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Division Links: BGN takes the under on 10 wins for Eagles; BtB reports Cowboys top-5 in ESPN Future Power Rankings

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images
Bleeding Green Nation

Answering 7 questions to help preview the Eagles’ 2020 season

Over/under 10 wins?

I’m stuck choosing between nine or 10 wins for the 2020 Eagles, so I’ll take the under.

This team has a ceiling for championship success when you consider Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz combined to form one of the best head coach-quarterback duos in the NFL. But the Eagles also still have a lot of question marks that lead me to believe they’re more “good” than truly “great.” The wide receiver picture is still unsettled, the offensive line could take a step back after losing Brandon Brooks and shifting Jason Peters out of left tackle, Malcolm Jenkins is gone … there are some significant concerns here.

Notable injuries heading into training camp?

Starting wide receiver Alshon Jeffery suffered a Lisfranc injury in mid-December and there’s no time table for his return. He seems likely to begin the season on PUP, thus requiring him to miss at least six games … if not more. Backup defensive end Daeshon Hall is coming off an ACL tear that’ll likely land him on PUP.

Bleeding Green Nation

Will the Eagles be able to replace Malcolm Jenkins?

A review of the many big passing plays surrendered by the Eagles’ 2019 defense raises questions about McLeod’s effectiveness on the back end.

Mills also has a background at safety considering he played the position at LSU. His skill set could better lend to lining up all over the defense as opposed to being vulnerable to getting roasted deep at corner.

Still, there are reasons for skepticism here. The Eagles’ coaching staff was previously so adamant that Mills wasn’t a safety. He hasn’t truly played the position since 2015 and he’s going to make this position change during an offseason where practice reps as more limited than ever.

Some have suggested he could beat out Mills to be a full-time starter but I don’t think that’ll be the case. Parks seems bound to play the No. 3 safety role instead.

It’s possible that Wallace could make an instant impact. He could push for the No. 3 safety job, though not having a real offseason works against him as he transitions to the NFL.

The Eagles made an effort to roster a number of defensive backs that they consider to be “positionless” players. We could see these safeties used in a number of different ways as they try to replace Jenkins. They have some intriguing pieces but it won’t be easy.

Blogging the Boys

ESPN produces their annual future rankings, and the Cowboys crack the top five

Here is some of what ESPN had to say.

Why they’re here: The Cowboys have been as strong as nearly any team in finding blue-chip talent, acing many draft picks to help build a top-flight nucleus. Though Dak Prescott didn’t get a new deal this offseason, if a deal is struck in the future, the Cowboys will have perhaps the best skill group in football basically all under contract long term. Couple that with an excellent offensive line, and points should come easy going forward. — Yates

Biggest worry: Will the lingering contract situation with Prescott have a negative impact on the focus and attention to detail of both QB and the team overall? Prescott seems intent on betting on himself for this season and dancing this dance again in 2021, which ultimately could lead to the Cowboys being in the market for a franchise QB in less than a year. Say it ain’t so. — Riddick

All fair with that. The Cowboys’ offensive skill positions are top-notch in the league and the offensive line is still a powerhouse. Getting a deal done with Prescott after the 2020 season is still a major priority.

Then there is the McCarthy Effect.

Top stat to know: Last season the Cowboys ranked 22nd in dropback rate when win probability was between 20% and 80%. But with new Dallas coach Mike McCarthy running the show for Green Bay in 2018, the Packers ranked fourth in the same metric, which means we can expect a heavier aerial attack for the Cowboys. For a team with a good quarterback — and especially after CeeDee Lamb fell into their lap in the draft — that’s a good thing, for 2020 and beyond. — Walder

Big Blue View

Giants winners and losers from NFL proposal to cancel preseason games

Winner — All of the backup QBs

Quarterbacks are always at a premium. If your starter goes down and you don’t have a competent backup you are going to lose football games. During Eli Manning’s time, the Giants didn’t have to deal with that. Eli, though, is gone. Daniel Jones already missed two games last season, so we know he — like other human beings — is fallible.

The COVID-19 pandemic puts an even higher premium on having a stable of quarterbacks. In a normal year you would look at the Giants’ 90-man roster, see five quarterbacks, and think that is too many.

This year? With the pandemic making it possible that one or more of the Giants’ quarterbacks will miss time due to illness, and practice squads expanded and allowing for a half-dozen veterans of unlimited experience, I can easily see all five quarterbacks sticking around.

How’s this scenario? Jones, Colt McCoy, Cooper Rush make the initial 53-man roster. Both Alex Tanney, as the veteran you would want to activate to be a backup due to injury or illness, and Case Cookus, as the developmental project, both make the 16-man practice squad.

Loser — Rysen John ... and probably others

I am singling out John, one of my favorite offseason stories and a kid I’m rooting for, as a guy who could be hurt by the lack of preseason and practice time.

This is a kid from a Division II school in Canada — a bad DII team at that — converting from wide receiver to tight end AND trying to figure out if he actually has the skills to compete against NFL-level competition.

His college coach admitted to me that best-case scenario for John is a spot on the practice squad while he learns for a year or two. The Giants, though, have seven tight ends on their 90-man roster. If they are going to keep one or two on the practice squad, Eric Tomlinson and Garrett Dickerson have some NFL experience, and undrafted Kyle Markway is an inline tight end who already has a more NFL-ready skill set than John.

There are other young players who will probably get lost in the shuffle. When I thought about specific ones on the Giants’ 90-man roster, though, John’s name is the one that leaped to mind.