Scramble for the Ball: 2020 East Over/ Unders Bryan Knowles 12 Aug 2020, 11:25 am

New York Jets QB Sam Darnold and New York Giants QB Daniel Jones

Andrew: Hello and welcome to Scramble for the Ball, where we are pleased to report that none of your friendly Football Outsiders staff opted out of the season prior to Thursday’s deadline. Neither did the unfriendly ones, for that matter. A full roster symbolizes another season of the same high-quality analysis from the rest of the Outsiders, and another season of the same inane warblings in this here column.

Bryan: Just as the professional football world maintains chugging, boldly and/ or stubbornly, towards a 2020 season filled with uncertainty, Scramble restrains going along. And what better space to celebrate football’s potential return than by looking at the two worst splits in the sport?

Andrew: That’s a emphatically bleak road to introduce the fractions that have given us three of the past four Super Bowl endorses, an all-time great run by a previously moribund franchise, a recent quarterback MVP, and some of the league’s most intriguing subplots over the past offseason.

Bryan: Oh, I didn’t say not interesting; I said worst. Sometimes, looking at the least qualified crews, at least on paper, is more interesting than looking at the prohibitive favourites. And if our goal is to try to predict Super Bowl champions from previous seasons, I visualize my stumble proportion is going to go way up this year.

Andrew: More interesting than looking at the favourites, you say? Let’s dive claim in, then.

Note: “Last Over” and “Last Under” below directory the last time each crew went over this year’s over/ under number.


Andrew: Remember when this was the most irregular subdivision in the athletic? The 2014 division-champion Cowboys completed a four-season run in which every dealership in the separation won it accurately once. Washington won it the following year, but it has been very much haves and have-nots since.

Bryan: For the last three years, the story of the division has been Philadelphia and Dallas swapping first and second place, while New York and Washington flail and try to remain relevant. The oddsmakers foresee much the same, as does Football Outsiders Almanac 2020, where both the Cowboys and Eagles are in the top 10 in projected DVOA, while the Giant and the, uh, Football Team am much not.

I do think there’s more interest now than that, though. I think what you’re looking at in the NFC East is the division with the lowest floor in football. There’s reason to hope in all four cities — some more than others, certainly — but I think this is the division that has the ugliest compounding of possible sequels if the bottom autumns out entirely.

Andrew: You know, for somebody who agrees that the NFC is the stronger conference right now, you sure are bleak about perfectly half of the project team, between this week’s introduction and last week’s look at the North.

Bryan: We’re saving the best for last and second-last; I’ve gotta save up all my NFC praisin’ for the last two over/ unders we have. The NFC may be the stronger conference, but it certainly isn’t an evenly distributed one!

For what it’s worth, I’m not recurring my NFC North claim that there won’t be a 10 -win team now; I foresee either of the two favorites are capable of producing a solid, championship-contender run, the Giant could see themselves in the wild-card race, and Washington will dally some football, too. But I can look into my worst-case crystal ball and find possible fractures everywhere.

Andrew: In all such cases, starting with( and this may be passionately debated !) the strongest team in the schism gives you a chance to get your extreme pessimism in early.

Dallas Cowboys( 9.5)

Last Over: 2018( Head Coach: Jason Garrett; Quarterback: Dak Prescott) Last Under: 2019( Jason Garrett, Dak Prescott)

Andrew: The Cowboys have won the division twice in the past four years, should definitely have established that three times last year, and have recorded precisely one losing record since 2011 — 2015, in which Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden, and Kellen Moore started 12 recreations between them.

Bryan: This is the toughest line in the division for me, as 9-7 vs. 10 -6 represents the difference between a wild-card team or weak division champion and the object at which “were starting to” get legitimately strong squads participating the postseason. I don’t feel the worst-case scenario is too hard to imagine — the Cowboys have a brand-new tutor and new offense thinking for the first time since, what, 2007? Mike McCarthy has supplanted Jason Garrett, and it can take time for a team to adjust to a brand-new tutor and his new strange paths, from the far-off land of Wisconsin. Couple that with the continued uncertainty about Dak Prescott’s future, and this might be a bit of a transitional year … though one that I don’t imagine goals up with a losing record by any stretch of the imagination; the roster is too talented for that.

Andrew: Ah, the roster is too talented for that. Hasn’t that become pretty much the Cowboys’ tagline in recent seasons? Every single year, we read that the Cowboys are too talented to be as middling as they are. I wonder what a certain former premier manager would have made of those statements. You are what your record says you are, and all that.

