There is no other division in the NFL in which the specter of injury looms so heavily over every team. Dallas has its brilliant but weary O-line protecting a fragile veteran QB, Philadelphia has built a winning crew that can sustain injury up to a point, the Giants are looking to rebound after two seasons of a seriously depleted squad, and Washington has brought a curse upon itself for not changing its unfortunate and offensive image.
Sweet crystal ball: murky and jumbled though your whispers may be, illuminate our way!
There was a brief period of time where I didn’t totally hate the Cowboys. I moved away from general knee-jerk disdain and grew to recognize their brilliant offensive line. I also realized that Tony Romo is a solid, likable, and hardworking quarterback, and even thought that Jerry Jones’s desperate ramblings became amusing, endearing even. Then along came Dez Bryant. The dude is by far my least favorite NFL superstar. He’s the epitome of a diva and I hate his whininess towards referees, as well as his frequent fights with coaches and teammates. I will never deny that he is a fantastic talent, but as a human personality, I’m just kind of grossed out by his ego and sense of entitlement. He is Calvin Johnson’s evil twin, no doubt about it.
So here we are in 2015 and I think that Jerry Jones knows in his wizened coal-black heart that last year was the ‘boys best chance at making a run for the title in a long time, and the best chance they’ll get for quite a while. Romo is good for another couple of seasons as long as he stays healthy, but that surgically repaired back is one hell of a sword of Damocles hanging over the entire organization. That previously mentioned O-line is the key to keeping things regular, but even they’re starting to show signs of wear and tear. Should they falter, this will prove very problematic for Darren McFadden.
The crystal ball says:
The crystal ball likes Dez much more than I do, predicting a stellar season for a big time receiver in his prime. Romo will hold down the fort, thanks to that crucial offensive line that will suffer only minor injuries, and remain more or less intact through the season. Darren McFadden will show promise at first and then eventually disappoint. Dallas has a shot at the wildcard spot but she’s still a leaky boat holding herself above the surface in a division that is returning to its highly competitive ways.
New York Giants:
I think it’s pretty easy to get hyperbolic over New York’s potential this season, but I’m afraid that’s more from what’s expected of them than actual evidence. Sure, Eli’s too good to keep playing so poorly, and it’s easy to write off the last two seasons because of the mass of injuries sustained by Big Blue, but that’s also the lazy approach. Like many, when it comes to analyzing the Giants, I want to have my cake and eat it too. Yes, I think a healthier team will win more games, but I’m still dubious that this is a club that’s going to sweep back into the division.
I’m not particularly concerned about the stories surrounding Eli Manning’s contract, but regardless of what he purportedly wants, the fans and coaching staff need to see his ratio of INT’s to TD’s drop precipitously. He’s certainly proved it can go either way. I also didn’t like how Jason Pierre-Paul dealt with his team following that unfortunate sparkler accident. It looks like he’ll be returning to the Giants, and will play before the first half of the season is out, but his cagey statements from the hospital and seeming lack of interest to meet with the team’s officials had me seriously doubting his return to New York, or anywhere. At least JPP can rest assured that he won’t go down in history as the NY Giant guilty of the stupidest unnecessary injury of all time…
The crystal ball says:
Eli will bring his pick numbers down to below Andy Dalton levels, which will be considered a victory. There will be lots and lots of speculation as to whether or not Tom Coughlin keeps his job. He will, while chomping angrily on his gum the whole time. Jason Pierre-Paul will come back. He’ll do fine. Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz will be frustrated with the heavy coverage they receive from defenses that aren’t particularly scared of the run game. The Giants improve, making them a viable threat, but not as much as expected. THEN things will get crazy with Eli’s contract!
It’s pretty obvious to me that the central cause of the Washington’s woes over the last few years have been due to a longstanding Native American curse brought on by owner Dan Snyder’s absolute refusal to change the franchise’s name and image in the face of good taste or common decency. RGIII is constantly nursing a bum knee or sitting concussed on the bench; relegated to selling sandwiches alongside a once obese pedophile. Now, Niles Paul and Junior Galette are out for the whole damn season. It doesn’t seem fair, and it shouldn’t be… Unless you remember that this team is named after a derogatory term coined during the genocide of an entire population. Feel free to write Dan Snyder a letter telling him how you feel.
Thanks to the curse, we’re left with an extremely weak offensive line supporting a glass-jawed QB. However, the defensive line is really interesting, and I think it’s the best thing the ‘skins have got going for them. There’s a good pass rush to be had there, and a good defense overall if the secondary can hold up. I don’t care if it’s Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy, but either of these dudes will fare better than Griffin.
The crystal ball says:
More deserved suffering for a team with a shamefully behind-the-times character. RGIII will continue to fail and the Redskins will focus more on a mediocre ground game because of it. Fans can expect some joy through the defense, and some excitement when either of the backup QBs start airing it out to DeSean Jackson, the most electric offensive weapon this team has.
Chip Kelly is the closest thing the NFL has to a mad scientist. He’s a singular coach in that his megalomaniacal vision for his club’s success is less predicated upon individual player performance and more so on the crazy scheme in his head. I mean that as a compliment. The Foles/Bradford trade wasn’t about Foles’ merits or deficiencies on the field; it was about Sam Bradford working better in Kelly’s vision.
So Bradford and Murray are going to be the experiment and the gamble. Both are players that fit with Chip Kelly’s Eagles (trademark registered), but both are also injury prone. Unlike other teams in the NFC East, Philadelphia has a deeper bench. Mark Sanchez works well in this offense and Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles can certainly help take some of the pressure off of Murray. All the meticulously planned and thought out offense in the world can’t cover a weak defense that ranked near the bottom of the league last season. If things looked as exciting for the Eagles on the other side of the ball then they would be a true Super Bowl contender.
The crystal ball says:
The ball likes the Eagles this year, and thinks they’re the frontrunner to win the division, thanks in part to a cushy schedule. The mad scientist has the offense that he wants and I think it’ll come through for him. The defense will improve incrementally but there’s going to be plenty of shootouts to keep Bradford’s throwing arm in shape. Finally, I’m proud of myself for having made it this far without making a single Tim Tebow joke.