, and DeSean Jackson from the ‘Skins. Where is Philadelphia highlight receivers? One is in Kansas City and the other is in D.C. playing for a rival. Their defense will be decent against the run with anchor Fletcher Cox at the defensive end position, DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks at the middle linebacker positions. But against the pass is where my concerns come in. Look at the best wide receiver on each team (just listed above) and then think about the best cornerback on the Eagles. It is a mismatch every time for the Eagles.

The Cold Hard Reality for Every NFC Team

You have heard my two cents take on every AFC Team, now, I tackle the NFC. I will follow the same format. Eight words or less followed by a brief explanation in more detail.

NFC East:

Redskins- Peaked last year

The Redskins won the division last year with a marginal run game and defense, combined with the safest passing offense I have ever seen. Almost 46% of Kirk Cousin’s passing yardage from last year was gained by receivers running after the catch. In other words, he cannot throw the ball downfield. Now that there is a full season of film on Cousins, that success will be tough to duplicate. I am not convinced they can win any other way

Giants- Must learn to finish games

NFC East teams

photo from profootballfocus.com

They still have the talent to play with anybody, particularly on offense, but can the defense hold onto the late leads Eli Manning and crew give them? They failed miserably at this task last year. I cannot trust them.

Cowboys- Praying Romo stays healthy

Anyone who thinks Tony Romo is not a top flight quarterback after seeing what the Cowboys did without him last year needs to have their head examined. If Romo is healthy, I think they are the best team in the NFC. Romo also takes pressure off the defense because they do not have to be on the field as much. I really like Dallas in 2016.

Eagles- With the first pick in the 2017 draft…

The words I chose here are actually somewhat misleading. Philadelphia does not have a 2017 first round pick. That was one of the five draft picks they traded to Cleveland to go up and get quarterback Carson Wentz. It appears Wentz will be the third team quarterback and therefore inactive for most games in 2016. That is right. They gave up five draft picks for a guy who is going to mostly sit on the bench this year. It is going to be a long year for the Eagles.

NFC North:

Packers- Still good, but window starting to close

NFC East teams

photo from cbssports.com

Aaron Rodgers is very good, but he has only taken this franchise on one great championship run. I am not sure why he seems to be immune to criticism from media and fans. The Packers will probably still reach the playoffs, but I have serious questions as to if they can go further.

Vikings- Bridgewater is not the guy

I am still stunned this team made the playoffs last year. They were 31st in passing offense and have/had no consistent receiving threat to speak of. Thankfully, head coach Mike Zimmer, Adrian Peterson, and the defense is amazing. With Peterson another year older, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has to step up. His lack of arm strength was exposed in their playoff loss to Seattle. That was all I needed to see. He just has not progressed since his rookie year. Although I love rookie wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, this team has gone as far as Bridgewater is going to take it and they will not get there again.

Bears- Will surprise people this year

The offense is pretty good. Jay Cutler really cut down on the mistakes last year. The signings of Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman will immediately stabilize the defense. I think they are a surprise playoff team.

Lions- No Megatron, no chance

Newly retired wide receiver Calvin Johnson was the only premier player they had. Unless quarterback Matt Stafford plays a lot smarter, it is hard to see them getting to .500.

NFC South:

Panthers- Tough act to follow

NFC East teams

photo from foxsports.com

A 17-2 record last year was quite surprising. However, one of those losses was the Super Bowl. Defensive coaches have spent all offseason trying to figure out how to stop quarterback Cam Newton. Coaches in this league always figure it out. They will still win the division, but the only way to go may be down.

Saints- Window closed

As good as Drew Brees is, he cannot carry this franchise forever. There simply was not enough player movement in the off season on what was statically one of the worst defenses ever last year. The glory days off about a half a decade ago are long gone in New Orleans.

Falcons- Matt Ryan consistency is key

There is some good young talent on defense here. They are led by 2015 first round draft pick Vic Beasley. Ultimately though, it is the play of quarterback Matt Ryan that will determine if this team is closer to the one that started 2015 5-0 or the one that finished it 3-8.

Buccaneers- Slowly building something special

The playoffs may still be a year away, but I really like where quarterback Jameis Winston is taking this franchise. Running back Doug Martin allows this team to run and throw effectively. The only question for me is the defense.

NFC West:

Cardinals- Well coached, but running out of time

They were so good last year. Head coach Bruce Arians continues to push all the right buttons, but quarterback Carson Palmer is 36 and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will be 33 when the season starts. They are among many ageing key pieces. In Arizona, it is now or never.

Seahawks- Still loaded and dangerous

NFC East teams

photo from profootballfocus.com

There is no obvious weakness on this football team. They may lack just a touch of explosiveness on offense. The very talented Thomas Rawls takes over in the backfield. Other than that, the main cast of characters is the same.

Rams- New home, same lack of talent

It is exciting to have football back in Los Angeles, I am not old enough to remember it. Jeff Fisher will get the most out of what he has to work with. Unfortunately, he does not have much outside of running back Todd Gurley. It is hard to accept much from a team that is likely going with a rookie quarterback. Guys like Andrew Luck are the exception, not the rule.

49ers- Mad scientist at work

The mad scientist is of course head coach Chip Kelly. His odd personnel decisions did not pan out in Philly. He has no control over personnel in San Francisco, but significantly less talent to work worth. I have no idea what this team will look or play like and won’t until I actually see them play.