From what I’ve seen and examined, as about as remote an intruder as there is, it sounds like McCarthy’s looking to adjust as much to what the Cowboys do on pique as he is bringing his own notions. Regardless of any transition period, and understanding how disparaged McCarthy became by the end of his tenure in Green Bay, it’s precisely difficult for me to see almost any head coach as a downgrade from Jason Garrett.( Former Patriots coordinators is no requirement apply .)

Bryan: I do contemplate Packers fans were too down on McCarthy by the end of his tenure there, though it was time for both squad and coach-and-four to move on. Sometimes, a change of scenery is what everyone needs for a squad to regain its competitive shoot and for a instruct to rise to new challenges — encounter Andy Reid and the Eagles, who intent up both bringing residence championships after their long successful tenancy together.

I think it’s a very positive sign that McCarthy seems to understand what he has in Prescott and isn’t going to try to “fix” or reshape him into a predefined carton. The dude led the league in DYAR last season! What he was doing was working just fine before! It’s the justification that has made Dallas down , not the offense, and I do mull, in the end, McCarthy’s a good enough coach not to mess up what was working just fine. He’ll probably imparting some of the up-tempo substance he did in Green Bay, which I contemplate will help the Cowboys face simpler coverages, but it’ll be mostly the stuff they were already do, simply with more vim and vigor.

Andrew: Even the security is hardly fatal. Their 2018 and 2019 renditions mostly cancel each other out to make a pretty much average unit. They might have the best linebacker group in the game, which is I suspects noteworthy but not difference-making like it might have been in another era. Their large-hearted front-seven adds-on came in from Carolina, which is a bit like buying emissions testers from Volkswagen, but this isn’t the millstone contingent of the late-Romo era. Demarcus Lawrence is still here, and the loss of Jeff Heath is addition by subtraction.

Bryan: Losing Robert Quinn and Byron Jones will hurt, and I think we’ve both had ordeal being burned by “Mike Nolan will come in and fix the security! ” I think the Cowboys’ defense has to be more aggressive to match up in 2020, and with more aggressivenes comes more potential for coverage explosions, and so on and so forth. Again, the prospects for the bottom to fall out is there.

Andrew: Fun fact: Mike Nolan has coordinated a top-1 2 DVOA defense at least one season everywhere he has been a coordinator other than Washington. He was merely the linebackers guy in New Orleans, and yes he flopped quite badly as a manager coach-and-four in San Francisco. If there is potential for the justification to fall apart, there is also potential for it to be considerably better. Between Nolan and McCarthy, I’d say the Cowboys are in relatively solid mitts, even if they’re hardly likely to be at the forefront of coaching innovation. Even the bottom falling out, for me, merely looks like 7-9. There’s not a huge amount of downside on this schedule.

Bryan: It’s withhold Kellen Moore that helps swing my vote. Moore helped imparting Jason Garrett’s pique into the 21 st century, and he’ll probably be the regular playcaller in 2020. That has always been McCarthy’s biggest weakness as an offensive tutor, and Moore allows him to focus on the bigger picture issues like pace and aggressiveness and trying to convince his owned to sign his dealership quarterback to a long-term deal, what on Earth are you doing, Cowboys. I may be cynical about their long-term future, but I’m taking the over for the Cowboys for now.

Andrew: As I recollect most of this has probably given away, I’m right there with you. This looks like the most likely division champion for me, as the team with the highest floor. If any squad comes out of this separation with more than 10 wins, I think it’s Dallas, and I could quite easily picture a track to 12 -4 if the manager manager is as much of an amend as he is advisable to. Under nine triumphs? The listing is too talented for that. Over.

New York Giants( 6.5)

Last Over: 2016( Ben McAdoo, Eli Manning) Last Under: 2019( Pat Shurmur, Daniel Jones)

Bryan: The polemic for the Giants’ floor isn’t very hard to induce — the Heavyweight have been bad for a very long time, and why should we expect anything else? Daniel Jones fails to make the next step, Dave Gettleman’s lack of a coherent strategy fails to build a foundation for a triumphing football team, Joe Judge is the latest Bill Belichick assistant to flop when asked to fly on his own, the team topples to 2-14, and we start everything all over again.

Andrew: The arguing for the ceiling is much, much harder. You suggested that they could see themselves as a wild-card contender, which I predict is hedged just enough — most units will believe in themselves to that extent — but it seems outlandishly optimistic. Jones is at best the third-best quarterback in the schism if Alex Smith can’t make it back onto the field, and quite possibly the fourth if Smith can. This might be the worst linebacker corps in football, and linebacker’s much more of a drawback as a weakness than it is an asset as a strength.

