Scramble for the Ball: 2020 East Over/ Unders Bryan Knowles 12 Aug 2020, 11:25 am
Andrew: Hello and welcome to Scramble for the Ball, where we are pleased to report that none of your friendly Football Outsiders staff opted out of the season prior to Thursday’s deadline. Neither did the unfriendly ones, for that matter. A full roster means another season of the same high-quality analysis from the rest of the Outsiders, and another season of the same inane warblings in this here column.
Bryan: Just as the professional football world holds chugging, boldly and/ or obstinately, towards a 2020 season filled with uncertainty, Scramble keeps flattening along. And what better room to celebrate football’s potential return than by looking at the two worst fractions in the play?
Andrew: That’s a emphatically pessimistic path to introduce the fractions that have given us three of the past four Super Bowl advocates, an all-time great run by a previously moribund franchise, a recent quarterback MVP, and some of the league’s most intriguing subplots over the past offseason.
Bryan: Oh, I didn’t say not interesting; I said worst. Sometimes, looking at the least qualified teams, at least on paper, is more interesting than looking at the prohibitive favorites. And if our aim is to try to predict Super Bowl advocates from previous seasons, I foresee my ten-strike frequency is going to go way up this year.
Andrew: More interesting than looking at the favorites, you say? Let’s dive right in, then.
Note: “Last Over” and “Last Under” below register the last time each squad went over this year’s over/ under number.
Andrew: Remember when this was the most irregular split in the play? The 2014 division-champion Cowboys accomplished a four-season run in which every franchise in the department won it accurately once. Washington won it the following year, but it has been very much haves and have-nots since.
Bryan: For the last three years, the story of the division has been Philadelphia and Dallas swapping first and second place, while New York and Washington flail and try to remain relevant. The oddsmakers prophesy much the same, as does Football Outsiders Almanac 2020, where both the Cowboys and Eagles are in the top 10 in projected DVOA, while the Whale and the, uh, Football Team are very much not.
I do think there’s more interest here than that, though. I think what you’re looking at in the NFC East is the division with the lowest floor in football. There’s reason to hope in all four municipalities — some more than others, apparently — but I think this is the division that has the ugliest combining of possible upshots if the bottom twilights out entirely.
Andrew: You know, for somebody who agrees that the NFC is the stronger conference right now, you sure are cynical about perfectly half of its teams, between this week’s introduction and last week’s look at the North.
Bryan: We’re saving the best for last and second-last; I’ve gotta save up all my NFC praisin’ for the last two over/ unders we have. The NFC may be the stronger conference, but it certainly isn’t an evenly distributed one!
For what it’s worth, I’m not reiterating my NFC North claim that there won’t be a 10 -win team now; I reflect either of the two favorites are capable of producing a solid, championship-contender run, the Heavyweight could see themselves in the wild-card race, and Washington will play some football, too. But I can look into my worst-case crystal ball and find possible crannies everywhere.
Andrew: In all such cases, commencing with( and this is perhaps passionately debated !) the strongest team in the split gives you a chance to get your extreme pessimism in early.
Dallas Cowboys( 9.5)
Last Over: 2018( Head Coach: Jason Garrett; Quarterback: Dak Prescott) Last Under: 2019( Jason Garrett, Dak Prescott)
Andrew: The Cowboys have won the division twice in the past four years, is certainly have determined that three times last year, and have recorded accurately one losing record since 2011 — 2015, in which Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden, and Kellen Moore started 12 tournaments between them.
Bryan: This is the toughest line in the partition for me, as 9-7 vs. 10 -6 is the difference between a wild-card team or strong split champion and the spot at which you start to get legitimately strong units penetrating the postseason. I don’t conclude the worst-case scenario is too hard to imagine — the Cowboys have a new coach-and-four and brand-new offensive thinking for the first time since, what, 2007? Mike McCarthy has changed Jason Garrett, and it can take time for a team to adjust to a new coach and his new strange rooms, from the far-off land of Wisconsin. Couple that with the continued uncertainty about Dak Prescott’s future, and this might be a bit of a transitional year … though one that I don’t contemplate terminates up with a losing record by any stretch of the imagination; the roster is too talented for that.
Andrew: Ah, the roster is too talented for that. Hasn’t that become pretty much the Cowboys’ tagline in recent seasons? Every single year, we predict that the Cowboys are too talented to be as middling as the issue is. I wonder what a certain former principal instruct would have made of those statements. You are what your record says you are, and all that.
