A New…. Series: 2020 (Possible) NFL Season Preview
By: Jamar Brown (@jamar2698)
Aha ha, I’m back. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Quarantine put me in the biggest mental block I’ve ever experienced, but with the return of sports (possibly) around the corner, I’ve felt a new wave of inspiration crash over me, and it’s time to get it poppin’. With the NFL still planning on having a season, I felt it was only right to take advantage of that and give you (the readers) a proper preview of the upcoming season, division by division. The previews will include what I think their potential record will be, what I thought about some of the offseason moves, and how a small breakdown of some of the notable games. Today, we’re going to start things off with the loudest division in football, the NFC East. Quick shoutout to the future roommate Robbie, I’m continuing his legacy from last season.
This isn’t a biased take at all, I promise. On paper, this is a team that should make the Superbowl. You’re looking at one of the best-receiving cores in all of football, arguably the best running back in Ezekiel Elliot and an offensive line that, despite losing Travis Fredrick, should still be a top 5 unit in the league. Mind you, that’s just on offense. Defensively, there have been both positive and negative changes. Byron Jones and Robert Quinn left for Miami and Chicago respectively, but I feel like Dallas addressed both those losses and still made improvements. The signing of Haha Clinton-Dix was my favorite move. It finally gives Dallas the legit safety that they’ve been searching for. Bringing in Gerald McCoy makes me think the defensive line should be a little bit better off than last year. I also feel like drafting Trevon Diggs was the second steal of the draft for Dallas (behind Ceedee Lamb, of course). If Demarcus Lawrence can return to peak form, this can be one of the most talented defenses in the league. The only thing that was a question mark for this team was Dak. I was fully comfortable going into the season with Andy Dalton as the starter, considering that he made the playoffs several times with considerably less. Even after Dak signed the franchise tag, I don’t feel too differently about the situation.
Taking a look at the schedule, there are plenty of games; I would deem “trap games.” Games against the Browns, Falcons, and Cardinals scare me. If the Browns can live up to their expectations, they could challenge Pittsburgh for the second (or even third) playoff spot in the AFC North. The Falcons boast an offense the has nothing but 1st round picks and are led by a defensive-minded coach (no matter how much success he’s had). The Cardinals added Deandre Hopkins, who is arguably the best receiver in the game. The o-line is improved, and I’m expecting big things out of Kyler Murray in his homecoming game (on Monday night no less). The games at Seattle and Baltimore scare me. Baltimore has one of the scariest rosters and the most dynamic signal-caller since Michael Vick. Seattle has Russell Wilson. Need I say more? I also expect Dallas to have the annual split with Philly, considering that seems to be the norm. San Francisco also seems scary, especially the defensive line. Dallas’ floor is 9-7. If they live up to expectations? They could be the best team in the conference.
Projected record: 13-3, NFC Champs
I picked the Eagles to finish 2nd in the division for two reasons. First, I don’t believe that offense is built to last, no matter how good Carson Wentz is. They did add some speed at receiver in Jalen Reagor and Marquis Godwin. Alshon Jeffery and Desean Jackson are also healthy. Zach Ertz and Dallas Godert return to help the receiving game up the middle. Their running game should be dynamic as well, with Miles Sanders entering his second year. This all means nothing when Wentz won’t be upright long enough to get the ball to them. They lost Jason Peters, and Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles. Outside of Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, the line is expected to struggle. Wentz is already injury-prone. If they can’t figure out the right rotation for that o-line, we could be seeing Jalen Hurts more than expected this year.
Second, that schedule is brutal. They have all of the trap games that Dallas has except instead of the Falcon. They have to play even better Saints. They also get to play Green Bay at Lambeau. The toughest part of their schedule starts week 4 when they have one of the scariest 5-week stretches I’ve seen in a long time. They start on the road against the Niners and the Steelers, head back home for a game against the Ravens, have a short week when they play against the Giants on Thursday night. To cap it off, they then have a Sunday night game against Dallas before they head into their bye week. The floor is shallow for Philly. By low, I mean 6-10. If everything works out in their favor, I don’t see them doing any better than 11-5. This might not even be good enough to earn a wildcard spot.
Projected Record: 11-5, Wildcard
New York Giants
The NFC East as a whole has to go up to challenging divisions this season, which might put a hold on seeing the full potential on young teams, specifically the Giants in this case. They should have no problem moving the ball up and down the field with what looks like a solid offense on paper. The issue with this team is the defense. While their interior defensive line is elite, they have questionable edge rushers. While there are still available high-end pass rushers available in Jadeveon Clowney and Yannick Ngakoue, that would include paying out a lot of money (Clowney) or trading a boatload of picks (Ngakoue). They went ahead and signed Blake Martinez and James Bradburry as well as drafting Xavier Mckinney out of ‘Bama to fill some much-needed holes in the defense. The fate of the season will be determined by if the defense can successfully stop the pass or not.
Looking at the schedule, it’s tough. There are little to no easy games to look forward too outside of Washington. They do play the Bears in week two but that’s on the road with a stout defense and what looks to be an improved(?) offense. Outside of those games, only Cinci and possibly Arizona look like winnable games for the G-Men. This is going to be a tough season, but if they can have a solid draft in 2021, the Giants could challenge for prominence in the East. Their floor is a severe 3-13, while their ceiling is only 6-10.
Projected Record: 4-12, Top 5 Pick
Washington’s Football Team
When looking at Washington’s team, they’re the complete opposite of the Giants. Probably one of the most talented, young defenses in the league along with one of the premier defensive-minded coaches we’ve seen this century. The pass rush looks tremendous, especially after drafting Chase Young. The linebacking core, when healthy, is serviceable, and the secondary added Ronald Darby and still have Landon Collins. The biggest question surrounding this team is the offense. Dwayne Haskins is still questionable right now, but the team believes in him. The running back situation is the ageless Adrian Peterson and the oft-injured Derrius Guice. If both can stay healthy, Washington could have an extremely potent running game that would distract from their lack of receivers. Their lone noticeable receiver is Terry McLaurin. If he gets doubled, Haskins could find himself in a world of pain. He’s already turnover-prone, and with a weak offensive line, the offensive could be stagnant all season.
Looking at the schedule and this roster, it could be time to start getting the Trevor Lawrence (or Penei Sewell) jersey’s ready in D.C. There are probably only four winnable games for this team, and I could only see them winning if their opponents have an off day. The Bengals are talented but have a rookie quarterback. If the pass rush of Washington can cause enough pressure on Burrow, Haskins might have a shot at pulling one out. The Lions have been one of the worst teams in the conference for years, but the offense has big-play potential, and Patricia is supposed to be a defensive wiz. If the Redtails (I like that name a lot) can protect Haskins long enough, I think this game could be a shootout. None of that matters, though, because I just don’t see the offense doing much of anything this year. The floor is bright for this team: 0-16. The ceiling is no more than 3-13, and that’s being generous.