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Assessing the other 15 teams in the NFC besides the Seahawks

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Philadelphia Eagles v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

I started writing this in the morning and I’ve been traveling a lot and I’m about to get on a plane from the Dominican Republic in two minutes. So I have to write this intro extremely quickly:

These are some notes about the other 15 NFC teams.

I didn’t do the same notes for the Seahawks.

I noted “Additions” and “Losses” but didn’t note literally every one. Just some important ones, I think. And because I note someone as a “Loss” it doesn’t mean that I think they were a good player. It could be a good loss. Don’t be that person.

These are some rough guesses of records, who knows what will happen. I’m sure mathematically my records wouldn’t make total sense. You can figure out the playoffs ... though I didn’t have time to double-check if I had six playoff teams — or if that includes Seattle.

Here it is! See you in a few hours!

Philadelphia Eagles

2017 record: 13-3

New Coaches: OC Mike Groh

Offensive Additions: TE Dallas Goedert (2nd round), WR Mike Wallace

Offensive Losses: RB LeGarrette Blount, TE Trey Burton, WR Torrey Smith

Injury Out: QB Carson Wentz will miss start of season, Alshon Jeffery will also miss Week 1

Injury In: RB Darren Sproles

Defensive Additions: DE Michael Bennett, DT Haloti Ngata

Defensive Losses: LB Mychal Kendricks, CB Patrick Robinson, DE Vinny Curry

Injury Out: DT Timmy Jernigan NFI

Injury In: CB Sidney Jones

Assessment:

I have thought all year that the Eagles won the Super Bowl a year earlier than they really “should” have, meaning that I think 2018 was always looking more like their year than 2017. However, they caught a pretty fortunate playoff schedule, gaining homefield advantage and facing Case Keenum in the NFC Championship. All credit to them for pulling it off, especially with Nick Foles, I was just surprised (like most) that they won the Super Bowl. It is of course a lot less surprising if they do it again, although no team has repeated in 14 years.

I think Philly could get off to an early lead in the NFC because they again catch a fortunate schedule, including just five road games between now and December 3, including one of which at Wembley Stadium against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Eagles’ strengths appear to be on the offensive and defensive lines, which led them to being third in scoring and fourth in points allowed last season. It would be hard for them to improve their point differential by much, but they were only eighth in offensive DVOA last season, fifth on defense, and 16th on special teams. Philadelphia is hoping for an early return of their star quarterback and a more efficient rushing attack with a full season of Jay Ajayi and the return of Sproles. Defensively, it’s about watching the defensive line after the additions of Bennett and Ngata to an already-elite unit.

Play the Seahawks? No

Predicted Record: 12-4

Playoffs: Yes

Atlanta Falcons

2017 record: 10-6

Offensive Additions: WR Calvin Ridley (1st), G Brandon Fusco

Offensive Losses: N/A

Defensive Additions: CB Isaiah Oliver (2nd), DT Terrell McClain

Defensive Losses: DT Dontari Poe, DE Adrian Clayborn

Assessment:

I wonder about Atlanta’s decision to not shake things up a bit more over the offseason, especially on defense. Defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel put out a 22nd ranked defense by DVOA last season and all that really changed was they potentially got worse at defensive tackle. The Falcons are hoping for a breakout season by defensive end Takkarist McKinley, who did have six sacks in relief last year. They’d also be looking for more from Vic Beasley, who had just five sacks as the starter. The defense does have two legit young stars in safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones, plus cornerback Desmond Trufant, but all that resulted in was a defense that might have appeared better (eighth in points allowed, ninth in yards allowed) than it actually was.

Offensively, things still look fine, but they were 10th in passing DVOA and 16th in rushing DVOA with first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. That would likely need to get a lot better for them to make the postseason for a third straight year under Dan Quinn.

By the way, five of their first seven games are at home.

