NFC East Over/Unders: Assembly the Washington Commanders

NFL Preseason Week 1 – Bryan: Welcome again to our preseason run by the league’s over/unders! We schedule these to coincide with nationally televised preseason video games, as a handy hook for followers. However there aren’t any nationally televised video games this week, so we will as an alternative flip to a division that’s commonly starved for any kind of nationwide consideration, that being the NFC East.

Cale: Whereas it nonetheless dominates our nationwide media schedules, it feels prefer it has been fairly a while because the days the place the NFC East was the division to beat in all of soccer. Now, each group within the division has some main query marks, none of them actually flirting with the nationwide NFC dialog dominated by the Packers, Buccaneers, and a lot of the NFC West.

Bryan: On the identical time, I feel the ceiling is increased for the groups on this division than the general public typically accepts. For all the Cowboys’ postseason failures, they’re nonetheless an everyday fixture on the prime of our tables and had been final 12 months’s DVOA champs. Our projections love the Eagles, maybe unreasonably so. Washington simply received a shiny new quarterback and is poised to place up one of the best season ever in Commanders historical past.

After which the Giants, too, will probably be taking part in some soccer. At the least, that is what I’m advised.

Dallas Cowboys (10)

Bryan: Is it untimely to leap the gun and simply ask which spherical of the playoffs the Cowboys will probably be eradicated on this 12 months? As a result of they’ve a lot of the items you’d count on from a contending group, however I discover I’ve completely no religion in these items working collectively come January.

Cale: Actually, my lack of religion on this Cowboys group begins with final January. The loss to the 49ers was tough, primarily as a result of they could not get issues rolling offensively. Tony Pollard received no traction on the bottom, nor did Ezekiel Elliott. CeeDee Lamb received only one catch on 5 targets as Dak Prescott was pummeled by the San Francisco move rush.

Now? That offense could be in a worse spot than they had been final 12 months. Zeke and Pollard each have one other 12 months of tread on them, and whereas I count on Prescott to return to kind, he’ll have his work reduce out for him. Between offseason departures and preseason accidents, Lamb is mainly the final high-quality receiver left on the offense.

Bryan: And let’s pause for a second to snicker on the Cowboys giving up Amari Cooper for a fifth-round decide simply earlier than the most important offseason bonanza for vast receivers in NFL historical past. Misreading the market is one factor, however paying Cooper $20 million a 12 months seems to be a bit extra cheap now than it did final offseason. Whoops!

Cale: Just a bit greater than the Patriots received again for N’Keal Harry. Yikes.

Bryan: Between that and shedding Randy Gregory over bizarre contract language, the Cowboys did not precisely cowl themselves with glory this offseason. It was form of the contractual equal of, say, operating a draw play with no timeouts remaining within the remaining seconds of a playoff sport, simply to select an instance of a poor choice totally at random.

Cale: And the protection they’re left with, whereas sprinkled with big-name starters, goes to be critically impacted by lacking guys reminiscent of Gregory. Including Anthony Barr actually helps with a few of that, however I’ve a bit little bit of concern about simply how a lot Dallas will depend on Micah Parsons to hold the load. An elite expertise? Clearly. I feel Parsons has already solidified himself as among the finest younger linebackers in soccer, effectively on his method to dropping that “younger” tag as a qualifier. However he has gotten reps because the Mike, an off-ball linebacker, and now Dan Quinn has talked about working him in additional as an edge rusher. Positional versatility is one factor, however what number of hats is Parsons going to must put on this 12 months simply to maintain this entrance seven afloat?

Bryan: Fortuitously, a lot of the hats match Parsons, despite the fact that I feel he seems to be most dapper as an edge rusher. I suppose the query is whether or not it is a difficulty of Parsons attempting to fill a number of holes or Quinn acknowledging that he has a unicorn of a expertise right here; a chess piece he can transfer nearly anyplace within the entrance seven and get a constructive matchup. They usually nonetheless have Demarcus Lawrence, too, so Parsons is not a solo act. I do not suppose the Cowboys will probably be pretty much as good defensively as they had been final 12 months, however I’ve no issues calling them a top-10 unit.

I am a bit extra skeptical on offense, simply due to the receiver scenario. Cooper’s gone and each Michael Gallup and James Washington are damage and can miss time into the common season. I like Dak Prescott so much, however I am undecided the Cowboys’ weapons are as much as par with what we think about a contending group, not less than not because the 12 months begins.