Instead, the Giants’ strength might be the only thing less impactful than linebacker: running back, where Saquon Barkley is at least a genuine difference-maker. They haven’t done anything to really address their Barkley-and-the-slots passing game, I’m less than convinced by their front seven, their left undertake opted out( attend aforementioned greenback on “addition by subtraction” ), and their remaining secondary done a lot of hope and not much expectation. I could see the Giants being sufficiently better than Washington to stay out of the division’s basement, but I don’t assure where seven prevails come on this schedule.

Bryan: I approximate I simply don’t get what the dealership is doing. You now have a coach in his first time on a crew that’s starved for knack at multiple arranges; it was necessary to the first time of a rebuilding process for Judge. And hitherto you have a general manager entering his third season, who is under a direct, public succession from ownership to win more games, and to win them now. Your coaching staff and front office are operating under different expectations, rather than in lockstep, and that’s never good. That’s one of the things that saved the Browns in torment for so long; shoot the coach-and-four and keep the GM, then burn the GM and keep the coach, never get a clean start. We exactly has spoken about how we’re confident about the Cowboys’ offense now that Jason Garrett’s vanish, but Garrett’s going to be calling plays in New York( for the first time since 2012, I should contribute, when he had that responsibility divested away from him ). I don’t reckon Cowboys fans are worried with Garrett on the opposite sideline!

The big question mark is Jones, who was better than I expected when he was allowed to drop quickly and get the ball out of his hands — by which I imply with the forward pass , not his issues with fumbling. The ability to play well in pattern is an important skill, which contribute to him being the second-most impressive rookie quarterback last year. The problem is, he crumbles when pressured or asked to stay in the pocket for longer than a duo seconds. He has a Favreian trust in his arm, which is good, but not the Favreian ability to represent those gunslinging decisions actually labour. These are things that can improve in Year 2, but I’m pessimistic.

And then on justification, they lost their one good plaster corner in DeAndre Baker to the commissioner’s exempt list, and I’m not sure James Bradberry moves the needle enough for me as a substitution. I don’t speculate Blake Martinez substantially facilitates that linebacker problem you’ve mentioned there, and the general churn on security feels like treading water rather than noticeable improvements( though I will say I like rookie Xavier McKinney quite a bit ).

If Jones can take that step forward, and if the offensive ability position cases play up to what they did last year, and if the offensive thread stays intact, and if the security takes a moderate step forward, I could see 9-7, which might even win the segment if the worst-case scenarios happen in Dallas and Philadelphia. That’s a lot of ifs for one run-on sentence, though. Under.

Andrew: It’s a lot of ifs for a squad that hasn’t hitherto demo any reason to give them the benefit of any skepticism, extremely. Jones may have impressed some in certain facets of the passing game, but he still has a long way to go. He might be the kind of guy you could get enough out of if you positioned a squad around him, but I recognize very little evidence the Giants have said and done. I can see 6-10, with a strong aroma of 5-11. 5-11 is far more likely to me than 8-8, which entails the downside is larger than the upside. Under.

Philadelphia Eagles( 9.5)

Last Over: 2017( Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz) Last Under: 2019( Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz)

Bryan: Alright, so I have a theory which, like all my best conjectures, will crumble under the slightest cross-examination. The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles each believe that they have the other’s quarterback situation. Dallas is reluctant to lock Dak Prescott up for the long term, as if he was a promising player who twinkles greatness but has not yet put together a terminated season of huge frisk. Philadelphia already has fastened Carson Wentz up for the long term, as if he had had multiple top-five seasons in DYAR and DVOA under his belt as a track record.

Andrew: I think you’re being a little unkind to Wentz there, who was an MVP favorite in 2017 until his coincidence knee injury, and has depleted a little too much time since rehabbing many things. I’ll concede that with Wentz, nonetheless, you should probably make sure your backup situation is solid — he has reminded me of Ben Roethlisberger for a variety of reasons, that being one. Fortunately, the Eagles did just that in the draft this year. So I suspect my question is, which of those situations would you prefer to be in?

Bryan: For 2020, or for the foreseeable future? Because those are very different answers.

Andrew: Take each in turn.

Bryan: For 2020, I’m agitated if I’m Philadelphia. Wentz’s 2017 MVP-candidate season was sharp-worded, but he hasn’t transcended 10.0% DVOA in any of his other three seasons. I’d be more comfy with him on his fifth-year option, only to made to ensure that after a( relatively) healthy offseason, he can be the chap he was in Year 2 is again. I’m also concerned that I don’t have the best offensive direction protecting him after Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles. I worry that I still don’t have the receivers to make the most of his flair, even after including Jalen Reagor in the draft and coming DeSean Jackson back from gash. I don’t think they drafted Jalen Hurts in the second round simply to shore up their backup quarterback statu, is what I’m saying.