Play the Seahawks? No

Predicted Record: 9-7

Playoffs: No

Carolina Panthers

2017 record: 11-5

New Coaches: OC Norv Turner, DC Eric Washington

Offensive Additions: WR Torrey Smith, WR D.J. Moore (1st), RB C.J. Anderson

Offensive Losses: RB Jonathan Stewart, TE Ed Dickson

Injury Out: LT Matt Kalil on IR

Defensive Additions: DT Dontari Poe, CB Donte Jackson (2nd), SS Da’Norris Searcy

Defensive Losses: FS Kurt Coleman, DT Star Lotulelei

Suspension Out: LB Thomas Davis (four games)

Assessment:

I see the positives to the Panthers, like the linebackers and that Cam Newton can be a very dangerous weapon at times, but I just don’t see how they’re going to effectively pass the ball; Newton is not an accurate passer and they don’t have proven weapons. If it’s a lot of dump-offs to Christian McCaffrey, I don’t know how far that’s going to take them. Defensively it’s a similar issue, with a pass rush led by 38-year-old Julius Peppers and Mario Addison. We’ll see if Taylor Moton is actually a better left tackle than Matt Kalil, but protection could also be an issue.

I think there’s a chance Carolina is actually really bad.

Play the Seahawks? Week 12 in Carolina

Predicted Record: 6-10

Playoffs: No

Dallas Cowboys

2017 record: 9-7

Offensive Additions: WR Allen Hurns, WR Tavon Austin, WR Michael Gallup (3rd), WR Deonte Thompson, OG Connor Williams (2nd)

Offensive Losses: WR Dez Bryant, RB Alfred Morris, TE Jason Witten

Injury Out: C Travis Frederick is out indefinitely

Defensive Additions: DL Datone Jones, LB Leighton Vander Esch (1st)

Defensive Losses: CB Orlando Scandrick

Suspended: DT David Irving out four games

Assessment:

I like Dak Prescott a lot. Tyron Smith is a perfect left tackle. Same deal with Zack Martin. Ezekiel Elliott could rush for 1,500 or more yards. Demarcus Lawrence might be the real deal as a pass rusher. And there are young players around the roster who might become very good, like Taco Charlton, Jaylon Smith, Byron Jones, Jourdan Lewis, Xavier Woods, Chidobe Awuzie ...

But this just does not look like a good team to me.

The loss of Frederick is huge. Maybe he returns soon, who knows. I don’t see them having a ton of success where you need it: passing the ball and stopping the pass. To do that, they’d need coaching that has proven to be a lot better than Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli. It’s a relatively tough schedule to start the year and I think there’s a chance Garrett is the first coach fired.

Play the Seahawks? Week 3 in Seattle

Predicted Record: 5-11

Playoffs: No

Chicago Bears

2017 record: 5-11

New Coaches: HC Matt Nagy, OC Mark Helfrich, DC Vic Fangio

Offensive Additions: WR Allen Robinson, WR Anthony Miller (2nd), TE Trey Burton

Offensive Losses: WR Kendal Wright

Injury In: WR Kevin White

Defensive Additions: DE Khalil Mack, LB Roquan Smith (1st)

Assessment:

This is the first it’s really occurring to me that the Bears might be a very popular sleeper pick now that they’ve added Mack and people are noticing that defensively, they weren’t very bad last season (14th by DVOA). I’ve actually been interested in Chicago’s chances since they hired Nagy, a coach I think will be very successful in his career as the head guy. Offensively, they were atrocious last season, especially in passing, but Nagy should know what to do with Mitchell Trubisky, Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Kevin White, Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel, and a solid left tackle in Charles Leno.

It’ll be a big deal if they win their first two games (@GB, SEA, both on primetime) and overall their schedule looks playoffs-setup worthy.

