- Good morning, Hogs Haven, and welcome to the official beginning of the “Let’s All Pick Dallas to Win the Super Bowl” season. That’s right! You haven’t missed it! With virtually nothing else to talk about, this is that special time of year when almost every talking head and football “expert” goes on national television or national print outlets and predicts that this is the year for the ‘Boys. Setting aside the “America’s Team” garbage for a moment, this time of year is a true reminder that front-running bandwagoners from every city in the country pull hard for Dallas...until they suck out loud and blow it. If the world wasn’t full of fake football fans that wouldn’t know Danny White from Danny Elfman, there would be no need to pander to them by making the SAME TERRIBLE PREDICTIONS EVERY YEAR!
- After 20 years of not winning the Super Bowl despite being picked by so many professional analysts, I think Dallas has laid claim to way more offseason trophies than the Redskins. That said, I am not here to try and convince any of you that Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott shouldn’t be met with the deepest respect you can give an opposing player of a team that you like less than a Jacuzzi full of horse manure. They proved what they can do in the league, and from an individual standpoint, they have earned it. My problem with most of the talk around the Dallas team—and the NFC East, which is where I am taking this—is that people are very eager to assume that these two second-year players can replicate their rookie performances behind a very different offensive line. More on this below.
- When you pick one team from a division to be a Super Bowl favorite, it is either a knock on or a hat tip to the division from which that team plays. In this case, I do think think the NFC East is getting the credit it deserves. When you look at how the NFC East played outside the division last season (no team had a losing record outside the division), it seems fair that the NFC favorite would get picked out of the East. Looking at each team in the East, though, causes me to question just how certain people can be of the team that is going to survive what may well be the best division in the league. Let’s face it, whatever step forward the Philadelphia Eagles are going to take this year, that step is still going to land in pile of dog crap (wait...I am not completely down on Philly). I think your average prediction has Philly logging a losing record, but the real matter that needs to get resolved is how the offense is going to outscore opponents. Despite leading the league in time of possession during the regular season in 2016 (had to look it up to confirm), they managed to finish just outside of the top half of the league in points per game. They did give Carson Wentz a nice weapon in Alshon Jeffery and some speed on the outside in Torrey Smith, but it will come down to how much time their offensive line can give the young quarterback. I thought their line played a bit over their heads last season, when Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin all took turns at right tackle. Brandon Brooks was better than expected, but at the end of the day, there was nothing settled about this unit. I don’t feel like Wentz is coming into the season feeling worry-free, and that is the difference on many Sundays (see laundry list of non-worry-free Redskins quarterbacks over the years). There are a lot of new names and faces on the Eagles defensive side of the ball in 2017, and if they have to spend any additional time on the field next year than the league minimum, any lack of chemistry out of the gate will be exposed. That’s not too biased, is it? Hahaha...they went 2-4 inside the division last year and 5-5 outside of it. That says at least something about our brethren to the immediate north of us.
- As for the New York Giants, what can I say? They literally tried to give us a win in our season finale last season and we politely declined to accept the gift. Eli Manning continues to show up for work and keep his team in games. They continue to field an above-average pass rush and their defense does just enough on most days to give Eli a chance to maneuver in the fourth quarter. Outside of the division, the Giants went 7-3 last season, regularly giving opponents all they could handle. Inside the division, they went 4-2, which was the best record inside the division (interestingly, that distinction would have been ours had we beaten a team that handed it off countless times before throwing ONE PASS downfield to beat us). The Giants have been a somewhat steadying ship in the NFC East for many years, and as much as I would like to think the Redskins will hang with them in 2017, I need to see it.
- As for the offensive line in Dallas, there are going to be two new faces in the starting lineup. Ronald Leary, who filled in rather well for La’el Collins last season, is now in Denver. Doug Free, their veteran right tackle that started 114 games for the ‘Boys, has retired. Collins will move to right tackle this season, and Dallas will be trying out rookies and free agents to fill the open inside spot. Sound familiar, Redskins fans? Listen, based on what they have accomplished in recent years, I will be the last one to sit here and predict that Dallas will fall on its face up front (they still have three All-Pro guys, right?). Still...it is a hard sell to think they can keep those two second-year players as clean as they did last season. If that is true, that would be a major weak spot for a team whose success was largely based on the performance up front. There is plenty of talent on that Dallas team, so it would take more than just an unraveling of the offensive line to derail them completely, but it could mean the difference between a dominant record (like the 13-3 result they just turned in) and one that causes more divisional suspense in the last couple weeks of the season. Out of respect for the NFC East, I like that the favorite people are picking is from our division. Out of respect for the league, I don’t get how you would pick Dallas over Green Bay at the moment...unless you were just trying to rev up the legions of bedazzled-jean jacket-wearing fans who have no real knowledge of football.
- Among many things we will cover on The Audible tomorrow night will be this idea that Dallas gets too much love this time of year, peppered with your thoughts and comments on the topic. We will also be looking to do another Facebook Live segment, and for all those who will be around tomorrow evening at around 9:30 PM EST, we will be giving away a pretty cool prize, just in time for Father’s Day. Check out this Redskins helmet bluetooth speaker from NIMA. We intend to award the best comment/question/contribution to tomorrow night’s show with this awesome little party enhancer (pictured below). Thanks to the folks at NIMA (#championshipsound) for partnering up with us over at The Audible. Tune in tomorrow night for your chance to win the last of three of these speakers. If you miss out tomorrow, hit up NIMA’s site and pick one up for Father’s Day!
Are you ready for some FOOTBALL!!!?!?!??!? (In three months...)
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