NFC East (2014 Finish: Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Redskins)
Overall: Another division where I predicted the eventual winner correctly. This despite no one thinking the Cowboys would win more than 6 games.
My only mistakes were thinking that the Redskins would see some improvement and that the Giants would regress. Neither happened.
2014 Record: 12-4 (Pythagorean Wins: 10.8)
2014 Division Rank: 1st (My prediction: 1st)
2014 Injury Rank: 19th
2015 Age Rank: 14th
2014 DVOA Overall (O/D/ST): 6th (4th / 22nd / 13th)
I said last year that this team only needed their defense to be in the 20th range to be a 10-6 team. I was exactly correct, especially if you look at their Pythagorean record. They were lucky to win 12 games, but still were the best team in the division.
Their biggest loss in the offseason was DeMarco Murray. Make no mistake, he’s a very good RB. However, he was not a great RB despite leading the NFL in yards gained rushing. How can this be? Because he was used a ton. If you rush way more often than anyone else behind a great OLine you’re going to lead the NFL in yardage.
He can be replaced and he will.
This offense is loaded. They have a great QB, a bunch of targets, and a deep and good OLine. They’ll end up around the same spot in offensive DVOA.
There are major changes to this defense and it’s all on the DLine. Their best pass rusher was hurt most of last year, and he’s back. Randy Gregory has looked really good, as has Greg Hardy who’ll be there for 12 games. Add in Tyrone Crawford who is being tabbed for the Pro Bowl and a variety of talented backups tells me this will be a much better line.
Yes, they lost their best CB, but they got their best LB back who they lost all last year. I see major improvements in this defense, up to something like 10th in the NFL.
That being said, I think this team will only win 11 games because their schedule is tougher this year.
They were lucky in their Pythagorean record and that will regress to the norm, but they weren’t lucky in terms of injuries and this is not an old team. Yes, I’m a Dallas homer, but in my opinion, this is still the best team in the division.
2014 Record: 10-6 (Pythagorean Wins: 9.7)
2014 Division Rank: 2nd (My prediction: 2nd)
2014 Injury Rank: 5th
2015 Age Rank: 28th
2014 DVOA Overall (O/D/ST): 7th (13th / 10th / 1st)
People are predicting the Eagles could go to the Super Bowl. They think that the additions of Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and Nelson Aglohor to an offense with a damn good OLine, Darren Sproles, and Jordan Matthews will be amazing.
I don’t see it.
Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez weren’t bad last year. Sam Bradford has never been great, certainly not major upgrades to either of those two. Could he be? Yes. This could be a perfect fit, and he could massively exceed his previous production, but he’s in his 5th year and that is unlikely.
I see the the same thing for RB and WR. LeSean McCoy is a fantastic RB. Will Murray be that much better? I doubt it. Same for Jeremy Maclin. Aglohor will be good, but significantly better?
Plus, they had two of the best guards in the NFL last year in Todd Herremanns and Evan Mathis. Their OTs and their center are very good, but these two will not be replaced easily.
This was a slightly better than average offense last year. I think they’ll improve, but will they be the best in the NFL? I don’t think so.
Their defensive front is very good. I can see some improvement here, but it depends on if their defensive backfield, which was wretched last year, can improve.
However, I see a major dropoff in their special teams. They were amazing last year and had a ton of returns. TD returns tend to be fluky. They will have some regression to the mean.
Plus this is a team that has had 2 years of really good luck with injuries. It is more likely than not that they’ll have some injury problems this year.
Overall, I think they’ll be a little better, but still in the 10-6 range. They’ll be one of the wildcard teams.
New York Giants
2014 Record: 6-10 (Pythagorean Wins: 7.5)
2014 Division Rank: 3rd (My prediction: 4th)
2014 Injury Rank: 32nd
2015 Age Rank: 25th
2014 DVOA Overall (O/D/ST): 21st (15th / 25th / 15th)
This is a better team than I expected, and better than their 6-10 record. Part of that is no one quite realized how good Odell Beckham, Jr. really is. Like that was one of the best rookie seasons a WR has ever had. Forget ‘The Catch,’ look at the rest of his season and you’ll be amazed. He’s gonna suck to play against year after year.
Despite him, this was an average offense. I predicted their OLine would give them trouble and it did. I predict their OLine will continue to hamper this offense. Eli Manning has proven, year after year, that he is hampered by pressure more than most QBs. He makes up for that for being more efficient than most in clean pockets. They did draft Ereck Flowers, but I’m not sold on him. We’ll see.
My expectation is that Beckham will have an even better year, and this team will hit a bunch of homers. However, they’ll not sustain many drives and end up being average again.
Last year I predicted Jason Pierre-Paul would return to glory and this defense would be much better. I was sort of right. He had a very good year, but there were still a lot of holes. Now we have no idea what he’ll be able to do after blowing off his index finger on July 4th.
This was an unlucky team in 2014. They finished 1.5 games below their Pythagorean record and were 32nd in the NFL in terms of injuries.
Normally, I’d look at that and be optimistic for the team the following year. However, they’re fairly old. JPP is a major question mark. Victor Cruz has been iffy already. Their luck does not seem to be changing.
2014 Record: 4-12 (Pythagorean Wins: 4.5)
2014 Division Rank: 4th (My prediction: 3rd)
2014 Injury Rank: 24th
2015 Age Rank: 17th
2014 DVOA Overall (O/D/ST): 28th (28th / 27th / 29th)
What a model of consistency. Look at those DVOAs by group. Impressive, Washington, impressive.
And it’s not going to get better.
Could they have mismanaged the RG3 situation any more than they did? Unfortunately, I think RG3’s career is essentially over, though he’ll get another shot somewhere. Concussions will force him to retire soon, and I lay some of that blame on Jay Gruden.
Is Kirk Cousins a better QB than RG3? Maybe in this offense. I can’t see him being great, though. They’ll run some, but a decent OLine and Alfred Morris. Overall, this offense might improve some, but not much.
I don’t see the defense improving. Ryan Kerrigan is a useful supporting piece but not an All-Pro type player.
They haven’t drafted well of late either. I like Brandon Scherff, but they had better picks at that point in the draft, given that a 4-12 team is guaranteed to have a lot of holes.
4-12 is a good expectation here.