For the future, I’m much happier as an Eagles fan. Even if Wentz is just a bottom-of-the-top-1 0 guy instead of the MVP-level player he was as a sophomore, I’ve came him locked up and can improve the rest of my team accordingly with my better front office. I don’t think there’s even much of a question: the Eagles definitely have their 2021 quarterback on the roster barring a big accident; the Cowboys may not yet.

I have to give Doug Pederson full credit for taking a team that by the end of the year was down to backups, practice-squadders, and couch-sitters at the ability positions and passing them into the postseason. That’s a hell of a coaching job, both by him and by Jim Schwartz in navigate their pretty terrible injury luck to produce a commonly competitive team.

Andrew: One that appears to have improved this offseason too, even before accounting for actors they get back( although as you mention, the loss of Brooks looms enormous ). Darius Slay is an excellent addition to a secondary that has had its ups and downs in recent seasons. Javon Hargrave should compute a great deal to the defensive front. Jatavis Brown isn’t a world-beater, but he’s good enough to play at the level they need.( Or at least he was — he retired the day after I wrote this. Score another tag against my prophecies record .)

Bryan: Who starts across from Slay, though? Because whoever it is is going to be targeted approximately a zillion times, and I don’t trust Sidney Jones or Jalen Mills or Avonte Maddox to hold up under that height of adversity. You say ups and downs, but this feels like a real down this year.

Andrew: It’s considerably better than having those participates and no Slay, which is how gobs of last-place season went.

Bryan: I thoughts I started a game for Philadelphia at corner at some phase; that’s how desperate they were for healthy bodies.

Andrew: Yet they still prevailed nine activities and the fraction, though a lot of that had to do with a certain non-Eagles coach we’ve mentioned in every team segment still further. The Eagles still get Washington and the Heavyweight this year, which should entail four earns off the at-bat. It’s the rest of the schedule that will meet or end their season.

Bryan: The post-bye schedule for the Eagle is rough, rough, bumpy. You have the Seahawks, Packers, Saints, Cardinals, and Cowboys all in a row, plus a two-game road trip to New York and Cleveland looming right before that. I could imagine the Eagles entering the bye at 6-2 and finishing 2-6 without too much effort. I don’t think they have the horses on the outside, offensively or defensively, and I think that’s going to hurt them.

Andrew: I’d make 5-3 and 3-5, but that’s splitting “hairs-breadths”. It sounds like we’re mainly on the same page, as ever.

Bryan: I think my “worst-case” is a little worse than yours( 6-10 and a top-1 0 pick !), but our overall inferences, as ever, remain the same. Under.

Andrew: That know it sounds a smidge too pessimistic. I anticipate I peg worst case at 7-9 with some reason to expect a 2021 rebound, but I don’t hear a great deal of area for the over here unless Wentz is back on 2017 organize. I’m not going to gamble on that, necessitating my expected outcome is probably 9-7. It’s not a big under on what is a very fair line, but it is an under.

Washington Football Team( 5.5)

Last Over: 2018( Jay Gruden, Alex Smith) Last Under: 2019( Bill Callahan, Case Keenum)

Andrew: The who’s this what-now? WFAT?

Bryan: I don’t get how there wasn’t a folder in a drawer some region differentiated “in case of emergency, here’s our rebranding strategy.” Washington’s aged identify had been an issue in Native circles since the 1940 s, in the general public’s eye since the 1970 s, and in the courtroom since the 2010 s. How do you not have an emergency plan for things going south in a hurry? Add in last month’s Washington Post story about the noxious culture in Football Team’s headquarters and the recent Derrius Guice arrest, and I think we’ve received the team with the worst offseason in football.

Damn, but those new uniforms look sharp, though.

Andrew: “Worst offseason in football” isn’t precisely uncharted territory for this franchise, either. Hubris and myopia are a heck of a compounding. Nonetheless, that torrid offseason likewise gives me the most hope I’ve had for the future of this franchise since Robert Griffin’s rookie year. I have gigantic respect for Ron Rivera, which had just been grow the summer months, and we can always dream that maybe, just perhaps, this might signal a change in course for the most difficult professional football right outside Ohio.

That hope is, unhappily, unlikely to amount to much on the field in 2020.

