FOOTBALL IS BACK !! For the first time since February there is hope and light and something to discuss that isn’t world-ending. Hurrah for football!
We’ve had the draft, we’ve had the speculation and we’ve had our fill of covid-friendly, iso-bubble namby-pamby training camps. What we really want is bone-crunching, pass-catching, touchdown-scoring football. Tomorrow night the reigning champion Chiefs get the season underway against division rivals the Texans at Arrowhead as they look to be the first repeat champions since the ’04 and ’05 Patriots. The season is going to post many, many questions and dilemmas for staff and players alike in these strange times, but ultimately one thing remains true, the best team post-Christmas will claim the crown. So lets take a look through the teams by Conference and Division and weigh up their chances of reaching the tickertape glory land…
THE NFC EAST
3 Of these teams have new head coaches coming into the 2020 season, McCarthy at The Cowboys, Judge at The Giants and Rivera at the Washington Football team. 1 of these teams also has a new name…did you spot it. Fair enough trying to update your image but Christ on a bike please, please make a better fist of it than that. Pathetic. Contract issues for star players have hampered both the Cowboys and the Eagles recently, and the WFT definitely aren’t sold on last years 1st round draft pick Dwayne Haskins at QB. Could be a tight one, or, then again, not.
McCarthy replaces Jason Garrett (3 years too late) in Dallas and has promised to embrace a new way of coaching. Keeping Kellen Moore at O.C seems like a good place to start. The Offense is loaded with star-talent, Dak has thrived under Moore and last season managed 4902 yards passing and 30TDs, Zeke had 12 rushing TDs (2nd most in career) and Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup emerged as a great 1-2 WR combo. Add CeeDee Lamb to the mix at this train could be a match for Kansas City. The retirement of Travis Fredrick is a blow to the O-lIne but one which they may uniquely be equipped to cope with. I love the D on this team, the signing of Everson Griffin from The Vikings is huge and the return from suspension of Aldon Smith (last played in 2015) could be a master stroke IF he keeps his nose clean. Combine him with A full season from Van der Esch alongside Jaylon Smith and that would give this team the best LB trio in the NFL.
On paper this is a team able to compete with anyone in the NFL. Sadly theyre rarely able to field the best 11 on either side of the ball (week 1 no Jeffery, Sanders Goodwin and Hargrave…possibly Johnson absent too) and the Eagles are just too thin to cope for the long haul with that kind of attrition. Carson Wentz is a very good QB when he’s fit but im not convinced he elevates 2nd tier players in the absence of others. Don’t be surprised to see Jalen Hurts included in sub-packages to exploit his running ability. Ertz will play despite contract frustrations (pay the man) and retaining Jason Peters at Left Tackle is a HUGE coup. There is plenty to like on the defense, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham return again to lead the line, Darius Slay doesn’t get enough love at CB and Jalen Mills has flashed star-potential, but again its slim pickings behind the starters and injuries are guaranteed.
Projected record: 8-8
NEW YORK GIANTS
I like Danny Dimes. He fumbles too much and looks to scramble a little early, but so would you, me or ANY OTHER QB behind what continues to be a porous O-Line. 3000+ yards and 24 TDs as a rookie isn’t to be sniffed at, and the fact that you only ever hear positive things from camp about him really makes me think the Giants may have been right to select him so highly. Saquon is Saquon, you know what you’re getting, the addition of Dion Lewis may alleviate some pressure from Barkley though, in the passing game at least, allowing him to stay fresh. Shepard, Slayton and Tate don’t scare many teams downfield, but in short yardage and intermediate routes I think this team could excel. Throw in the never-quite-fit Engram and you could have a sneaky good offense. Shame the Defence is awful then…! I like Jabrill Peppers and Dexter Lawrence, and if Markus Golden can repeat his form from last season I like him too, but boy this secondary is rough and points should be easy to come by for the opposition.
Projected record: 6-10
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
Racial scandals, Sexism Scandals, ownership Scandals, its all happening in DC. Im a Rivera fan (did he really deserve to lose his job in Carolina?) and, given time, I think he’s the right man to turn this ship around, but not this season. Dwayne Haskins didn’t seem to have read the playbook last year, so, whether you want to like it or not he is under pressure from both Kyle Allen (Rivera’s no.2 QB in Carolina) and Alex Smith, who, despite that horrendous injury, is on the roster and says he wants to play. This team were cruising to the division title the last time he took a snap (bad pun) so maybe we will see him again. Outside Of Terry McLaurin there is nothing on offense for opposing teams to watch out for, unless Gibson hits the ground running (possible, but im not sure he can carry the team), its disappointing that Bryce Love isn’t higher up the depth chart. Offseason losses at RB (Peterson released and Guice released-for very different reasons) will hamper this teams progress. The Chase Young selection at DE was a no-brainer, he and Montez Sweat will need to produce week in and week out if this team is to compete. It’s a big job for Big Ron.
Projected record 3-13