From what I’ve seen and examined, as about as remote an outsider as here i am, it sounds like McCarthy’s looking to adjust as much to what the Cowboys do on pique as he is bringing his own themes. Regardless of any transition period, and understanding how disparaged McCarthy became by the end of his tenure in Green Bay, it’s really difficult for me to see almost any head coach as a downgrade from Jason Garrett.( Former Patriots coordinators is no requirement apply .)
Bryan: I do recollect Packers followers were too down on McCarthy by the end of his tenure there, though it was time for both unit and tutor to move on. Sometimes, a change of scenery is what everyone needs for a club to regain its competitive fervor and for a coach-and-four to rise to new challenges — insure Andy Reid and the Eagles, who pointed up both bringing home championships after their long successful tenure together.
I think it’s a very positive sign that McCarthy seems to understand what he has in Prescott and isn’t going to try to “fix” or reshape him into a predefined container. The dude led the league in DYAR last season! What he was doing was working just fine before! It’s the protection that has let Dallas down , not the offense, and I do make, in the end, McCarthy’s a good enough coach not to mess up what was working just fine. He’ll probably producing some of the up-tempo stuff he did in Green Bay, which I imagine will help the Cowboys face simpler coverages, but it’ll be mostly the stuff they were already do, only with more vim and vigor.
Andrew: Even the justification is hardly disastrous. Their 2018 and 2019 concerts basically cancel each other out to make a pretty much average unit. They might have the best linebacker radical in video games, which is I predicts noteworthy but not difference-making like it might have been in another era. Their big-hearted front-seven adds-on “re coming” from Carolina, which is a bit like buying emissions testers from Volkswagen, but this isn’t the millstone cell of the late-Romo era. Demarcus Lawrence is still here, and the loss of Jeff Heath is addition by subtraction.
Bryan: Losing Robert Quinn and Byron Jones will hurt, and I think we’ve both had knowledge being burned by “Mike Nolan will come in and fix the security! ” I repute the Cowboys’ defense has to be more aggressive to match up in 2020, and with more aggressivenes comes more potential for coverage disturbances, and so on and so on. Again, the prospects for the bottom to fall out is there.
Andrew: Fun fact: Mike Nolan has coordinated a top-1 2 DVOA defense at least one season everywhere he has been a coordinator other than Washington. He was merely the linebackers guy in New Orleans, and yes he flopped quite badly as a leader tutor in San Francisco. If there is potential for the protection to fall apart, there is also potential for it to be considerably better. Between Nolan and McCarthy, I’d say the Cowboys are in quite solid paws, even if they’re just likely to be at the forefront of coaching innovation. Even the bottom falling out, for me, merely looks like 7-9. There’s not an enormous amount of downside on this schedule.
Bryan: It’s maintain Kellen Moore that helps swinging my poll. Moore facilitated introducing Jason Garrett’s offense into the 21 st century, and he’ll probably be the regular playcaller in 2020. That has historically been McCarthy’s biggest weakness as an offensive coach-and-four, and Moore allows him to focus on the bigger picture issues like pace and aggressiveness and trying to convince his proprietor to sign his franchise quarterback to a long-term deal, what on Earth are you doing, Cowboys. I may be cynical about their long-term future, but I’m taking the over for the Cowboy for now.
Andrew: As I contemplate most of this has probably given away, I’m right there with you. This looks like the most likely division champion for me, as the team with the highest floor. If any crew comes out of this subdivision with more than 10 earns, I think it’s Dallas, and I could very easily realise a itinerary to 12 -4 if the leader coach-and-four is as much of an improvement as he should be. Under nine triumphs? The roster is too talented for that. Over.
New York Giants( 6.5)
Last Over: 2016( Ben McAdoo, Eli Manning) Last Under: 2019( Pat Shurmur, Daniel Jones)
Bryan: The disagreement for the Giants’ floor isn’t more difficult to conclude — the Monster have been bad for a very long time, and why should we expect anything else? Daniel Jones fails to make the next step, Dave Gettleman’s lack of a coherent program fails to build a foundation for a winning football squad, Joe Judge is the latest Bill Belichick assistant to flop when asked to fly on his own, the team scrambles to 2-14, and we start everything all over again.
Andrew: The statement for the ceiling is much, very difficult. You suggested that they could see themselves as a wild-card contender, which I approximate is hedged just enough — most teams will believe in themselves to that extent — but it seems outlandishly idealistic. Jones is at best the third-best quarterback in the segment if Alex Smith can’t make it back onto the field, and quite possibly the fourth if Smith can. This might be the worst linebacker corps in football, and linebacker’s much more of a obligation as a weakness than it is an asset as a strength.
