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The defending Super Bowl champs definitely kept their foot on the gas pedal this offseason. Howie Roseman isn’t content with just one Lombardi trophy; he’s looking to build a dynasty, adding the likes of WR Mike Wallace, DE Michael Bennett and DT Haloti Ngata to replace DE Vinny Curry and WR Torrey Smith. QB Carson Wentz potentially returns under center after Nick Foles won the title and was named MVP last season after Wentz’s knee injury. Will it be the right move? Time will tell. The backfield lost RB LeGarrette Blount but they still have Jay Ajayi, who will be in line for a full season as the workhorse back. The underdog mentality is gone though, as the hunters are now the hunted. The Eagles definitely benefitted from a weak NFC East and a crucial Ezekiel Elliott suspension. The East has gotten better this year for sure. Couple that with having to play a 1st place schedule and I see the Eagles taking a step back this season. Losing Frank Reich will hurt too. But… I see Zach Ertz taking his game to another level this year, provided he stays healthy.
Two big time Cowboy legends have both left the facility for good this offseason in Dez Bryant (release) and Jason Witten (retire), however I think the Cowboys might be a better team without them. Dallas signed WR Allen Hurns to a two year deal. Hurns has the ability to put up Dez’s production from last year (838 yds 6 TD) for half the cost. Witten will be much harder to replace as the perennial safety blanket for Dak Prescott. The defense goes as Sean Lee goes, at least that’s what the stats show. In five games that Lee missed in 2017, the defense allowed 29.3 ppg. When he played that number was 20.5 ppg. The schedule is not kind to the Cowboys either with road games at Carolina, Seattle, Houston, Atlanta, Philly, and Indianapolis. The home schedule is much easier but they have to beat at least 4 of the aforementioned teams, on the road, to be in the hunt for the division crown. A full season of Ezekiel Elliott will propel the Cowboys to 10 or 11 wins in my mind, which should contend for the division.
This team has one glaring question that controls the success or demise of this franchise… Which Eli Manning will show up this season? The offensive weapons around him now (Beckham, Barkley, Engram) and the focus on upgrading the O-Line (Solder, Hernandez) should take a lot of pressure off of Eli to be “the man”. For the first time in a while, Manning will probably be asked to manage the game and let the playmakers and defense win for the G-Men. Saquon Barkley should cause nightmares for opposing defenses this year and Odell Beckham Jr. is in a contract year and is looking to prove he’s worth the $20 million per year he seeks. Opposite OBJ is Sterling Shepard who had some big games when Beckham missed time in 2017. The defense isn’t that great so hopefully the offense is able to bail them out. Look for overs on a lot of NYG games this year. The schedule is daunting for New York through the first eight weeks (vs Jacksonville, @ Dallas, @ Houston, vs New Orleans, @ Carolina, vs Philly, @ Atlanta, vs Washington). There’s a real possibility that this team could be 2-6 (or worse) heading into their bye week.
The Redskins were hurt in 2017. The Whole. Damn. Team. Enter 2018 and Kirk Cousins has bolted north. Enter Alex Smith who has shown that he can be productive and lead a franchise. As long as they stay healthy, this offense is really underrated. Smith has a crop of weapons similar to his KC squad. Derrius Guice should be solid in the backfield and the return of Chris Thompson gives the Skins a nice 1-2 punch. Paul Richardson was signed to be a deep threat and Jamison Crowder emerged last year to have a nice season. Josh Doctson has a chance to finally live up to potential and if Jordan Reed can stay healthy, he’s one of the best TE’s in the NFL. The defense, again if healthy, is a solid corps who should be able to keep Washington in the game most weeks. If the ball bounces the right way a few extra times this season, we could see Washington as a wildcard team. Jay Gruden is definitely on the hot seat this season.
The public loves the Eagles but I think there are too many distractions in Philly. Dallas will stand for the anthem and stand at the top of the division at the end of the season. Dak and Zeke will get this team back to the postseason. +260 is not the greatest value for a team that many believe has an abysmal WR crop, but I think Dak is quality enough to make this unit work for him, a la Tom Brady.