Bryan: Last week, I joked that we were looking at seven units that could, if the chippings descended right, triumph their fraction, and then also the Cincinnati Bengals. Well, I’m sorry to all long-term Football Teamians out there, but same joke, different franchise.

Not that there’s no hope. Dwayne Haskins was the least-accurate passer of 2019, but he made significant steps forward in his last-place four starts. Contributing Chase Young to the defensive text is a huge boost, and there was already a lot of knack in that breast seven, if not always the production to back it up. Terry McLaurin was a pleasant surprise as a rookie and, uh, I expect Washington will have other talent primacy musicians, very. I represent, probably. All that potential could see them go all the way … to, like, 7-9, perhaps, in one of Rivera’s best coaching jobs to date.

Andrew: Alternatively, the security is nice enough but the offense is an utter mudheap, headlined by a 35 -year-old running back behind a line that precisely sold apart its best actor( albeit one who doesn’t relatively prepare as a loss from last-place season ), with precisely one pass-catcher who should be starting recreations at this height and a quarterback who isn’t good enough to compensate. 3-13 is far from unrealistic.

Bryan: I believe the long-term impact of Rivera will be fewer players breathing sorrows of relief when they get out of the impasse that is the Football Team’s headquarters, but that will take a year or two to settle in.

There is one, looming, all-encompassing question I have about Washington, however, and hopefully we can figure that out right here: is it funnier to refer to them like a squad from an ‘8 0s unlicensed video game, talking about “QB Washington” and “RB Washington? ” Or like an English football club; “Washington FT.” If it’s the latter, it ain’t a Premier League team; it’s a Championship squad trying their damndest to stay out of League One. Or is it funnier only to use the Football Team nickname as far as is possible, as I’ve been striving to do to this point?

Andrew: Go Team!

Bryan: Hail to the Football Team! Hail Victory! Players on a ballfield! Contend for genericity!

Andrew: Under.

Bryan: Under.


Andrew: Are we continuing make the aged copy-paste “most boring division, Patriots always acquire, blah blah blah” intro now?

Bryan: Oh , no , no , no. It’s a brand-new paradigm now! This is the most exciting the AFC East race has been since … well, since the AFC East looks like it does now, really. Or at least since Mark Sanchez was a thing. We was just so naive back then.

If the NFC East was the division with the lowest floor, I belief the AFC East is the division with the lowest ceiling. With the possible exception of Miami, I don’t genuinely encounter any crew in the separation cratering out this year, in part because they all get to play one another. And yet, I have a hard time stumping for most of ’em to do anything particularly relevant.

Andrew: Oh, I don’t know, I always consider it entirely possible that an Adam Gase team could crater out. Now I recognize that they don’t tend to do so, perhaps because as it turns out cratering out is almost as difficult as paying a bye-bye, but its full potential is definitely there.

Bryan: A fair quality, well insisted. OK, maybe three of the four squads could crater out, as there’s no deficit of questionable competence to go around. What here i am, nonetheless, is a shortage on confidence, with the main difference between 2020 and previous years is that some of that drought is hitting Foxborough as well. Still; should be a fun race to the transcend!

Buffalo Bills( 9)

Last Over: 2019( Sean McDermott, Josh Allen) Last Under: 2018( Sean McDermott, Josh Allen)

Andrew: Are you one of the crazies who anticipates the Buffalo Bills are the team with the highest ceiling in the division, or is that still the Darth Hoodie Death Star?

Bryan: I will say that Josh Allen has improved to the point where he can’t thumped the broad side of a barn, as opposed to his rookie season where he couldn’t punched the farm itself. Progress is progress! Allen was still the worst in the organization in ending percentage over expected on pass more than 15 grounds downfield at -6. 3 %, but that’s an improvement from 2018 when he was at -1 0.6%. He too actually became a positive passer in the intermediate recreation because — and stay with me because this is complicated — John Brown and Cole Beasley are professional receivers, while Zay Jones is a professional “watch the ball bounce off of my hands” … guy.

Andrew: The smartest thing the Bills front office has done is invest in one guy who is really really fast and good at tracking wayward deep guides, and one who is really really good at catching off-target underneath pass. Beasley’s drop highlights show that he wasn’t perfect, because no one maybe could be with Allen’s variety of possible aftermaths, but I am very impressed with the job the Bills did building around their quarterback…

… with the rather ginormous caveat that he is a quarterback they shouldn’t have been building around in the first place.

Bryan: In Football Outsiders Almanac 2020( cheap push !), Derrik Klassen argues that the Bills may have the best, most complete roster in the NFL, a prototype for all striving franchises to fight their way out of irrelevance and into dispute. required, of course, you play in a league with an all-time quarterback. And he’s not wrong.