Instead, the Giants’ strength might be the only thing less impactful than linebacker: running back, where Saquon Barkley is at least a sincere difference-maker. They haven’t done anything to really address their Barkley-and-the-slots passing game, I’m less than reassured by their front seven, their left undertake opted out( realise aforementioned observe on “addition by subtraction” ), and their remaining secondary is a lot of hope and not much expectation. I could see the Heavyweight being sufficiently better than Washington to stay out of the division’s basement, but I don’t recognize where seven prevails come on this schedule.
Bryan: I approximate I exactly don’t get what the right is doing. You now have a coach in his first year on a crew that’s starved for expertise at numerou outlooks; this should be the first year of a rebuilding process for Judge. And more you have a general manager entering his third season, who is under a direct, public dictate from ownership to win more plays, and to win them now. Your coaching staff and front office are operating under different anticipations, rather than in lockstep, and that’s never good. That’s one of the things that retained the Browns in torment for so long; fervor the instruct and keep the GM, then burn the GM and keep the coach, never going a clean-living start. We just has spoken about how we’re idealistic about the Cowboys’ offense now that Jason Garrett’s croak, but Garrett’s going to be calling plays in New York( for the first time since 2012, I should include, when he had that responsibility divested away from him ). I don’t envision Cowboys fans are worried with Garrett on the opposite sideline!
The big question mark is Jones, who was better than I expected when he was allowed to drop quickly and get the ball out of his hands — by which I intend with the forward pass , not his issues with fumbling. The ability to play well in lilt is an important skill, which contribute to him being the second-most impressive rookie quarterback last year. The difficulty is, he collapses when pressured or asked to stay in the pocket for longer than a duet seconds. He has a Favreian trust in his arm, which is good, but not the Favreian ability to constitute those gunslinging decisions actually labor. These are things that can improve in Year 2, but I’m pessimistic.
And then on protection, they lost their one good flood reces in DeAndre Baker to the commissioner’s exempt list, and I’m not sure James Bradberry moves the needle fairly for me as a replacing. I don’t remember Blake Martinez substantially cures that linebacker difficulty you’ve mentioned there, and the general churn on security feels like treading water rather than conspicuous improvements( though I will say I like rookie Xavier McKinney quite a bit ).
If Jones can take that is progress, and if the offensive science post cases play up to what they did last year, and if the offensive boundary stays intact, and if the justification takes a moderate step forward, I could see 9-7, which might even win the discord if the worst-case scenarios happen in Dallas and Philadelphia. That’s a lot of ifs for one run-on sentence, though. Under.
Andrew: It’s a lot of ifs for a crew that hasn’t more registered any reason to give them the benefit of any incredulity, more. Jones may have impressed some in certain facets of the passing game, but he still has a long way to go. He might be the kind of guy you could get enough out of if you employed a team around him, but I view very little evidence the Monster have said and done. I can see 6-10, with a strong aroma of 5-11. 5-11 is far more likely to me than 8-8, which necessitates the downside is larger than the upside. Under.
Philadelphia Eagles( 9.5)
Last Over: 2017( Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz) Last Under: 2019( Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz)
Bryan: Alright, so I have a theory which, like all my very best hypothesis, will crumble for the purposes of the slightest cross-examination. The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles each believe that they have the other’s quarterback situation. Dallas is reluctant to lock Dak Prescott up for the long term, as if he was a promising player who twinkles greatness but has not yet put together a complete season of enormous performance. Philadelphia previously has locked Carson Wentz up for the long term, as if he had had multiple top-five seasons in DYAR and DVOA under his loop as a track record.
Andrew: I think you’re being a little unkind to Wentz there, who was an MVP favorite in 2017 until his stroke knee injury, and has devoted a little too much time since rehabbing various things. I’ll concede that with Wentz, nonetheless, you should probably make sure your backup situation is solid — he has reminded me of Ben Roethlisberger for a variety of reasons, that being one. Fortunately, the Eagles did just that in the draft this year. So I predict my question is, which of those situations would you prefer to be in?
Bryan: For 2020, or for the foreseeable future? Because those are very different answers.
Andrew: Take each in turn.
Bryan: For 2020, I’m agitated if I’m Philadelphia. Wentz’s 2017 MVP-candidate season was sharp-worded, but he hasn’t surfaced 10.0% DVOA in any of his other three seasons. I’d be more pleasant with him on his fifth-year option, only to made to ensure that after a( relatively) healthful offseason, he can be the guy he was in Year 2 is again. I’m also concerned that I don’t have the best offensive string protecting him after Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles. I worry that I still don’t have the receivers to make the most of his aptitude, even after computing Jalen Reagor in the draft and coming DeSean Jackson back from trauma. I don’t think they drafted Jalen Hurts in the second round only to shore up their backup quarterback situation, is what I’m saying.