Play the Seahawks? Week 2 in Chicago on MNF

Predicted Record: 10-6

Playoffs? Yes

New York Giants

2017 record: 3-13

New Coaches: HC Pat Shurmur, OC Mike Shula, DC James Bettcher

Offensive Additions: RB Saquon Barkley (1st), OG Will Hernandez, WR Cody Latimer, OT Nate Solder, RB Jonathan Stewart

Offensive Losses: C Weston Richburg, OG Justin Pugh, WR Brandon Marshall

Injury In: WR Odell Beckham, Jr

Defensive Additions: DT B.J. Hill (3rd), LB/DE Connor Barwin, DE Kareem Martin, LB Alec Ogletree

Defensive Losses: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Injury In: LB B.J. Goodson, CB Janoris Jenkins

Assessment:

A lot of what sank the Giants last season was injuries, and they do get back Beckham this season, but I also don’t know that they added enough to make up the difference between 3-13 and 10-6. Not when Eli Maning is still your QB and you used the number two pick on a running back. Defensively, they look fine but nowhere near where they were two years ago.

Their first seven games look really tough and another slow start would not surprise me.

Play the Seahawks? No

Predicted Record: 7-9

Playoffs: No

Arizona Cardinals

2017 record: 8-8

New Coaches: HC Steve Wilks, OC Mike McCoy, DC Al Holcomb

Offensive Additions: QB Sam Bradford, QB Josh Rosen (1st), QB Mike Glennon, RB Chase Edmonds (4th), WR Christian Kirk (2nd), C Mason Cole (3rd), RG Justin Pugh

Offensive Losses: QB Carson Palmer, QB Drew Stanton, RB Adrian Peterson, WR Jaron Brown, OT Jared Veldheer

Injury Out: C A.Q. Shipley out for season

Injury In: RB David Johnson, LT D.J. Humphries, LG Mike Iupati

Defensive Additions: CB Jamar Taylor

Defensive Losses: S Tyrann Mathieu, DE Frostee Rucker, LB Karlos Dansby, CB Tramon Williams, S Tyvon Branch

Injury In: DE Markus Golden

Assessment:

The changes they made with the coaches and on offense all seem pretty good to me. It’s probably just 1-2 years away from being effective as they need to be. Defensively, they have some stars but likely some major weaknesses. They’re in competition for picking first next year and putting Nick Bosa next to Chandler Jones and Markus Golden, but I guess I could also see the upside that has them going 9-7. I don’t lean that way though.

Play the Seahawks? Week 4 and Week 17

Predicted Record: 4-12

Playoffs: No

Minnesota Vikings

2017 record: 13-3

New Coaches: OC John DeFilippo

Offensive Additions: QB Kirk Cousins, QB Trevor Siemian

Offensive Losses: QB Case Keenum, QB Sam Bradford, QB Teddy Bridgewater, RB Jerick McKinnon

Injury In: RB Dalvin Cook

Defensive Additions: CB Mike Hughes (1st), DT Sheldon Richardson

Defensive Losses: DT Tom Johnson, DT Shamar Stephen

Assessment:

It’s a really simple offseason. They seem to be improving at quarterback, running back, and defensive tackle, with another high cornerback pick in Hughes. Defensively they ranked second by DVOA and it’s hard to get better than that, but they could stand to improve against the pass. Overall it looks like a great team, better than Cousins ever had in Washington, but with a franchise that has only had back-to-back playoffs once since 2000, you want to see a little more proof.

Play the Seahawks? Yes, Week 14 in Seattle

Predicted Record: 11-5

Playoffs: Yes

New Orleans Saints

2017 record: 11-5

Offensive Additions: WR Tre’Quan Smith (3rd), RB Mike Gillislee

Suspended: RB Mark Ingram out four games

Defensive Additions: DE Marcus Davenport (1st), FS Kurt Coleman

Assessment:

Even simpler of an offseason. The Saints liked what they did last year and why shouldn’t they? Eighth on defense, fifth against the pass, second on offense, and first overall in DVOA. They went up in the first round for Davenport and they only significant loss is Ingram for four games. I would still think this is perhaps the best team in the NFL. Schedule sets up for maybe an easy 2-0 start, 4-1 going into the bye week, and rolling on from there.

