As part of my multi-part mega NFL preview I am going to review each team’s win totals, along with a preview of each division and an overall preview.
This year’s totals from the Las Vegas Hilton have been out for a while so it’s time for me to give them a look and see who stands out as over/under-achiever based on their win total.
1. Dallas Cowboys – 8 wins
They have been 8-8 for the last few years and as awesome as their offense looks this year, their defense looks conversely bad. They are transitioning into a 4-3 defense after years of running a 3-4. There is almost always a rough patch when making that switch because teams can’t acquire all the proper personnel right away. In addition to that, the Cowboys lost Sean Lee for the year due to a torn ACL. There is a severe lack of talent and skill in their defense and I just don’t think the offense can save them to salvage enough poor defense again this year.
2. Houston Texans – 7.5 wins
They just won two games last year, and they didn’t solve they’re quarterback problem. Their defense will probably play at a high level like it did last year but Ryan Fitzpatrick at starter means you aren’t winning more than seven games. The offense has only three play makers: Arian Foster, Andre Johnson (if he plays for them this year; he was holding out this off-season) and DeAndre Hopkins. Despite playing in the inferior AFC, I don’t think their win total is realistic, and they should have another top 10 draft pick next spring.
3. Oakland Raiders – 5 wins
Have you seen their schedule? They have to play the brutal NFC west this year and the sneaky good AFC east. That’s not including playing their tough division, all who which made the playoffs last year. They could steal one division game and play the Browns and Texans (possible wins), but other than that it looks bleak and I don’t think they will make it to 5 wins this year.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – 9 wins
I think this is too high for them for a variety of reasons. Firstly, their division imploded last year. Washington and New York were flaming disasters and were both irrelevant before the season was half over. Dallas hung in there till the end despite having the worst defense in NFL history, and still challenged Philadelphia down to the last game of the season. What does it say about the Eagles that they didn’t run away with this thing last year? To me, it says a lot of things about them. Firstly, the division can’t possibly be that crappy again, and it won’t be. Secondly, their defense still sucks. They finished dead last in pass defense last year and gave up the fourth most yards in general. I think they took a page out of the Washington 2012 playbook and got every possible break last year and I think they’ll regress to the mean this year.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers – 8.5 wins
It’s the half win that makes me not buy this number. I think that the Steelers are in a tough place organizationally right now. They have no cap flexibility, making them unable to sign worthwhile free agents and re-sign some of their own players. On top of that, the core of their team is getting old, and they haven’t exactly nailed their previous couple of drafts. It’s a situation where I expect the Steelers to be competitive but not good enough to break through in any significant way (similar to the Houston Rockets pre-James Harden). I think they are very much an 8-8 team, just like they were last year, and I don’t think they are an above .500 team which is why 8.5 wins is too much.
1. Washington Redskins – 7.5 wins
They have everything in place to have a strong season. Their offense looks top notch with the additions of receivers DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts to go with Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed. Alfred Morris has shown consistency through his career so far and I trust him to continue to shine. Robert Griffin III has now been a full year removed from his ACL injury and should lead this offense to good things. They get to play the worst division in football this year – the AFC south – and the rest of their division is still shaky. I think they can get to .500 and make this an easy over.
2. New England Patriots – 10.5 wins
The Patriots have won less than eleven games only three times in the thirteen seasons that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have worked together. Their division is still a big step behind them and they could still lose a couple hard games and go over this. I thought last year was the year it was over for them and they proved me wrong. I don’t think it’s this year either. The defense has more talent and will maintain the success they had last year – oh, and signing Darelle Revis doesn’t hurt. The offense is the question for me, but if the running game continues to carry the load and produces like it did last year they will be fine and get their 11 or 12 wins next year.
3. Indianapolis Colts – 9.5 wins
Their division is crap. Half their division drafted in the top 3 of last year’s draft. Andrew Luck is really good. They get to play their division 6/16 games. They swept their division last year. They get to play the worst division in the NFC this year: the NFC East. Andrew Luck is really good. They will win 10-12 games this year.
4. Baltimore Ravens – 8.5 wins
If they split their division, beat the three cream puffs in the AFC south (the AFC south plays the AFC north this year), and get three more wins against Atlanta, New Orleans, Miami, San Diego, Carolina and Tampa Bay, they go over on this. If they are really an improved football team and out of their post-Super Bowl funk they can do this and go over.
5. Chicago Bears – 8 wins
If Jay Cutler stays healthy (the big if), they can do this easily. They have 5 “tough” games on their schedule: Green Bay twice, New England, New Orleans and San Francisco. Every other game they play in I would have them as a favorite. I have been talking about how I think Jay Cutler is in for a big season, and I think their defensive line will play better with Lamarr Houston and Jared Allen on the team. If their defense can give their offense a little help, I think they can be an above .500 team.