For the future, I’m much happier as an Eagles fan. Even if Wentz is just a bottom-of-the-top-1 0 chap instead of the MVP-level player he was as a sophomore, I’ve get him locked up and can construct the rest of my crew accordingly with my better front office. I don’t think there’s even much of a question: the Eagles emphatically have their 2021 quarterback on the roster barring a big disaster; the Cowboys may not yet.
I have to give Doug Pederson full credit for taking a team that by the end of the year was down to backups, practice-squadders, and couch-sitters at the skill post and contributing them into the postseason. That’s a blaze of a coaching job, both by him and by Jim Schwartz in navigate their pretty terrible injury luck to produce a regularly competitive team.
Andrew: One that appears to have improved this offseason too, even before accounting for players they get back( although as you mention, the loss of Brooks towers big ). Darius Slay is an excellent addition to a secondary that has had its ups and downs in recent seasons. Javon Hargrave should supplement a great deal to the defensive figurehead. Jatavis Brown isn’t a world-beater, but he’s good enough to play at the level they need.( Or at least he was — he retired the day after I wrote this. Score another stigmatize against my prognosis record .)
Bryan: Who starts across from Slay, though? Because whoever it is is going to be targeted approximately a zillion times, and I don’t trust Sidney Jones or Jalen Mills or Avonte Maddox to hold up under that degree of influence. You say ups and downs, but this feels like a real down this year.
Andrew: It’s considerably better than having those players and no Slay, which is how clumps of last-place season went.
Bryan: I reflect I started a game for Philadelphia at area at some degree; that’s how desperate they were for healthy bodies.
Andrew: Yet they still prevailed nine competitions and the subdivision, though a great deal of that had to do with a certain non-Eagles coach we’ve mentioned in every crew segment so far. The Eagles still get Washington and the Giants this year, which should mean four acquires off the bat. It’s the rest of the schedule that will compile or interrupt their season.
Bryan: The post-bye schedule for the Eagle is rough, rough, bumpy. You have the Seahawks, Packers, Saints, Cardinals, and Cowboys all in a row, plus a two-game road trip to New York and Cleveland looming right before that. I could imagine the Eagles entering the bye at 6-2 and finishing 2-6 without too much effort. I don’t think they have the mares on the outside, offensively or defensively, and I think that’s going to hurt them.
Andrew: I’d take 5-3 and 3-5, but that’s splitting “hairs-breadths”. It sounds like we’re chiefly on the same page, as ever.
Bryan: I guess my “worst-case” is a little worse than yours( 6-10 and a top-1 0 select !), but our overall opinions, as ever, remains the same. Under.
Andrew: That know it sounds a smidge too bleak. I consider I peg worst case at 7-9 with some reason to expect a 2021 backlash, but I don’t picture a great deal of area for the over here unless Wentz is back on 2017 flesh. I’m not going to gamble on that, entailing my expected outcome is probably 9-7. It’s not a big under on what is a very fair line, but it is an under.
Washington Football Team( 5.5)
Last Over: 2018( Jay Gruden, Alex Smith) Last Under: 2019( Bill Callahan, Case Keenum)
Andrew: The who’s this what-now? WFAT?
Bryan: I don’t get how there wasn’t a folder in a drawer some neighbourhood observed “in case of emergency, here’s our rebranding strategy.” Washington’s aged refer had been an issue in Native haloes since the 1940 s, in the general public’s eye since the 1970 s, and in the courtroom since the 2010 s. How do you not have an emergency plan for things going south in a hurry? Add in last-place month’s Washington Post story about the noxious culture in Football Team’s headquarters and the recent Derrius Guice arrest, and I think we’ve learnt the team with the worst offseason in football.
Damn, but those new regaliums look sharp, though.
Andrew: “Worst offseason in football” isn’t precisely uncharted country for this franchise, either. Hubris and myopia are a heck of a combination. However, that torrid offseason likewise gives me the most hope I’ve had for the future of this franchise since Robert Griffin’s rookie year. I have gargantuan respect for Ron Rivera, which has only germinate this summer, and we can always dream that maybe, just maybe, this might signal a change in course for the most difficult professional football right outside Ohio.
That hope is, unhappily, unlikely to amount to much on the field in 2020.
Bryan: Last-place week, I joked that we were looking at seven squads that could be used to, if the chippings fell right, triumph their separation, and then also the Cincinnati Bengals. Well, I’m sorry to all long-term Football Teamians out there, but same joke, different franchise.