Play the Seahawks? No

Predicted Record: 13-3

Playoffs: Yes

Detroit Lions

2017 record: 9-7

New Coaches: HC Matt Patricia, DC Paul Pasqualoni

Offensive Additions: RB LeGarrette Blount, OG Frank Ragnow (1st), TE Luke Willson, RB Kerryon Johnson (2nd)

Offensive Losses: TE Eric Ebron, C Travis Swanson

Defensive Additions: DT Ricky Jean-Francois, DT Sylvester Williams

Defensive Losses: DT Haloti Ngata

Assessment:

I think they got the offensive line where they want it to be and have spent a lot of resources there. Matt Stafford should be able to pass it effectively and could be in the MVP conversation if the Lions win more games than they lose. Defensively, I just don’t see much of a show there outside of Darius Slay and Ezekiel Ansah and one injury could really sink that ship. I don’t see this as the year for them.

Play the Seahawks? Yes, Week 8 in Detroit

Predicted Record: 8-8

Playoffs: No

San Francisco 49ers

2017 record: 5-11

Offensive Additions: RT Mike McGlinchey (1st), WR Dante Pettis (2nd), C Weston Richburg, RB Alfred Morris

Offensive Losses: RT Trent Brown, RB Carlos Hyde, QB Brian Hoyer, C Daniel Kilgore, RG Brandon Fusco

Injury Out: RB Jerick McKinnon

Injury In: WR Pierre Garcon

Full Season In: QB Jimmy Garoppolo

Defensive Additions: CB Richard Sherman, LB Fred Warner (3rd), DE Cassius Marsh

Defensive Losses: CB Dontae Johnson, LB Eli Harold, FS Eric Reid

Suspension Out: LB Reuben Foster for two games

Assessment:

For Kyle Shanahan to make the offense to work like he did in Atlanta for one season (the one season where it worked), he needs to have the quarterback like he did then, the number one receiver, the left tackle, the center, and the running backs. One could at least assume this. The 49ers believe they have the quarterback. Joe Staley and Weston Richburg are the tackle-center. But it seems unlikely that Morris and Matt Breida will play like Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. It’s unlikely that Marquise Goodwin, Pierre Garcon, or Dante Pettis are gonna play like Julio Jones this year. The pieces are still missing, and that’s just on offense. Are we saying that Garoppolo is better than Matt Ryan? Maybe he is. But are we saying that? Ryan needs help. I don’t see much help here for Garoppolo and we’re not even sure if Garoppolo is at the elite level some are saying he is at.

Defensively, they look fine but it’s hard to imagine that they’ll be great. Malcolm Smith could be a starter at linebacker and definitely will be called upon a lot during Foster’s suspension and we know his limitations. Sherman is coming off of a pretty serious injury. They have questionable cornerbacks around Sherman, no safety we can deem “elite” yet like Robert Saleh saw when he was coaching around Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Arik Armstead has not done much to warrant a starting gig. It all looks fairly “fine” to me in San Francisco and they have a brutal looking schedule to open the year, including road games in Minnesota, Kansas City, the LA Chargers, and Green Bay — and that’s just over the first six weeks.

I don’t see playoffs as likely.

Play the Seahawks? Week 13 and Week 15.