Brown and Beasley are now joined by Stefon Diggs, so you have a receiving detachments that runs three-deep with tone musicians. I’m a fan of Devin Singletary; the offensive row has slew of upside. The security is a powerhouse, and they dodged the missile of Tre’Davious White considering opting out. They have our best mean defensive jutting, and by fairly some distance.

Andrew: In short, they’re a fascinating study in what happens when you pair the best roster in the schism with quite probably the worst quarterback in the partition. They’re the trendy pick for the AFC East title. They have several recent playoff appearances under their loops, though they still haven’t won a playoff game since January, 1996. They do, however, have a money line they’ve merely gone over once this century, and a cluster of potential regression points.

Bryan: So the big question is, is one weakness enough to sink a unit, even at the most important position in football? We’ve seen teams laded defensively succeeded with inadequate quarterback gambling — Blake Bortles and the Jaguars in 2017, Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago Bears in 2018. Like last year’s Bills, they journey immense defenses into promising postseason lopes, and continue to reap the benefits of that to this da–

… hrm, what was that? Oh.

This is a juiced boundary because the public checks a playoff squad last year and thinks the sky is the limit. With an Allen-shaped anchor, I guess I could talk myself into a push at 9-7, but not much more than that. To get to double-digit wins, Allen will have to duplicate his improvement from 2018 to 2019. And, again, I do need to be clear here — last year’s Josh Allen was path better than 2018 ‘s Josh Allen. If 2020 ‘s Josh Allen is better still, then yeah, maybe the Invoices are the division favourites. But … I imply, c’mon. Under, and I remember the easiest call this week( which symbolizes I’m guaranteed to be wrong, but hey .)

Andrew: There’s a huge amount to like in Buffalo, but the most important player on the roster is still the reason to rein in expectations. Adam Gase jokes digression, every crew in this division except New England should be better than it was last year. The schedule isn’t precisely a assortment of cupcakes. The Bills will probably acquire some activities I don’t expect them to. They will probably lose some recreations others don’t expect them to. At 9.5 winnings, I’d make the under. At 8.5, I’d make the over. Nine is just high enough that I imagine the downside outweighs the upside. Under.

Miami Dolphins( 6)

Last Over: 2018( Adam Gase, Ryan Tannehill) Last Under: 2019( Brian Flores, Ryan Fitzpatrick)

Bryan: Alright, so I uttered the joke that the Football Teaminites were the only one team we’re comprise the coming week that can’t triumph their fraction, so I believe I’m on the spot to try to explain how the Dolphins could be YOUR 2020 AFC East advocates. Curse my joking hubris.

So, the Tank for Tua was successful, but that doesn’t definitely mean that the Dolphins have to rush him into action. The best-case scenario for the Dolphins is probably Tua getting one more year to recover from his injury and giving the World’s Greatest Journeyman work his Fitzmagic one more time. The trio of Byron Jones, Xavien Howard, and Noah Igbinoghene( Did I sorcery that right first time? No, of course I did not .) renders the Dolphins what might be the best man-coverage corner group in the split, and I be considered that Brian Flores was a more creative defensive subconsciou than some other onetime Belichick auxiliaries currently shopping their defensive guru credentials to a fanbase growing progressively more dubious. The protection could take a significant step forward. I’m amazingly high on their running backs in Matt Breida and Jordan Howard. The wide receiver chamber is adequate. The offensive wire has three new drawing collects and some free agent possessions to bolster it. The coaching staff members and front office seem to be on the same page and making good, solid, logically consistent moves forward. Maybe everything gelatins together a year earlier than expected and the Dolphins can emerge from their tanking time in 2020 rather than 2021.

Oh, and Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Cam Newton all have horrific years. Did I forget to mention that? Because that’s probably as important, if not moreso, than anything Miami can do this year. I don’t investigate the Dolphins having a winning record, so they’ll need the rest of the backpack to crumble in towards them rather than

Andrew: It helps terribly that they is again have the Patriots in December, as whatever magical view they have over Belichick’s team in that month have already had proven immune to each of location, relative ability, and normality. The Bengals and Jaguars are winnable last-place schedule advantages, which could be enough to boost them from last season’s 5-11 all the way to … uh, 5-11.

This is still not a very good roster. The pass run last season was a laughingstock, and the players they’ve added don’t move the needle nearly enough for my tendency. The cornerbacks is all very well, but I’m not enamored with the refuges. The receivers are good, but I’m not in love with the offensive course. Fitzpatrick is just good enough to not get you eliminated too often. 5-11 was overachieving last-place season; this season, it’s right in line with my expectations.