Cale: With all that mentioned, that is a simple schedule—third best within the league, per our projections. Taking part in on this division will assist that, however getting the NFC North and AFC South makes this a cake stroll. I’ve my considerations about this group, however I feel simply having CeeDee alone could be sufficient to run over the likes of the Bears and Texans. Over 10 seems like a extremely secure quantity for me, given this schedule. I simply do not see this group going 9-8 or worse, even with the query marks.

Bryan: I hate the whole-number traces, as 10-7 looks as if a completely cheap consequence for the 2022 Cowboys. However yeah, I am with you on the over. Most of my questions concerning the Cowboys are extra about how they will match up with the cream of the cream of the convention, the place teaching errors and particular positional weaknesses will be the distinction between profitable a title or not. That won’t be a difficulty in opposition to the Little Sisters of the Poor on Dallas’ schedule, so 9-8 could be a frankly surprising consequence, and would presumably result in Mike McCarthy’s dismissal. Extra time to review analytics within the offseason, I suppose!

New York Giants (7)

Cale: I feel the John Mara press convention towards the top of the 2021 common season actually set the tone for this 2022 Giants group. It received its personal part within the 2022 version of Yr in Quotes. Mara virtually issued a public apology for the way his previous couple of teaching hires had gone, claiming the 2021 season was essentially the most embarrassed he has ever been as Giants proprietor and formally placing the nail within the coffin of the Dave Gettleman period. When somebody brings up your fourth-year, former No. 6 total quarterback and also you reply by saying “We’ve achieved every little thing potential to screw this child up since he has been right here,” you understand your group’s due for a reset.

Bryan: There was lots of detritus to wash up, and the Giants actually did not have the assets to do a lot about it this offseason. I do not suppose they will be the worst group in soccer. I do not suppose they’re the worst run group in soccer. But when I needed to decide one group to overlook the postseason this 12 months, the group with the bottom probability of truly taking part in soccer previous Week 18, I might decide the Giants. I simply see nearly no purpose for optimism, even loopy optimism, for the squad this season.

If the draft class had been any deeper, I do not suppose we might be seeing Daniel Jones as beginning quarterback; the Giants appeared prepared to maneuver on, however there was nobody actually value transferring on to. The remainder of the roster wasn’t adequate to actually justify giving issues up for a Baker Mayfield or a Jimmy Garoppolo; they’d increase the potential flooring for this group, however with no important increase to their postseason odds. So that they’re simply form of sitting and ready, hoping that Brian Daboll can work some magic and make Jones, or Saquon Barkley, or actually any of the current high-profile disappointments work out. Colour me skeptical.

Cale: I imply, if there’s one man who can flip this round, it is Daboll. Have a look at the Yr 3 magic he was in a position to work with Josh Allen. There are completely shortcomings in Jones’ sport that Allen would not have, however I really feel prefer it’s not a loopy distant comparability. And Daboll seems like the primary actual offensive coach Jones has had. He would not even want the historic top-10 turnaround. I feel individuals could be planning 2023 parade routs if Daboll received Jones to, like, fifteenth in DVOA amongst beginning quarterbacks.

Bryan: Or have a look at the magic Daboll labored with, uh, Matt Cassel as coordinator in Kansas Metropolis. Or Matt Moore in Miami. Or Colt McCoy in Cleveland! Wait…

Alright, I am being too onerous on Daboll there. These had been over a decade in the past and will not be precisely a assassin’s row of proficient prospects. Jones would theoretically be higher than that, even when I felt he was a big attain when the Giants took him at No. 6 (by no means thoughts that I used to be as an alternative pulling for them to draft Dwayne Haskins; drafting is difficult). And Daboll crafted an offense to work round Allen’s abilities, and labored with the quarterback to assist him essentially change his mechanics to assist produce that unprecedented leap. So, no, I do not suppose Daboll is the worst alternative in any respect to work with Jones. I am simply struggling to image what an offense designed round Jones’ strengths would seem like, as he hasn’t actually proven something that I might really feel snug constructing upon but.

Cale: I additionally suppose Daboll is beneath the least stress of any new coach—possibly Mike McDaniel as an in depth second—to reach 2022. They each have the quarterback as their scapegoat. Daboll has the additional advantage of being completely aligned along with his buddy from Buffalo, Joe Schoen.