Predicted Record: 7-9

Playoffs: No

Green Bay Packers

2017 record: 7-9

New Coaches: OC Joe Philbin, DC Mike Pettine

Offensive Additions: TE Jimmy Graham, TE Marcedes Lewis, QB DeShone Kier

Offensive Losses: WR Jordy Nelson, G Jahri Evans

Injury In: QB Aaron Rodgers

Suspension: RB Aaron Jones for two games

Defensive Additions: CB Jaire Alexander (1st), CB Tramon Williams, LB Oren Burks (3rd), DE Muhammad Wilkerson

Defensive Losses: DB Morgan Burnett, DB Damarious Randall

Injury Out: LB Jake Ryan

Injury In: CB Kevin King

Assessment:

A lot of people seem to say that Rodgers is overrated, that his Y/A is going down, that he’s not as dominant as he once was. And I don’t know, maybe there’s some truth to that (definitely the Y/A part, that’s provable), but I haven’t seen much proof that the Packers aren’t good with Rodgers and bad without him. He’s had a significant effect on that team and for now, he’s healthy. They lost Nelson but the offensive identity is now Davante Adams at receiver and the offensive line may be good enough to compensate for having Jimmy Graham at tight end. A healthy Green Bay offense is still good for a top-five ranking, I think, and the defense has some really good players who could perhaps reach that next level under Pettine. They needed to get a lot better against the pass and they’ve at least turned over the cornerback group, plus a return by King.

I’m buying into it.

Play the Seahawks? Yes, Week 11 in Seattle

Predicted Record: 12-4

Playoffs: Yes

Washington Football

2017 record: 7-9

Offensive Additions: QB Alex Smith, WR Paul Richardson, RB Adrian Peterson

Offensive Losses: QB Kirk Cousins

Injury Out: RB Darrius Guice

Injury In: RB Robert Kelly

Defensive Additions: NT Da’Ron Payne (1st)

Defensive Losses: CB Kendall Fuller, DE Junior Galette

Assessment:

Because of the offensive line, I think it’s perhaps a more interesting team than most give them credit. Who knows what they’ll manage to do with Smith instead of Cousins and a new weapon with Richardson, but could it elevate a rushing offense that ranked 30th in YPC? And what about a defense that gave up the most rushing yards in the NFL? Maybe an OK team, but I doubt it’s a playoff team.

Plays the Seahawks? No

Predicted Record: 7-9

Playoffs: No

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2017 record: 5-11

Offensive Additions: RB Ronald Jones (2nd), C Ryan Jensen

Offensive Losses: RB Doug Martin, G J.R. Sweezy

Injury In: CB Vernon Hargreaves

Suspended: QB Jameis Winston for three games

Defensive Additions: DT Vita Vea (1st), DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DE Vinny Curry, CB Carlton Davis (2nd)

Defensive Losses: DE Robert Ayers, DT Chris Baker

Assessment:

A team I thought was a sleeper a year ago, Tampa Bay has plenty of talented players but are not able to put it together. Then they brought back the head coach and coordinators anyway. Will it work this time? Is the defensive line improved enough? Is Winston going to come back, stay out of trouble, and reach that next level of playing like a number one pick would be expected to play? It’s possible but I also see a potential disaster written on this team.

Plays the Seahawks? No

Predicted Record: 3-13

Playoffs: No

LA Rams

2017 record: 11-5

New Coaches: Sean McVay doesn’t replace OC Matt LaFleur

Offensive Additions: WR Brandin Cooks

Offensive Losses: WR Tavon Austin, WR Sammy Watkins

Suspension: G Jamon Brown for two games

Defensive Additions: CB Aqib Talib, CB Marcus Peters, DT Ndamukong Suh, CB Sam Shields

Defensive Losses: LB Connor Barwin, LB Robert Quinn, CB Trumaine Johnson

Assessment:

A lot of people doubt the “chemistry” of the team after adding a few players with notable issues regarding their attitude and behavior, and there could be some truth to that. Maybe it’s a spectacular failure, and I root for that to happen! But I also have to note that talent-wise, this is a rather incredible one-year 53-man roster. For now. Their biggest problem might be if Jared Goff can elevate the players around him or if he drags them down. Defensively, the front three is arguably as good as any in history, and they have some good players in the back eight too.

Play the Seahawks? Week 5 and Week 10

Predicted Record: 13-3

Playoffs: Yes