Bryan: I’m very optimistic about the future of the Dolphins. Maybe I can get a parlay with that 2021 Vikings division championship I talked about last week. I just think expecting outcomes this season is a year too soon. Under.

Andrew: I can see a course to 7-9 if all divulges right. Everything terribly, very rarely divulges right for the Dolphins, and I can see 4-12 much more easily than 8-8. Under.

Newly England Patriots( 9)

Last Over: 2019( Bill Belichick, Tom Brady) Last Under: 2000( Bill Belichick, Drew Bledsoe)

Andrew: There are many, countless ways in which the Patriots are the anti-Browns, and this is just one more to add to the list. We satirized the Browns last week for not going over their 2020 cable in over a decade. The Patriots haven’t gone under theirs since the first season of the present millennium. Is this another “believe it when I see it” mark, or are we legitimately about to witness something historic?

Bryan: Well, we’re going to witness something historic either way. Either the Patriots have their first non-winning season since the Clinton administration, or they tie the apparently untouchable Landry Cowboys record with 20 consecutive win seasons. The Patriots came out as the top dynasty in NFL history when I did my offseason house rankings, and I informed beings then — horror movie icons tend to pop back up, even if you think you’ve visit the body.

Andrew: I’ve been burned by place faith in Cam Newton’s health before, but the thing is, that was a very different franchise, with a very different coaching staff, in a very different division. I’ve seen parties point to the Matt Cassel year, with its also very different circumstances, and I’m not sure I like this Patriots team to punched 11 -5 unless Cam really is capital-B Back. However, I too remember one of the craziest stats I’ve seen in this play, that Bill Belichick has a better win-loss record without Tom Brady than Mike McCarthy had with Aaron Rodgers, and I’m just not ready to write the obituary yet.

Bryan: Another reality that has to come into play here is COVID-1 9. For most squads in the tournament, the opt-out period was mostly uneventful — maybe one starter lost, or a few depth participates. But the Patriots had a league-high eight opt-outs, including Dont’a Hightower, Marcus Cannon, and Patrick Chung, who are three of the ten best players on the All-Opt-Out Select. That’s a substantial blow.

Andrew: However, COVID is also one of the factors in my appraisal here, because there is no team I trust more to handle the unique circumstances — the lack of fans, the crazy external statu, the prospects for massive disturbance, the probable restrictions on free agents and waiver pickups — and there has their musicians prepared and focused for every game than New England.

But there is no way the Patriots protection is anywhere near as good as they were a year ago. Zero chance. Not exclusively do you have regular regression , is not simply do you have the opt-outs, but you’re also missing Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, Danny Shelton, Duron Harmon, Elandon Roberts … without any real obvious off-roster replacements. Next subject up to the extreme.

Andrew: The roster turnover hurts a lot. I’m a fan of Marqise Lee, and his opt out is a bigger blow in my approximation than I expect in the eyes of most. That keeps their receiver situation remedial, absent-minded a breakout from N’Keal Harry. The protection has been furnishing for this in recent years, and the staff will now get an early look at their situation. Cam Newton, if healthful, can do things very few other musicians can do, and Belichick is the man to make sure he has those opportunities, but this is a tough question. Seeing an actual competitor of this listing would be Belichick’s finest coaching job in at least a decade.

Though on that note, the Patriots made a conference championship game with Reche Caldwell, 35 -year-old Troy Brown, and Doug Gabriel as their top wide receivers. If any staff can get that done, it’s this one.

Bryan: If Cam Newton is Cam Newton, I think there’s enough talent there on offense to make this work — and you’re right, the justification is furnished; they are prepared for this. I do have to wonder if Healthy Cam Newton is a thing we’ll ever envision again — like you said, we’ve been burned before. But the Patriots might have the best offensive and defensive coach-and-four in the division. They dragged Matt Cassel to an 11 -5 season, and that was without a full offseason of planning for life after Tom Brady.

Andrew: I’m unusually, very allured by the push here. It’s the coaching faculty that tips it for me. They not a million years ago won a game against a playoff hopeful with rookie third-stringer Jacoby Brissett running the option, for pity’s sake. If Newton is healthy, they’ll get everything they can from him, and if he isn’t, they’ll get everything they can from the next humankind up. Like they ever do. The maniacs. Over.

Bryan: This year’s Patriots have the lowest floor we’ve seen for a Patriots unit in decades, which represents 7-9. But c’mon, would anyone be surprised if it’s yet another 12 -4 season running around the little sisters of the AFC East? It’s a tough call for me, and I’d love the line if it was 8.5 or something( expletive you, whole number lines !), but I exactly can’t bring myself to say anything but Over until confirmed otherwise.