Not that there’s no hope. Dwayne Haskins was the least-accurate passer of 2019, but he made significant steps forward in his last-place four starts. Computing Chase Young to the defensive course is a huge boost, and there was already a lot of expertise in that breast seven, if not always the production to back it up. Terry McLaurin was a pleasant surprise as a rookie and, uh, I usurp Washington will have other science posture actors, extremely. I entail, probably. All that possible could see them go all the way … to, like, 7-9, perhaps, in one of Rivera’s best coaching jobs to date.
Andrew: Alternatively, the protection is reasonable enough but the offense is an utter mudheap, headlined by a 35 -year-old running back behind a line that only transactions away its best musician( albeit one who doesn’t quite certify as a loss from last season ), with precisely one pass-catcher who should be starting tournaments at this statu and a quarterback who isn’t good enough to compensate. 3-13 is far from unrealistic.
Bryan: I think the long-term impact of Rivera will be fewer participates breathing rustles of relief when they get out of the mire that is the Football Team’s headquarters, but that will take a year or two to settle in.
There is one, tower, all-encompassing question I have about Washington, nonetheless, and hopefully we can figure that out right here: is it funnier to refer to them like a unit from an ‘8 0s unlicensed video game, talking about “QB Washington” and “RB Washington? ” Or like an English football club; “Washington FT.” If it’s the latter, it ain’t a Premier League team; it’s a Championship squad trying their damndest to stay out of League One. Or is it funnier just to use the Football Team nickname as much as possible, as I’ve been striving to do to this point?
Andrew: Go Team!
Bryan: Hail to the Football Team! Hail Victory! Players on a ballfield! Engage for genericity!
Andrew: Are we still do the old copy-paste “most boring division, Patriots always win, blah blah blah” intro now?
Bryan: Oh , no , no , no. It’s a brand-new paradigm now! This is the most exciting the AFC East race has been since … well, since the AFC East looks like it does now, truly. Or at least since Mark Sanchez was a thing. We was just so naive back then.
If the NFC East was the fraction with the lowest floor, I reckon the AFC East is the division with the lowest ceiling. With the possible exception of Miami, I don’t truly determine any unit in the disagreement cratering out this year, partly because they all get to play one another. And more, I have a hard time stumping for most of ’em to do anything particularly relevant.
Andrew: Oh, I don’t know, I ever consider it entirely possible that an Adam Gase team could crater out. Now I recognize that they don’t tend to do so, possibly because as it turns out cratering out is almost as difficult as deserving a bye-bye, but the potential is definitely there.
Bryan: A fair site, well debated. OK, maybe three of the four crews could crater out, as there’s no deficit of controversial competence to go around. What there is, nonetheless, is insufficient on confidence, with the main difference between 2020 and previous years is that some of that drought is hitting Foxborough as well. Still; should be a fun race to the surpass!
Buffalo Bills( 9)
Last Over: 2019( Sean McDermott, Josh Allen) Last Under: 2018( Sean McDermott, Josh Allen)
Andrew: Are you one of the crazies who meditates the Buffalo Bills are the team with the highest ceiling in the subdivision, or is that still the Darth Hoodie Death Star?
Bryan: I will say that Josh Allen has improved to the point where he can’t reached the broad side of a barn, as opposed to his rookie season where he couldn’t smacked “the farmers ” itself. Progress is progress! Allen was still the worst in the conference in attainment percentage over expected on legislates more than 15 grounds downfield at -6. 3 %, but that’s an improvement from 2018 when he was at -1 0.6%. He also actually became a positive passer in the intermediate game because — and stay with me because this is complicated — John Brown and Cole Beasley are professional receivers, while Zay Jones is a professional “watch the ball bounce off of my hands” … guy.
Andrew: The smartest thing the Bills front office has done is invest in one guy who is really really fast and good at tracking wayward deep delivers, and one who is really really good at catching off-target underneath proceeds. Beasley’s drop highlights show that he wasn’t perfect, because no one maybe could be with Allen’s variety of possible outcomes, but I am very impressed with the number of jobs the Bills did building around their quarterback…
… with the instead ginormous caveat that he is a quarterback they shouldn’t have been building around in the first place.
Bryan: In Football Outsiders Almanac 2020( cheap plug !), Derrik Klassen argues that the Bills may have the best, most complete roster in the NFL, a simulation for all struggling rights to fight their way out of irrelevance and into declaration. added, of course, you play in a organization with an all-time quarterback. And he’s not wrong.
