2016 Finish: Dallas, New York, Washington, Philadelphia
Overall Notes: This is the best division in football and it’s no contest. Look at their DVOAs, with the highest being 9th. And I think all the teams might have gotten better. Sheesh. They’ll beat each other up and might prevent the others from getting into the wildcard, though I think at least one of the wildcards will come from here.
2016 Record: 13-3 (Pythagorean Wins: 11.0)
2016 Division Rank: 1st
2016 Injury Rank: 16th
2017 Age Rank: 17th
2016 DVOA Overall 2nd (O/D/ST): (3rd / 18th / 9th)
This was a great team last year. It was one of the best offenses around, had an average defense, and played good special teams. There’s a lot of uncertainty, but this team could be even better if things break right.
The biggest question mark is the status of Ezekiel Elliott. I won’t comment on the case, other than to say I expect there to be an injunction tomorrow and the case taking all year. He may serve the suspension, but not until next year.
The offense is loaded. One of the question marks is whether Dak Prescott will have a sophomore slump. This is wishful thinking. People have tried to suggest that last year was a fluke, but there’s nothing in the statistics that suggests that to be true. He was not a dink and dunk QB, as shown by the length of his passes. He was one of the best at limiting interceptable passes. He made good decisions and attacked the defense successfully. That will continue.
The WRs are fantastic and deep. The RBs other than Elliott are pretty good. The TEs are solid. The offensive line has a couple of question marks but I think it’ll be even better than last year by the end of the year.
The defense is chock full of moving parts and questions. Many announcers see this and the lack of a star other than possibly Sean Lee, leading them to think this is a bad defense. It’s not. It’s average, but it can be even better. They lost a lot of snaps from last year’s team, but none of those snaps came from top tier players. They replaced them with young, unproven players and while they’ll make mistakes, they’ll do better at the end of the year.
I can see this defense be dominating, yes dominating, at the end of the year. I can also see it lose a game or two, especially at the beginning of the year where there are so many more question marks.
13-3 is hard to repeat though. I think the Cowboys will be better and finish with an 11-5 record. This will win the division and make them the 2nd seed.
2016 Record: 8-7-1 (Pythagorean Wins: 8.3)
2016 Division Rank: 3rd
2016 Injury Rank: 28th
2017 Age Rank: 15th
2016 DVOA Overall 9th (O/D/ST): (5th / 25th / 13th)
The Redskins are the inverse of the Giants. It’s a great offense with Kirk Cousins and a number of excellent targets in Terrelle Pryor, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder, and Jordan Reed (if he can stay healthy). They run well enough, and I did not want them to get Samaje Perine. Trent Williams makes that line at least solid.
Will the defense improve? I think so, with additions like Jonathan Allen, Terrell McClain, Fabian Moreau, and Ryan Anderson. It won’t improve much, but get more in the 16th range. League average, in other words.
This was a good team last year. I think it’s better this year, especially since I think they’ll be healthier. I think they are definitely 10-6, maybe 11-5 and a wildcard team.
New York Giants
2016 Record: 11-5 (Pythagorean Wins: 8.8)
2016 Division Rank: 2nd
2016 Injury Rank: 7th
2017 Age Rank: 9th
2016 DVOA Overall 8th (O/D/ST): (22nd / 2nd / 11th)
The only way I see this team dropping off is if Eli Manning does dramatically worse. I would actually be surprised, even though he’s 36. He was mediocre at best last year, anyway. The offense looks better than it is because of Odell Beckham, Jr. and some big plays. However, they’re very inconsistent and Manning threw 16 interceptions, which is bad but about his norm. The offensive DVOA reflects that. Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram will help, but I doubt they’ll get any better in real terms.
However, the defense is young and great. I want to find a reason for the defense to take a step back. I can’t find it. They are on their downward curve, but closer to their peak than retirement. They may drop a bit, but only to 5th in defensive DVOA.
This team will do really well again. They’ll have a few more injuries than last year, I suspect, but at least 9-7. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re 10-6 and a wildcard team.
2016 Record: 7-9 (Pythagorean Wins: 9.0)
2016 Division Rank: 4th
2016 Injury Rank: 4th
2017 Age Rank: 23rd
2016 DVOA Overall 5th (O/D/ST): (20th / 4th / 2nd)
Ah, the Eagles. They’ve added some help on offense for Carson Wentz, but not as much as people think. I was not a fan of Wentz last year. He didn’t play as well as many people think, but he was very good for a rookie. I think he’ll be better, but I don’t see the offense improving much.
The defense was great and got a lot of help in the draft. I was not happy with their draft, though not all of it will arrive this year with Sidney Jones’s injury. Still, Derek Barnett and Rasul Douglas will add some youth to the defense.
The one place where I see the Eagles regressing is on Special Teams, and that’s in part because Darren Sproles is 34. He’ll fall of a cliff soon, though he’s been a fantastic player.
I think the Eagles will take an overall step back, but not by much. They’ll still have a 7-9 record or so, but that’ll match their Pythagorean.