New York Sprays( 6.5)

Last Over: 2019( Adam Gase, Sam Darnold) Last Under: 2018( Todd Bowles, Sam Darnold)

Bryan: When I first was amassing these lines some weeks ago, I witnessed the Aircraft at 6.5 and contemplated, oh, that one should be an easy over at least; one less thing are concerned about. Then they lost their best two advocates, and now I have to think again. Thanks, Jets.

Andrew: I’m not sure how much losing a linebacker who missed almost all of last-place season and downgrading from Jamal Adams to Bradley McDougald truly changes my opinion of the Aircraft. It’s not that C.J. Mosley and Adams aren’t good players; they’re excellent. The Jets, nonetheless, proceeded 7-9 last season with Sam Darnold missing three of those losses with mononucleosis, they’ve overhauled the catastrophe of a line( though how much of an improve that is, if at all, is uncertain ), and they aren’t a squad that is entirely reliant on one or two difference-making players. No , not even their( again, excellent) onetime adept safety.

Bryan: I will say, turning a refuge who didn’t want to play for you anyway into two first-round picks and a substitution security is a hell of a carry; Running a Football Team 101 kind of stuff. I accept they cover “don’t alienate your ace participates to the point where they expect a trade” in Running a Football Team 201.

I do contemplate lopping the top two participates off of a security does make this a significantly tougher call. I was all ready to say the Jet was just an 8-8 squad with a revamped offense front and some brand-new artilleries for a health Sam Darnold, plus a defense positioned to jump into the top 10. And now that 1.5 -win cushion is in question! Bah.

Andrew: I think you have them just about pegged, with the caveat that I am very strongly Not A Fan of Adam Gase, and I’m of the opinion that he enormously restriction their upside. Nonetheless, absent-minded a disaster from Darnold, their downside doesn’t look that big either. I’d say their range is approximately 6-10 to 8-8, and I’d be most comfortable predicting a Fisher-esque repeat of 7-9. I don’t assure anybody on the Jet who’s going to step up and procreate them into a playoff team, but I don’t find any reason to expect a crumble either. McDougald was the only competent defensive back in Tampa Bay during their detrimental DVOA heyday, and proficiency is the hallmark of the Spurt listing. It’s not a ringing endorsement, but it is enough that I’m content to make the over.

Bryan: Now, you’ve employed me in a real bind, now. Because I do think, in the end, my( relative) optimism regarding the Jet isn’t injury fairly by the loss of Mosley and Adams to change my overall resolution. But, if I say that, then we will have agreed on eight out of eight units the coming week, and 15 out of 16 over the first two clauses. That’s a hive head and a half, even by our noble-minded standards.

Eh, dissenting for disagreement’s sake is what spawns First Take. I’ll take the over as well. Our audition for Fox Play 1 hasn’t gone well at all, I’m afraid.

We’ll have to go further afield to try to find actual sources of disagreement. Next week, our quest for different opinions will make us into the uncharted regions of the South, which supplemented possible Hall of Fame quarterbacks like they were going out of style. Will Bryan and Andrew ultimately find a partition they can’t agree on? Stay carolled next time, true-blue believers.


jets under

i’ve been able to peg the aircrafts pretty well since the hope of the Rexy era died. Last-place year’s record was against a weak schedule. Sam presented signs of better but that defense now has zero playmakers. Their ceiling in my head is 3 division earns, most probably 2. They face the two Wests without a layup activity in sight. If the line keeps health, protects sam maybe 7 triumphs? But more likely they start 0-3 and are hopeless heading toward a dwelling Thursday nighter vs Denver. Gase is fired after an 0-4 start, Williams coaches well like he did in the last interim period and the Jet procreate supporters see one more year of Sam is all we need! this schedule feels like 5-11 and an easy under.


I see it the same way ,…

In reply to jets under by Jetspete

I see it the same way, frisking out the same way. The sprays are bereft of perimeter actors on pique and defense; something tailor-make made to lose in the modern NFL. Per Ben Muth, the line was a soviet winter campaign like tragedy in terms of coordination despite being laden with ex-servicemen – a clear indictment of an inefficient coaching staff that remains coaching this team.

I am also leaning on the side of Darnell is a bust and Gase is not a good ability manager, a combination that usually spells fate for any team. In thinking it over, there are only a handful of teams that I can make a compelling case for being worse than the Aircraft; the Jags and the Panthers are the other two that spring to mind.

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