Brown and Beasley are now joined by Stefon Diggs, so you have a receiving corps that runs three-deep with tone musicians. I’m a fan of Devin Singletary; the offensive string has slew of upside. The security is a powerhouse, and they evaded the missile of Tre’Davious White considering opting out. They have our best planned defensive estimation, and by relatively some distance.
Andrew: In short, they’re a fascinating study in what happens when you pair the best roster in the subdivision with quite probably the worst quarterback in the divide. They’re the trendy pick for the AFC East title. They have numerous recent playoff images under their regions, though they still haven’t triumphed a playoff game since January, 1996. They do, nonetheless, have a money line they’ve merely gone over formerly this century, and a knot of potential regression points.
Bryan: So the big question is, is one weakness enough to sink a team, even at the most important position in football? We’ve seen squads loaded defensively superseded with poverty-stricken quarterback represent — Blake Bortles and the Jaguars in 2017, Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago Bears in 2018. Like last year’s Bills, they journey immense defenses into promising postseason runs, and continue to reap the benefits of that to this da–
… hrm, what was that? Oh.
This is a juiced strand because the public insures a playoff unit last year and thinks the sky is the limit. With an Allen-shaped anchor, I speculate I could talk myself into a push at 9-7, but not much more than that. To get to double-digit earns, Allen will have to duplicate his improvement from 2018 to 2019. And, again, I do need to be clear now — last year’s Josh Allen was nature better than 2018 ‘s Josh Allen. If 2020 ‘s Josh Allen is better still, then yeah, maybe the Invoices are the division favorites. But … I necessitate, c’mon. Under, and I believe the easiest call this week( which makes I’m guaranteed to be wrong, but hey .)
Andrew: There’s a huge amount to like in Buffalo, but the most important player on the roster is still the reason to rein in expectations. Adam Gase jokes aside, every unit in this division except New England should be better than it was last year. The schedule isn’t accurately a assortment of cupcakes. The Bills will probably make some sports I don’t expect them to. They will probably lose some activities others don’t is looking forward to to. At 9.5 earns, I’d make the under. At 8.5, I’d make the over. Nine is just high enough that I recollect the downside outweighs the upside. Under.
Miami Dolphins( 6)
Last Over: 2018( Adam Gase, Ryan Tannehill) Last Under: 2019( Brian Flores, Ryan Fitzpatrick)
Bryan: Alright, so I moved the joke that the Football Teaminites were the only one squad we’re handle the coming week that can’t win their schism, so I suppose I’m on the spot to try to explain how the Dolphins could be YOUR 2020 AFC East endorses. Curse my joking hubris.
So, the Tank for Tua was successful, but that doesn’t definitely means that the Dolphins have to rush him into action. The best-case scenario for the Dolphins is probably Tua getting one more year to recover from his injury and letting the World’s Greatest Journeyman work his Fitzmagic one more time. The trio of Byron Jones, Xavien Howard, and Noah Igbinoghene( Did I trance that right first time? No, of course I did not .) returns the Dolphins what might be the best man-coverage corner group in the department, and I be considered that Brian Flores was a most creative defensive imagination than some other former Belichick auxiliaries currently browsing their defensive leader credentials to a fanbase originating progressively more dubious. The justification could take a significant step forward. I’m amazingly high on their running back in Matt Breida and Jordan Howard. The wide receiver office is adequate. The offensive pipeline has three new sketch pickings and some free agent possessions to bolster it. The coaching staff and front office seem to be on the same page and making good, solid, logically consistent is progress. Maybe everything gels together a year earlier than expected and the Dolphins can originating from their tanking time in 2020 rather than 2021.
Oh, and Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Cam Newton all have terrifying years. Did I forget to mention that? Because that’s probably as important, if not moreso, than anything Miami can do this year. I don’t view the Dolphins having a winning record, so they’ll need the rest of the jam-pack to collapse in towards them rather than
Andrew: It helps exceptionally that they once again have the Patriots in December, as whatever mystical help they have over Belichick’s team in that month has now proven immune to each of location, relative clevernes, and sanity. The Bengals and Jaguars are winnable last-place schedule assistances, which could be enough to boost them from last-place season’s 5-11 all the way to … uh, 5-11.
This is still not a very good roster. The pass hasten last season was a laughingstock, and the players they’ve supplemented don’t move the needle nearly enough for my attraction. The cornerbacks is all very well, but I’m not enamored with the refuges. The receivers are good, but I’m not in love with the offensive strand. Fitzpatrick is just good enough to not got to get eliminated too often. 5-11 was overachieving last season; this season, it’s right in line with my expectations.