We have not even introduced up that we challenge the Giants to boast the worst protection in soccer. You may speak concerning the struggles this offense will face, however not less than there’s one thing to work with there with Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Kadarius Toney, et cetera. This protection is barren, particularly within the secondary with James Bradberry and Logan Ryan skipping city.

The query is: is that this group unhealthy sufficient to fall beneath the dregs of the competitors they will be going through on their schedule? I am taking the beneath, however truthfully I feel they will reduce it nearer than we predict.

Bryan: It is value noting that the Giants have the toughest schedule within the division in line with our projections. That’s largely as a result of they don’t get the advantage of taking part in the New York Giants. I am with you on the beneath, nevertheless it’s a extra assured beneath from me. I feel the Giants usually tend to be battling for the primary decide within the draft than they’re to be attempting to keep away from double-digit losses.

Philadelphia Eagles (9.5)

Bryan: I am undecided there is a group the place our numbers diverge from typical knowledge as a lot as with the Eagles. Our projections have Philadelphia because the third-most possible group to make the postseason; betting odds have them tenth. We’ve them because the fifth-most possible group to win the Tremendous Bowl; at +2500, the markets have them 14th. Mike Tanier has been messing with our projection laptop once more, hasn’t he?

Cale: Maintain on, possibly Mike’s on to one thing right here. I imply, I am increased on Jalen Hurts than most, and that is inarguably one of the best scenario he has been in offensively. The secure of operating backs helped propel Philadelphia to the third-best offensive speeding DVOA final 12 months. Now, not solely does Hurts have the dynamic Devonta Smith and Dallas Goedert to throw to, however he has A.J. Freakin’ Brown on the surface. It is a miracle that the Titans had been the one group keen to surrender their piece of the 2019 vast receiver class, however the Eagles are a lot better for it.

Additionally would not damage that the Eagles had been in a position to carry again Jason Kelce, along with his hand-picked substitute Cam Jurgens ready within the wings. The remainder of the road is stable, however having Kelce again within the fold saved this group from lots of unneeded complications.

Bryan: I feel the Eagles have improved so much from final season, they usually had already improved final season from the place they had been the 12 months earlier than. I just like the course the group is trending in, and whereas I am not 100% bought on Hurts, I am not less than intrigued. The duo of Brown and Smith is an amazing pair, and sure, the Eagles actually lucked out that the Titans panicked on the market and dumped Brown for pennies on the greenback. I really like the offensive line, with Kelce, Lane Johnson, and Jordan Mailata anchoring it.

And the protection is improved, too—James Bradberry is a big add, and Jaquiski Tartt, regardless of possessing palms of stone, is an improve as effectively. They added Haason Reddick to the move rush, they drafted effectively by including Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean—I completely see what our projections are latching on to.

I nonetheless suppose the Cowboys are higher, however I suppose that is not the query we’re being requested to reply as we speak.

Cale: Yeah, and even nonetheless I feel the Eagles have an out of doors shot at overtaking Dallas for the NFC East. I am actually excited for what this group has to supply in 2022, and despite the fact that there will not be essentially the most safety round Hurts’ quarterback place, I do not suppose that is the 12 months they transfer on from him.

With the expertise on this roster, coupled with the best projected schedule in soccer, I like Philly sufficient to take the over. At worst, I see them as a 10-plus-win wild-card group, however once more, I truthfully do not hate them as a group to contend for the NFC East. That offense is simply that thrilling to me.

Bryan: To match our projections, Hurts has to take one other step ahead this 12 months; I might argue that he is the weakest hyperlink on the group as issues at the moment stand. And I am all the time involved when a weak hyperlink is the quarterback, as that has the potential to carry an in any other case well-constructed group to the bottom. However Hurts remains to be younger and rising, and it is totally conceivable he makes that subsequent step. I would go beneath primarily based on our projections, however I am pleased with the over at 9.5.

Washington Commanders (8)

Bryan: Freaking Madden auto-generated franchise, the Commanders. Horrible, disastrous uniforms. A reputation that’s concurrently generic and too paying homage to “Washington Generals” for my liking; they’ve queued themselves up for limitless jokes there. Two years of struggling by “Soccer Workforce,” and this is one of the best rebrand Washington may provide you with? What, does Dan Snyder have one thing extra urgent on his time than this?

