Through the thick and thin, the trials and tribulations, we all made it to July. A limited number of sports leagues across the world have restarted play, without fans of course, and are chugging towards the end of their respective seasons. That includes my severe headache inducing football club, FC Barcelona, which if you follow me on Twitter, know that I’m close to slamming my head on the wall every time they step on the pitch.
Alright enough about my own personal struggles with sports right now, you’re here for NFL content right?
Training camp begins later this month, but the annual reminder that football is slowly making its way back, won’t be without some sort of change to it’s usual normality. For starters, no fans will be allowed at any of the practices during the summer, it’ll be the usual suspects(players, coaches, executives, medical staff, equipment staff, etc), and maybe some in house media that are directly tied to the team itself(official team media staff).
Of course, these sort of measures are all being taken due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, and these same measures don’t seem like they’ll be going away when the 2020 NFL seasons kicks off. It’s still too early to tell if fans will even be allowed at games this fall, but even if they are, there’s still going to be some sort of restriction set in place.
All in all, it’ll truly be a season unlike any other, but it’s still the game we love, so we’ll take it in any form we can.
So, with camp getting closer and closer, I thought I’d go ahead and give a little preview for each division across the league. A division winner, a sleeper team, even a prediction of how many teams I believe will slide into the playoffs from each division.
You’ll find the usual, and some different topics of discussion here.
Today, we’ll start with the always interesting NFC East.
Let’s get to it.
Best Offense: Dallas Cowboys
There’s no question whose offense is the best in the NFC East. Dak Prescott is a top 5 QB in this league, Ezekiel Elliott is an elite back that’s become the face of this offense, Amari Cooper leads an extremely talented WR group that includes an underrated player in Michael Gallup, and arguably the best WR from the 2020 NFL Draft in CeeDee Lamb.
Not to mention, this offensive line is still one of the best units in the league, even with the retirement of All-Pro, Travis Frederick
Honestly, it’s like a smorgasbord of offensive talent, everywhere you look, you can find a player ready to become a talking point around the league. The only spot in question on this offense is tight end, but I wouldn’t be too concerned with that area.
I can’t see this offense faltering with the current amount of skill present. Injuries are always a common outlier, but we always ride into the season having to throw away the fear of the injury bug. There’s also the Mike McCarthy factor, I can’t seem to shake away this nagging feeling of anxiety when I think about McCarthy leading this offense.
Maybe it’s my “end of McCarthy’s tenure in Green Bay” PTSD, who knows.
Best Defense: Dallas Cowboys
This one’s also a no brainer. The Cowboys’s defense possesses an incredible amount of talent in both the defensive line, and the linebacker group. DeMarcus Lawrence and newcomer Gerald McCoy, will both lead this nasty pass rush this upcoming year. Aldon Smith was finally reinstated earlier on in the off-season, and while he might not be the same player that put up 19.5 sacks in 2012, he’s still going to bring some sort of added depth as a pass rusher.
But the pass rush department isn’t even the most impressive part of this defense. The Cowboys have secured one of the deepest interior defensive line groups in the entire league. The group underwent an extreme makeover this off-season, signing veterans Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy, who I mentioned earlier. Neville Gallimore, a 3rd round selection in the 2020 draft, was also added to the group. Antwuan Woods is another depth defensive tackle that can make some noise in the trenches.
As someone who loves watching big boys dominate in the trenches, I’d say I’m going to enjoy watching this defensive line absolutely dominate once again this fall.
The linebackers on this defense don’t need any sort of extensive introduction. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch combine to make this linebacking core one of the best in the league, let alone the NFC.
The secondary lost Byron Jones, and it still needs a difference maker to call this defense 100% complete.
BUT, this defense is just fine riding an aggressive, proven front 7, and keeping their secondary from carrying too much of a burden.
Impact Rookie: Chase Young
I don’t think anyone expects the Redskins to sniff the scent of success this season, but what we can expect, is a highly drafted rookie pass rusher to turn a lot of heads. The hype with Chase Young was evident during his last year at Ohio State, and it only increased once we got closer to the NFL Draft.
Young is about as polished of a pass rusher as you can get as a rookie, and that should greatly increase his chances of making a lot of noise in his debut season. Jalen Reagor and CeeDee Lamb will both play pivotal roles in each of their respective teams’s offenses, but Young is on a team in which he has a green light to completely let loose.
Call me crazy, but I really believe in Young’s chances to put on a nice show this fall.
Sleeper Team: Philadelphia Eagles
This division is poor in quality, outside of Dallas and Philadelphia. Jotting down the Giants or Redskins as a sleeper team is laughable, so I’ll just make the Eagles my choice. The problem with that, is the term and the team associated with the term itself.
The Eagles’s roster isn’t poor in quality whatsoever, they just don’t have the same amount of key talent in crucial positions like Dallas does. That doesn’t mean they can’t go on and win the division though.
Carson Wentz isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, he has a respectable amount of speedy weapons on the outside, and the defense plugged one of its most important holes with the addition of Darius Slay. There’s a lot to like with this team, but I like the Cowboys a little bit more.
Biggest Disappointment: New York Giants
The Redskins are, well, bad. They’re already enough of a disappointment for non-football reasons, discussing their football related shortcomings will only cause my head to throb. So let’s switch gears to another team that’s still bad, but always bears the burden of unreasonable expectations each and every season.
I tend to believe this team has some intriguing young talent on both sides of the ball, but the squad consistently fails to meet even the reasonable amount of expectations that are placed upon them year after year. Daniel Jones is eh, Saqoun Barkley is always a treat to watch, and Darius Slayton played some pretty good football last season.
But, the defense is still a work in progress, and the new coaching staff has a giant sized target on their back just for Joe Judge’s hire alone.
I’m sure we’ll go through the season laughing at whatever baffling mistakes the Redskins make, but the Giants have some sort of expectation to improve at least, so I’ll put them down as the leading candidate to be the biggest disappointment.
How Many Teams Make The Playoffs: 2
Take this prediction with a grain of salt.
I’m expecting the Cowboys to make their return to playoff football, and the Eagles have a shot as well, but with the amount of competition within the highly competitive NFC, it isn’t easy to predict which teams will slide their way into the playoffs.
The Eagles’s SOS(Strength of Schedule) ranks 25th in the league, meaning they have the 25th toughest schedule in the league, or the 8th easiest schedule in the league. That should work to their advantage, it works to any contending team’s advantage, but the Eagles have a tendency to drop games they should have in the bag, so I’ll leave some room open for discussion on this.
Division Winner: Dallas Cowboys
I only see 3 things stopping the Cowboys from winning the NFC East this season.
- Mike McCarthy goes full blown pyscho
- The defense turns completely soft
I don’t see any of these 3 things happening, so I’m gonna stick with dem Cowboys. I can see it now, Jerry Jones finally meets regular season expectations for this beautiful team he’s assembled, and Skip Bayless turns himself into an internet meme darling for a few months.
Love it or hate it, playoff football for the Dallas Cowboys has an unbelievable amount of internet potential.
You can’t disagree with me on this one.
Featured Image via Tom Pennington/Getty Images