WINNER: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (11-5)
If it weren’t for a lack luster Linebacking corps and Secondary, the Eagles would be Title contenders. Benefactors of an easy schedule, they will eke out the Division crown in a competitive race.
Having bolstered the Offensive Line in the draft with OT Andre Dillard (Wash. St.), and welcoming back WR DeSean Jackson via free agency, the Offense is ready to roll once again. Draft pick RB Miles Sanders is also making a great first impression in training camp, and is expected to share the backfield with newly acquired RB Jordan Howard (Bears). Their path to a Division title however all hinges on the rehabilitated left knee of QB Carson Wentz. Being that they don’t have a viable backup worth starting, Wentz must stay healthy. One perceived criticism of Wentz is his inability to know when to shift gears down emotionally. He’s a fiery competitor, but a true leader can keep the emotions in check at the biggest moments. It is this exact variable to Wentz’s makeup that led to his torn ACL.
Make no mistake though, this team is going to put up points in bunches this season. Even rookie WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (Stanford) is turning heads in camp. The Eagles easily have one of the NFL’s top Offense’s, which they will lean on to top the Giants and Cowboys. Once again, it’s their Defense (minus the D-Line), that will be their achilles heel come Playoff time.
NEW YORK GIANTS (10-6)
Not having star WR Golden Tate (Suspension) for the first 4 games will be a major hurdle, but the Giants are one of my surprise teams picked to turn things around this year.
So far in the Preseason, first round Draft pick QB Daniel Jones (Duke) has impressed. With a BeatVegas Draft grade of “A-“, this is what I expected. Granted, he has a long way to go, but anyone who criticized the pick must not have watched much Duke football this past year. Jones flat out competes, and has accuracy on the tough throws. The way the team has positioned things is actually pretty advantageous. Veteran QB Eli Manning should be extremely motivated to keep Jones on the bench, while he aims to have fond memories of his golden-years as a Quarterback. While they are weak on both sides of the ball upfront, they’re two receivers away from being a scary good team.
There’s no doubt that Odell Beckham Jr. brought immense talent to the WR unit, but the “G-Men” will be better off in the long run not having that personality in the locker room. Many things have changed in team sports during the 21st century, but being a good teammate will always be a component to success, especially in football. It has simply always been a part of the Wide Receiver position. Some guys are just prima-donnas. Just wait till we review the Raiders in the coming weeks. Former Giant great Tom Coughlin said it best, “”My contention is there is a higher ground. There is a greater purpose. And that purpose is team. … Championships are won by teams that love one another.” In other words, when you have players putting themselves first, the team suffers.
With a strong Linebacking corps, talented Secondary, great kicking game, a highly rated Head Coach Pat Shurmur, led by two-time Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning, and star RB Saquon Barkley, the 2019-20 New York Football Giants are not a team to be taken lightly.
DALLAS COWBOYS (9-7)
For the Cowboys, it will be a tale of two seasons. Early on, the schedule is easy, and they should jump out to a 6-1 record. Unfortunately for Big D, they will go 3-6 down the stretch and miss out on the Playoffs.
Even with RB Ezekiel Elliot (assuming he plays), the Cowboys are not as strong upfront as in years past. The O-Line was average at best last season, and they did little in the offseason to help improve things. Of course the return of center Travis Frederick will be a welcome return. Dallas will hope his Guillian-Barre syndrome doesn’t flare up, which is what caused him to miss out last year. One of the players with great reports out of camp who could use a healthy Frederick, is rookie RB Tony Pollard (Memphis). Another concern is the waning team chemistry that has been distracted and affected by all the offseason news reports of contract negotiations of star players RB Ezekiel Elliot (holding out), QB Dak Prescott, and WR Amari Cooper. Any success the team has this year is pinned on all of it finding a resolution by Week 1.
With a Defense that will keep the score low (look to the UNDER’s in Cowboys games), they’ll be in a lot of close one’s. I’ve got faith in QB Dak Prescott, and also new OC Kellen Moore (one of the sharpest minds in the game). The same can’t be said for head coach Jason Garrett, who has all but eroded any confidence I once had in him. Whether it’s owner Jerry Jones’ fault or not, the Cowboys should have had more Playoff success by now during Garrett’s tenure. A poor kicking game to top things off, and it’s “wait till next year” again for Cowboys fans.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (2-14)
The Dolphins are the league’s worst team, but the Redskins aren’t far behind.
For starters, the Quarterback situation is a complete mess. Their first round Draft pick QB Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), is so far living up to his “C+” BeatVegas Draft grade. He hasn’t had much help upfront from the dreadful O-Line, but he looks overwhelmed. Most worrisome though, was Haskins’ post game press conference. I know he’s only a rookie, but he appeared very defensive about his performance, claiming he had a good game when he didn’t. Behind Haskins, is the below-average QB Case Keenum, and similarly average and also injured QB Colt McCoy. It’s going to be extremely difficult to buy wins when your three QB options all rank in the bottom 5 Quarterbacks in the league.
To add to the misery for Washington, they have few weapons on Offense, a sub-par Defensive Line, overrated Secondary, and one of the worst Linebacking units. Adding insult to injury, All-Pro OT Trent Williams seems content holding out for a bigger contract and not playing for the ‘Skins this season. O, and still not a big fan of head coach Jay Gruden or the front office. Sell the team! It stinks to hog-heaven in DC.