Bryan: I’m very optimistic about the future of the Dolphins. Maybe I can get a parlay with that 2021 Vikings division championship I talked about last week. I just think expecting causes this season is a year too soon. Under.
Andrew: I can see a road to 7-9 if everything divulges right. Everything unusually, very rarely break-dance right for the Dolphins, and I can see 4-12 much more easily than 8-8. Under.
Brand-new England Patriots( 9)
Last Over: 2019( Bill Belichick, Tom Brady) Last Under: 2000( Bill Belichick, Drew Bledsoe)
Andrew: There are a lot, many behaviors in which the Patriots are the anti-Browns, and this is just one more to add to the list. We lampooned the Browns last week for not going over their 2020 route in over a decade. The Patriots haven’t gone under theirs since the first season of the present millennium. Is this another “believe it when I see it” mark, or are we legitimately about to witness something historic?
Bryan: Well, we’re going to witness something historic either way. Either the Patriots have their first non-winning season since the Clinton administration, or they restrain the apparently untouchable Landry Cowboys record with 20 consecutive triumph seasons. The Patriots came out as the top dynasty in NFL history when I did my offseason house standings, and I urged people then — horror movie icons tend to pop back up, even if you think you’ve learn the body.
Andrew: I’ve been burned by grade faith in Cam Newton’s health before, but the thing is, that was a very different franchise, with a very different coaching staff, in a very different division. I’ve seen parties point to the Matt Cassel year, with its too very different circumstances, and I’m not sure I like this Patriots team to thumped 11 -5 unless Cam really is capital-B Back. However, I also remember one of the craziest stats I’ve seen in this sport, that Bill Belichick has a better win-loss record without Tom Brady than Mike McCarthy had with Aaron Rodgers, and I’m merely not ready to write the obituary yet.
Bryan: Another actuality that has to come into play here is COVID-1 9. For most crews in the organization, the opt-out period was mostly uneventful — maybe one starter lost, or a few depth actors. But the Patriots had a league-high eight opt-outs, including Dont’a Hightower, Marcus Cannon, and Patrick Chung, who are three of the ten best players on the All-Opt-Out Select. That’s a significant blow.
Andrew: However, COVID is also one of the factors in my approximation here, because there is no team I trust more to handle the unique circumstances — the lack of fans, the crazy external situation, the prospects for massive disruption, the probable restrictions on free agents and waiver pickups — and there has their players prepared and focused for every game than New England.
But there is no way the Patriots defense is anywhere near as good as they were a year ago. Zero chance. Not merely do you have regular regression , not only do “youve had” the opt-outs, but you’re likewise missing Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, Danny Shelton, Duron Harmon, Elandon Roberts … without any real self-evident off-roster replacings. Next humankind up to the extreme.
Andrew: The roster turnover hurts a great deal. I’m a fan of Marqise Lee, and his opt out is a bigger blow in my approximation than I expect in the eyes of most. That keeps their receiver situation remedial, absent-minded a breakout from N’Keal Harry. The defense has been furnishing for this in recent years, and the staff will now get an early look at their statu. Cam Newton, if healthy, can do things very few other players can do, and Belichick is the man to make sure he has those opportunities, but this is a tough expect. Realizing an actual hopeful of this listing would be Belichick’s finest coaching job in at least a decade.
Though on that note, the Patriots made a conference championship game with Reche Caldwell, 35 -year-old Troy Brown, and Doug Gabriel as their top wide receivers. If any faculty are able to obtain that done, it’s this one.
Bryan: If Cam Newton is Cam Newton, I think there’s fairly talent there on pique to make this work — and you’re right, the protection is furnished; they are prepared for this. I do have to wonder if Healthy Cam Newton is a thing we’ll ever attend again — like you said, we’ve been burned before. But the Patriots might have the best offensive and defensive coach-and-four in the partition. They dragged Matt Cassel to an 11 -5 season, and that was without a full offseason of planning for life after Tom Brady.
Andrew: I’m terribly, very tempted by the push here. It’s the coaching personnel that tips it for me. They not a million years ago acquired a game against a playoff competitor with rookie third-stringer Jacoby Brissett running the option, for pity’s sake. If Newton is healthy, they’ll get everything they can from him, and if he isn’t, they’ll get everything they can from the next soul up. Like they always do. The maniacs. Over.
Bryan: This year’s Patriots have the lowest floor we’ve seen for a Patriots team in decades, which entails 7-9. But c’mon, would anyone be surprised if it’s yet another 12 -4 season running around the little sisters of the AFC East? It’s a tough call for me, and I’d love the line if it was 8.5 or something( expletive you, whole number threads !), but I really can’t bring myself to say anything but Over until confirmed otherwise.
