It's late-April, so you know what that means: Time to panic about your favorite NFL team while also having optimism that even the Jaguars are going to win the Super Bowl.
A lot of things have happened over the last two months and a lot more shall happen next weekend during the NFL Draft, but sometimes you can't like see the whole forest and shit when you're staring at trees or something. Basically, you might have heard about the Rams trading up for a QB or the Panthers telling a star cornerback that they were just joshin' about the franchise tag, but it doesn't really matter who you add or who you lose -- what matters is the sum total of all your moves.
For example, the Giants may have changed head coaches and spent the empire in free agency but did it actually make them better?
Since I myself was not sure who got better and who got worse in the NFC, which should matter if you're a Seahawks fan and you want to know how good they are relative to the competition they need to, err, compete against, I decided to go down the list and give my opinion on each team's offseason thus far.
Are they better, worse, or should you just expect more of the same.
Redskins - Better
I hesitate to say that Washington will improve because it's been over 10 years since any team repeated as NFC East champs and Kirk Cousins is due for some regression., but the GM is a proven commodity (helped rebuild Seahawks and 49ers) and they just signed Josh Norman. They also have a top-7 offensive line and the defense has nowhere to go but up, especially now.
Cowboys - Better
You have to assume full seasons from Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, and that alone could mean a division title for the Cowboys.
Eagles - Worse
Giants - Even
I know they spent the most money, but I'm not convinced that Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins aren't overrated to begin with. In that case, they'd also be overpaid. Damon Harrison seems like a good signing too but when you just start plugging in a bunch of new players, you have no way of knowing if it will even work. You also don't have to assume that Victor Cruz will ever be healthy again or that Ereck Flowers will ever be good. The Giants are a microcosm of a melting pot within America's microcosm of a melting pot and their potential outcomes in 2016 range from four wins to 10 wins.
Vikings - Worse
They were playing way over their heads at 11-5 last season so in order to match that record or get better, they would have had to have had a really good offseason. They haven't. Not that they did anything particularly bad, but Minnesota didn't make any significant moves to improve their weaknesses: Teddy Bridgewater is a little below-average, their receivers are bad, Matt Kalil isn't a left tackle, Trae Waynes won't justify his draft position, Adrian Peterson is 31.
Packers - Even
They should have Jordy Nelson back, but how effective will he be? I said going into last year that the Packers were overrated and sure enough, they played soft and had little chance of winning the NFC -- Still, they can be dangerous despite their weaknesses and that's what we saw in the playoffs against Arizona. I think next year Green Bay will again be a team capable of beating anyone and being beaten by anyone, coming out with 10-12 wins.
Lions - Even
You can't replace Calvin Johnson with Marvin Jones and tell me that you're better, but the Lions are close to having elite talent at all three levels on defense (Zeke Ansah, DeAndre Levy, Glover Quin), plus a great quarterback (sometimes) and a very solid offensive line. I could see Detroit winning 12 games next season but because they are the Lions, they could also fall back to the basement.
Bears - Better
I actually think the GM will prove to be a pretty good one, plus they don't just add their 11th overall pick this season, but the 7th overall pick (Kevin White) from last season. John Fox improved by four wins in his second season with the Panthers and five wins in his second season with the Broncos. Chicago is a sleeper playoff team in the NFC, for sure.
Panthers - Worse
You know you saw this coming.
They get back Kelvin Benjamin but they lost Norman, and now the secondary might actually just be one of the worst in the league. They probably should have won 11 or 12 games last season and now that might be their ceiling for 2016, with a range of 8-10 wins being very possible.
Falcons - Better
Alex Mack, Mohamed Sanu, and Courtney Upshaw were all good, underrated signings. Plus, Vic Beasley is going into his key "sophomore season" for pass rushers and they'll add another one in the draft this year -- don't be surprised if they also trade up. The Falcons started 6-1 last season and then lost five games by four points or less. I think Atlanta is a good bet to win the South.
Saints - Even
Just because the defense was one of the worst ever last season, it doesn't mean they're going to get better next season. Not super impressed with their draft history under Mickey Loomis or their offseason so far, plus it's another year closer to retirement for Drew Brees.
Buccaneers - Better
A lot of good young players from last season now have one more year of experience, including Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, Donovan Smith, and Kwon Alexander. They re-signed Doug Martin and brought in Brent Grimes. I think 8-8 is safely in their wheelhouse.
Cardinals - Better
Everything is relatively the same (swap out Jonathan Cooper for Evan Mathis) but the Cards added Chandler Jones, and pass rush was one of their only weak spots a year ago. So I think they definitely look better on paper, though I don't see how they do better than their 13-3 record from last season. I mean, that's as much as you can ever hope for, especially for a team like the Cardinals who had never even won 12 games in a season before. If Carson Palmer is healthy, or if he hasn't hit the sharp decline that many 37-year-old QBs experience, then 11 to 13 wins is about right.
49ers - Worse
Even if they had a quarterback, they don't have any receivers for him to throw to or good enough protection to keep him upright. The defense could be okay, especially if they use their first round pick on a player from that side of the ball, but the 49ers are still in the same mess they were a year ago.
Rams - Even
The good is that Jared Goff should be an upgrade over what they had at QB last year (though not by as much as some people think, especially as a rookie going against the Arizona and Seattle defenses), Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree should be healthy, and the offensive line could be kinda good. The bad is that they have to replace Jenkins and James Laurinaitis, the receiving corps are still bad, and it's hard to imagine Todd Gurley having much bigger impact than he did a year ago when the offense was dead last in total yards. The Rams might win eight games for the first time since 2006, but I don't think it'll go any higher than that. It could go much lower though because that's just what the Rams do sometimes.
Seahawks - Worse
I think it's because of this section that I'm going to have to avoid the comments on this article.
Let me first say that after the draft and a little more time, that I think the Seahawks could definitely look a lot better on paper. So far the positives are that they'll have a lot more stability at running back this season and be much better in the secondary if Jeremy Lane and Tharold Simon are healthy. I think that the loss of J.R. Sweezy is not a loss at all, but there's a potential for all kinds of swings at left tackle due to Garry Gilliam replacing Russell Okung -- could be worse, could be the same, could even be better!
I think Doug Baldwin is due to come back to Earth a little bit, though his chemistry with Russell Wilson could definitely make him a regular 1,000-yard receiver, just like he was a year ago, so at best I think he'll stay right where he is. The supposed return of Jimmy Graham could mean anything. They must find a replacement for Bruce Irvin, as well, and I think much like with the center position last year, they're sort of just taking some shots but don't have a very definitive plan for what they're going to do there and we saw how that turned out at center.
Seattle went 10-6 last year. Could I see them going 13-3? Yes. Could I see them going 7-9? No, not really. I think their realistic range right now is between 9 wins (if a few important things go wrong) and 13 wins (if a few important things go right) and probably 11.5 wins at the range of what I actually expect. If it looks like they have a great draft though, or add a key piece in late-year free agency, then you have to readjust, but right now I do think the Seahawks are working their way back up from a few losses rather than having shown any serious improvements so far.