Last year I probably paid too much attention to the NFL offseason, and I think it clouded some of my judgements heading into the season. As a consequence I decided for the 2022 NFL year I would pay as little attention as possible. Obviously — and I do mean obviously — I didn’t miss out on the wide receiver carousel, what with Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown all getting traded; I didn’t miss out on the NFL Draft or other significant free agency signings. I consider those to be givens.
At the same time, when last year I was paying attention to depth signings — inconsequential minutia that doesn’t shift the needle all that much — this season I have let some information fall through the cracks. I don’t love the NFL any less now than I did a year ago, and come time for meaningful football games I will be in the lab just as I always am. Previewing the NFL is an experiment for me. It’s a way to test myself against the market of football fans. I simply went through a different process this time around.
All over/under win totals are courtesy of Draft Kings.
Part VII: NFC East
1. Dallas Cowboys
2021 record: 12-5 2022 over/under: 10 wins
For being such a national team, in a way I feel like the Cowboys are being disrespected heading into this year. It’s lazy analysis for me to say ‘Dak Prescott is easily the best quarterback in the NFC East, therefore Dallas is going to win the NFC East,’ but that’s kind of how I feel about things. There has been too much emphasis on what the Cowboys lost this offseason — WR Amari Cooper and DE Randy Gregory to name a couple — and not enough attention has been paid to that which is most obvious.
If crowning the Winner Of The Offseason is what matters to you, then the Cowboys are not your team. What I see is a team that’s at least a tick above average, and they play in a soft division, in a soft conference, and get to play the AFC South — the weakest of the four AFC divisions. If Dallas doesn’t wake up with at least 10 wins by the time the playoffs start, something went terribly wrong.
2. New York Giants
2021 record: 4-13 2022 over/under: 7 wins
The Giants have an all-star cast of new coaches. Head coach coach Brian Daboll was Josh Allen’s offensive coordinator with the Bills; offensive coordinator Matt Kafka was Patrick Mahomes’s QB coach with the Chiefs; defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale was with a handful of very successful Ravens teams over the last half decade. For an organization going absolutely nowhere, the Giants could not have done much better.
So here’s my question: Is Daniel Jones really the guy they plan on taking to the future with them? With one of the sturdiest backups in the NFL, Tyrod Taylor, and a brand new coaching staff that one could easily argue have no interest in working with Jones longterm, could we possibly see another down year for the New York Giants in hopes of procuring one of the stud quarterbacks in the next years draft? I wonder.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
2021 record: 9-8 2022 over/under: 9.5 wins
Here we basically have the exact opposite of the Cowboys. With the Eagles, you’d be hard-pressed to find an area on the roster that needs a ton of work. The offensive line and running game appear to be solid. After acquiring A.J. Brown from the Titans, the receiving corp appears formidable. The defense is solid. With any decent quarterback play you might be looking at a Super Bowl contender.
But, Jalen Hurts? I always respected him for being a good soldier in college, taking Alabama to a National Championship before being replaced at halftime by Tua. Then transferring to Oklahoma and lighting it up for a year and ending up as a second round pick. I like the dude. I’m just not convinced he’s anything more than a league average (or worse) NFL QB who has ability to scramble. If he proves me wrong, then the Eagles can win their division. If I’m right, though, then this is an average team that will struggle to make the playoffs and be in the market for a veteran come next season.
4. Washington Commanders
2021 record: 7-10 2022 over/under: 8 wins
As someone who is generally bullish on the Washington
Redskins Football Team Commanders, it was disappointing (to me, anyway) when they traded for Carson Wentz. I imagine they were desperate to upgrade over Taylor Heinicke and figured anything at all was better than the something they had, but I’m in the business of judging and Wentz is unvaccinated and on his third team in as many years. He’s just not my favorite is all I’m saying.
I know sharp bettors are high on the Commanders — or higher than I am, anyway — but I just think I’ve seen this movie before. Again, the rest of the roster is fine. Wentz will probably win a few games he isn’t supposed to, and he’ll probably lose a couple that he shouldn’t, but when it’s all said and done I believe Washington wins either 7, 8, or 9 games, and that’s not fun for me to take a side on.
NFC East Projection:
- Cowboys: 11-6
- Eagles: 9-8
- Commanders: 7-10
- Giants: 5-12