New York Jets( 6.5)
Last Over: 2019( Adam Gase, Sam Darnold) Last Under: 2018( Todd Bowles, Sam Darnold)
Bryan: When I first was collecting these lines some weeks ago, I realise the Spurt at 6.5 and meditated, oh, that one should be an easy over at least; one less thing are concerned about. Then they lost their best two defenders, and now I have to think again. Thanks, Jets.
Andrew: I’m not sure how much losing a linebacker who missed almost all of last season and downgrading from Jamal Adams to Bradley McDougald certainly feigns my opinion of the Jet. It’s not that C.J. Mosley and Adams aren’t good players; they’re excellent. The Spurt, however, departed 7-9 last-place season with Sam Darnold missing three of those losses with mononucleosis, they’ve modernized the catastrophe of a line( though how much of an improvement that is, if at all, is uncertain ), and they aren’t a team that is entirely reliant on one or two difference-making players. No , not even their( again, excellent) onetime starring safety.
Bryan: I will say, turning a safety who didn’t want to play for you anyway into two first-round picks and a replacement safe is a hell of a drag; Running a Football Team 101 kind of stuff. I presume they cover “don’t alienate your whiz players to the point where they involve a trade” in Running a Football Team 201.
I do believe lopping the top two actors off of a protection does make this a significantly tougher call. I was all ready to say the Jets were an 8-8 crew with a revamped onslaught path and some new weapons for a health Sam Darnold, plus a security poised to jump into the top 10. And now that 1.5 -win cushion is in question! Bah.
Andrew: I think you have them just about pegged, with the caveat that I am very strongly Not A Fan of Adam Gase, and I’m of the opinion that he hugely restriction their upside. Nonetheless, absent-minded a disaster from Darnold, their downside doesn’t look that big either. I’d say their range is approximately 6-10 to 8-8, and I’d be most comfortable anticipate a Fisher-esque repeat of 7-9. I don’t ensure anybody on the Airplane who’s going to step up and stimulate them into a playoff team, but I don’t discover any reason to expect a downfall either. McDougald was the only competent defensive back in Tampa Bay during their detrimental DVOA heyday, and skill is a characteristic of the Airplane listing. It’s not a ringing acceptance, but it is enough that I’m content to take the over.
Bryan: Now, you’ve settled me in a real bind, now. Because I do thoughts, in the end, my( relative) optimism regarding the Plane isn’t detriment enough by the loss of Mosley and Adams to change my overall agreement. But, if I say that, then we will have agreed on eight out of eight squads this week, and 15 out of 16 over the first two clauses. That’s a hive sentiment and a half, even by our grand standards.
Eh, contradicting for disagreement’s sake is what spawns First Take. I’ll make the over as well. Our audition for Fox Sport 1 hasn’t gone well at all, I’m afraid.
We’ll have to go further afield to try to find actual sources of disagreement. Next week, our quest for different opinions will take us into the uncharted regions of the South, which computed potential Hall of Fame quarterbacks like they were going out of style. Will Bryan and Andrew eventually find a split they can’t agree on? Stay tuned next time, genuine believers.
by Jetspete // Aug 12, 2020 – 12:14 pm
i’ve been able to peg the jets pretty well since the confidence of the Rexy era died. Last-place year’s record was against a poor planned. Sam proved clues of progress but that justification now has zero playmakers. Their ceiling in my imagination is 3 division wins, most likely 2. They face the two Wests without a layup sport in sight. If the line keeps healthy, protects sam perhaps 7 makes? But more likely they start 0-3 and are hopeless headed to a home Thursday nighter vs Denver. Gase is fuelled after an 0-4 start, Williams coaches well like he did in the last interim stint and the Aircraft constitute love belief one more year of Sam is all we need! this schedule feels like 5-11 and an easy under.
by theslothook // Aug 12, 2020 – 1:13 pm
In reply to jets under by Jetspete
I see it the same way, frisking out the same way. The planes are bereft of perimeter players on pique and defense; something adapt made to lose in the modern NFL. Per Ben Muth, the line was a soviet winter campaign like calamity in terms of coordination despite being laden with veterans – a clear indictment of an incompetent coaching personnel that remains coaching this team.
I am also leaning on the two sides of Darnell is a bust and Gase is not a good top tutor, a combination that usually spells destiny for any team. In thinking it over, there are only a handful of units that I can make a compelling case for being worse than the Jets; the Jags and the Panthers are the other two that spring to mind.
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