… oh. Nicely, honest sufficient.

Cale: I am going to maintain myself temporary, however what a catastrophe the uniform/mascot rollout was for Washington. Each identify on the record was higher than “Commanders,” there isn’t any cohesion to the uniform set, the entire thing’s a multitude.

And but, it nearly feels becoming to unveil these uniforms and mascot the identical 12 months they commerce for Carson Wentz to be their new quarterback. Displaying up in a sizzling canine go well with straight out of an I Assume You Ought to Depart sketch is comedy in itself, nevertheless it suits the tone of what this group is. Madden auto-generated franchise could not be a greater description. Just a few gamers right here and there who could be family names in the event that they performed for every other group, however for essentially the most half that is only a nothing-burger of a roster. Wentz suits in nice because the face of a group like this.

Bryan: I perceive that, as a 49ers supporter, I am most likely increased on Jimmy Garoppolo than the common NFL fan. And that I am most likely even a bit increased on Baker Mayfield than the overall populace as effectively. However the way you decide Carson Wentz over both a type of guys as your massive offseason acquisition is past me. It is not like that is the Steelers or Falcons, each of whom would have an improve with Garoppolo or Mayfield however as an alternative are giving rookies possibilities behind moderately-paid veterans. The Commanders presumably grabbed Wentz as a result of they thought he would give them one of the best probability to win, and that simply appears unsuitable on its face.

Cale: I purchased a Baker Mayfield driving the (inebriated) hype of his Monday Night time Soccer win over the Jets his rookie 12 months, so I really feel like I’ve signed a blood oath to again Baker, however even with out that, Wentz loses the kill-buff-marry of that trio of obtainable offseason quarterbacks.

That being mentioned … is that this one of the best offense Wentz has had round him since, what, the Tremendous Bowl season? I would actually take Terry McLaurin over Alshon Jeffery or Nelson Agholor. This can be a very stable trio of receivers in McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and Jahan Dotson, and I am particularly excessive on Brian Robinson taking part in alongside Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic. The offensive line leaves so much to be desired, however the weapons listed below are good.

Bryan: Oh, I would argue final 12 months’s Colts offense was higher than this 12 months’s Commanders, with Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman and the offensive line and whathaveyou.

Cale: Do not understand how I forgot Taylor existed. Greatest receiver corps, possibly? Is there a method to save this take?

Bryan: Lean in onerous to operating backs do not matter? I’ll spot you the receiver corps being robust, however can any of them catch left-handed passes? As a result of that is all the time a chance when Wentz is compelled to improvise.

Cale: True, and if I realized something from final 12 months’s Any Given Sunday concerning the Colts’ loss to the Raiders, it is that Wentz will miss wide-open receivers by 5 yards if he is in something however a wonderfully clear pocket.

Bryan: There’s a bit extra room for optimism on the defensive facet of the ball, the place our projections have Washington rebounding from final 12 months’s Twenty seventh-place end. However Chase Younger goes to overlook time initially of the season, which can dampen the energy of that on-paper ferocious line a bit. I am not a fan of their cornerbacks outdoors Kendall Fuller, and the much less mentioned concerning the linebacker corps, the higher.

It feels a bit like Ron Rivera’s final stand. Washington hasn’t had a profitable season since 2016—one coach, 4 quarterbacks, and two identify modifications in the past. If that does not change this 12 months, it is onerous to think about Washington not blowing every little thing up and beginning once more in 2023. And regardless of the second-easiest schedule in our projections, I simply do not see the Commanders with the ability to compete. I am going beneath—they might nonetheless find yourself higher than the Giants, simply on expertise outdoors of quarterback, however not less than it feels just like the Giants have a plan going ahead. The Commanders are floundering.

Cale: Would not or not it’s so Washington for this group to overachieve simply sufficient for Snyder to justify operating this complete factor again for one more 12 months, Wentz, Rivera, and all? I would take the over nearly off the comedy that might ensue from that, however eight wins is simply too steep. Underneath feels proper. One other scenario the place the road feels sharp sufficient the place the push nearly feels just like the almost certainly final result, however I do not like this group sufficient to foretell a profitable file.

Bryan: 4 agreements in a row. Yup, we’re in basic kind right here! Possibly we’ll discover one thing extra to disagree on later this week after we deal with the AFC East.

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