Let’s start with the division of your NFL Champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Philadelphia Eagles – Here is Red’s favorite to repeat as NFC East champion. After all this team won the Superb Owl with a backup quarterback and a couple of trick plays over the greatest team of the 21st century led by perhaps the winningest quarterback the NFL will ever see. That said, the track record for championship teams the next season is spotty at best (putting aside the Patriots of course). Ask yourself, what have the Giants, Stealers, Saints, Broncos and Ravens done for you lately? And that said, the Eagles still have the best defense in the East, a returning Superb Owl MVP as the backup quarterback, a decent corps of wide receivers (addition of Mike Wallace could be big) and question marks in the backfield (see you later Fat Pig aka LaGarrette Blount). And that said, there is always the issue of the champions’ schedule. That schedule is doubly brutal this year as the Eagles are playing the AFC South which looks to have two playoff teams and the NFC South with potentially tough games against the Saints, Panthers and Falcons in the season opener on September 6. Looking up and down the Eagles’ schedule, the only games that one could count as sure wins are home games against the Giants and OTNA’s and maybe the Colts and Buccaneers. With the difficult schedule and a few question marks Philadelphia goes 11-5.
New York (Jersey) Giants – One possible last hurrah for Manning the Younger this season. A muted hurrah at best though. The Giants seem to be headed in the right direction with a new GM in Dave “the Gentlemen” Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur (formerly OC for the Vikings – who would have been surprise of the 2017 season but for the aforementioned Eagles). Shoring up the offensive line with Nate Solder (late of the Pats) and Rookie Will Hernandez may mean that EM is not running for his life on every other play. But the big reason to have hope among the Giants’ faithful is the addition of RB Saquon Barkley. Recent trials have shown that a fresh young running back – who can run, block and catch – lifts the entire offense. As Cowboys’ fans about E. Elliot and Jaguars’ fans about L. Fournette. If Barkley is the real deal, the Giants will not start 0-5 – maybe 2-3 with a brutal opening stretch of Jaguars, Cowboys, Texans, Saints and Panthers. New Jersey is 9-7. No soup for you.
Dallas (Arlington) Cowboys – It was something of a miracle that the Cowboys managed to win 9 games last year with their pathetic excuse for a defense through a good part of the season (giving up more 27+ points six times) and the offense that disappeared for six games. The only real changes are the subtractions of future HOFer Jason Whitten and future Huntsville resident Dez Bryant. This season rests on the ability of the Boys to consistently score 25 points per game. And that rests on the shoulders of the offensive line (still very good but no longer great) Dak P. (good) and E. Elliot (very very good). The Red Rule is back in play however. And for those who don’t remember that rule is – “Score 14 points and beat the Cowboys.” Here’s a stat for you – only the Cowboys, OTNAs and Lions have failed to play for an NFC Championship in the last 22 seasons. That doesn’t change for anyone this year. Arlington Cowboys are 8-8.
Washington (Landover, Md.) OTNAs – For new readers that means “Offensive Term for Native Americans.” The real offensive thing will be how badly the OTNAs stink this year. This is a franchise that aspires to mediocrity and just missed that mark with a season-ending loss to the godawful Giants in 2017. Alex Smith will be a boost as he is a guy who knows how to get the best out of the talent around him. It is the talent around him that is questionable. The offensive line is serviceable but skill positions are a lot of question marks. Red likes Smith and thinks he deserves a shot at the big ring. He just won’t get it with this season and not likely ever with this team. Landover, Md. struggles to a 7-9 record again.
PS: Red will throw in his annual bitch about the Cowboys TV schedule. The team that hasn’t sniffed a championship in going on 23 years now gets five primetime games (including the mandatory Thursday nighter) and six national TV late games (including the prime Thanksgiving spot) only one of which (Seahawks) is time zone related. At some point, people just aren’t going to hate the Cowboys enough for this ridiculousness to make sense.