Since Red is making NFL predictions, he is technically obligated to pick a winner in the AFC East. For 16 of the last 18 seasons, that has not exactly been a particularly taxing chore. Here goes again – Damn it.
New England Patriots – Almost every year, Red writes, “It is cowardly and spineless to pick New England year after year. And Red will keep doing it until he is proved wrong. (Hey, this is about the point Red has trouble coming up with new material – so excuse me).” (Hey, this is about the point where Red has trouble coming up with new material – so buzz off). Barring catastrophic injury to TB-12 or early onset of dementia or the possibility of Trump taking a Sharpie and making a mess of Bellicheat’s game plan, the Pats should ride into the playoffs. But it won’t be quite as comfortable a ride as usual because go-to target Rob Gronkowski will be celebrating his new physique somewhere other than the friendly confines of Insert Corporate Name Here Stadium. Every other team in the division will be better than last season, but not better enough. As always, Red hopes that he is wrong and the loyal readers can shout from the hilltops, “Red, you were cowardly and spineless to pick New England yet again.” But Red doesn’t hear the fat lady warming up yet. New England slogs to a 10-6 record but still repeats as division champ.
Buffalo Bills – The Bills have made improvements on offense shoring up the O-line with five signings. They give LeSean McCoy a new lease on life and provide some breathing room for second year QB Josh Allen – who got way too much OJT last season. The Bills actually played decently after a 2-7 start. If they can keep that pace a winning record will be in sight. The defense is solid, the return game could be interesting and if you haven’t read about Stephen Hauscha’s back story and rise from kicker for the Middlebury College Panthers who play in the NESCAC, then you are missing out. It’s quite a story. Look it up. At any rate, he is the tallest kicker in the league. Buffalo bulls its way to a 9-7 record and as for the playoffs – hmmm.
New York Jets – After a 1-9 finish to the 2018 season, a real house cleaning was in order with a new head coach, new offensive and defensive coordinators and the hopefully fresh legs of LeVeon Bell who sat out last season and middle-of-the-pack wideout Jamison Crowder. Darn Old Sam is still the QB and that is the biggest limitation on the Jets prospects this season. Although the house may be clean, the hedges still need trimming and there are a lot of weeds in the backyard. And when you are getting your new head coach from the Miami Dolphins – well you are getting new head coach that was fired from the Miami Dolphins. Let Red repeat – Fired by the Miami Dolphins. At least the Jets finish ahead of the Dolphins but 6-10 is the ceiling here.
Miami Dolphins – Tanks to their many off-season moves, it looks like a long season for the Aquatic Mammals. Expect a lot of dive plays from the offense. Red is disgusted and must quit now. Oh, did Red say that every team in the AFC East will be better? He meant every team that is actually trying to field a team. Someone has to suck and its Miami at 1-15.
Ah the NFC East, aka the division of former champions. Red had never thought about it and it wasn’t actually true until the 2017 season, but the NFC East is the only division that features four teams that have won the Superb Owl.
The only question for the Eagles is whether Carson Wentz can actually stay on the field for an entire season. There will be no all-world backup Nick Foles to fall back on this season. But Red thinks the Eagles have a decent chance of going undefeated in the NFC East and owning all tiebreakers against their division rivals. Look for the Eagles to possibly have the best running game in the NFC with an almost entirely new crew led by Jordan Howard with Miles Sanders and Wendell Smallwood in the wings. Yes, those aren’t big names but they will get a lot of space because of the big play possibilities with CW at the helm. Red also thinks there is a decent chance that Jadeveon Clowney is traded to the Eagles at some point which immediately ups their somewhat no-name defense (quick name Red a defensive starter). Red has Philadelphia going 10-6 and winning this division.
Red begins with his annual bitch about the incredibly favorable TV treatment afforded the Cowboys year after year – despite the now decades long stretch of mediocrity of this franchise (3 playoff wins in the last 21 seasons). This season the Cowboys have only 4 noon starts one of which is the traditional noon start on the last Sunday of the season to avoid intentional playoff maneuvering. They have 6 late afternoon games – none of which are time zone related (Giants, Packers and Rams at home and Jets, Patriots and Eagles on the road). Then there are 3 coveted Sunday night games (Eagles, Vikings, Saints), one Monday nighter (Giants), the obligatory Thursday night appearance (Bears) and the sweet late afternoon spot on Thanksgiving (Bills). Maybe watching all of these Cowboy games will make you as sick of winning as Trump claimed he would – but don’t count on it. In the battle of the big egos between Jerry Jones and Zeke Elliot, Red will take JJ everytime – even if it means sacrificing a season. The once vaunted offensive line is tired and old, but otherwise the Boys are remarkably young. There is really no reason why they shouldn’t be competitive. But the schedule looks brutal albeit with a relatively easy start against the Giants, OTNAs and Dolphins and the Boys could be 3-0 by the end of week 3. Then things get rough with the Saints, Packers, and Eagles (with the Jets thrown in as a palate cleanser). Now they are 4-3. A couple of week breather gets them to a respectable 6-3, but then Patriots, Bills, Bears, Rams and Eagles are next and they are 9-6 at best. Here is the kicker, they have to play the Pats, Bills and Bears in 12 days. Red doesn’t think they survive that stretch and the OTNAs beat them at home in the last week to knock them out of the playoffs. Arlington goes 9-7 and misses the dance.
New Jersey Giants
It has been fruit basket turnover in the Meadowlands. GM Dave Gettlemen ditched OBJ and has brought in a host of free agents and ten count ‘em ten draft picks. Many have concluded that the Giants reached to select Duke QB Daniel Jones with the 6th overall pick. Red thinks the Giants will be glad to have a warm body to take the snap once it is proven that Eli Manning is a likely front-runner for the 2019 NFL Deadman of the Year Award. The Giants will cause some trouble with all-world RB Saquon Barkley behind a decent O line. But really this team will go only as far as SB can carry them. New Jersey is a 7-9 team on a good day.
As noted above, the highlight of the OTNA’s season will be knocking the Cowboys out of the playoffs. Look, Red likes Case Keenum – he should still be the Texans backup quarterback, but the idea that he is going to lead the OTNAs to glory just doesn’t fly. And starting rookie QB Dwayne Haskins would be a recipe for disaster with as little support as there is available. Maybe Adrian Peterson has something left in the tank – but Red thinks last season was the last hurrah (and quite a hurrah it was) for AP. The defense will be much improved by the addition of Montez Sweat and Landon Collins. Does Red really need to say anything else. Landover, MD will be lucky to finish 6-10.