Saturday, August 23, 2014

Philadelphia Eagles 2014 Team Preview

I am glad I waited until the Eagles played their third preseason game before posting my official team preview. While I never had any doubts about the Birds ability to score points in Chip Kelly's fast-paced, up-tempo system, I was unimpressed with the defensive effort against both Chicago and New England in their first two preseason games. After watching Philly's D shutdown Pittsburgh on Thursday night, I feel somewhat better heading into the regular season opener against Jacksonville in two weeks.

The Eagles' defense made some solid strides last year in a new system under coordinator Billy Davis; however they were still ranked 29th in the NFL in total yards allowed and dead last in the league at stopping the pass. The Bears and the Patriots both moved the ball through the air with relative ease in those first two games no matter which quarterback was in the game. Both teams proved to be a good test for the revamped Philly secondary, but I am not handing out any passing grades given how they played. Pittsburgh is not nearly the threat passing the ball as the first two teams they played, but the Birds did a great job at forcing Big Ben into some bad throws, which in turn, kept the Steelers off the scoreboard when the first teamers were on the field.

Just like an offense that relies on a set system to put points on the board, Davis's defense needs to develop a system that adds more pressure up front to take pressure off the secondary. It really does not come down to personnel as most people would think. It comes down to everyone doing their job on every play of the game. You may not fully buy into this next statement, but the Eagles do have enough talent to be one of the best defenses in the league. To get to that level it will need to play with much better consistency from week to week.

There have been some wholesale changes in the Eagles' defense since last season so it may take some time for things to gel, but if this team can continue to improve against the pass while enhancing its already solid play at stopping the run, it could mean the difference between another 10-win season and the 12 or 13 wins it will take to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Just for the record, my official pick for how many games the Eagles will win this season is 11 with the final one coming in Week 17 on the road against the Giants to clinch the NFC East Division title. The loss would drop the Giants to 9-7 on the year, which could be enough for a wildcard spot in the playoffs. I have Washington coming in third at 7-9 and Dallas will take a step backwards this season to 6-10.

Back in early July I posted my complete team preview for the Eagles on Cappers Picks so it might be a bit dated, but please check out the link below when you get a chance.

Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl XLIX Betting Lines & 2014 NFL Preview

Thursday, August 21, 2014

New York Giants 2014 Team Preview

New York's 2013 regular season was basically over when the leaves were still on the trees in the northeast after starting the year with six-straight losses while turning the ball over at an alarming rate. Tom Coughlin was able to circle the wagons in his 10th season as head coach to lead his team to a 7-3 record from that point on, but the damage had already been done.

Most sportbooks have listed the Giants' projected wins for this season at eight games, but most betting moneylines tend to favor the UNDER on this play. I personally think that New York has the best chance to push Philadelphia for the NFC East Division title this season and I have gone on record as stating that it will take an Eagles' victory at MetLife Stadium against the G-Men in Week 17 to clinch their second-straight division crown.

The addition of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with the 12th overall pick in the first round of the draft should breathe new life into a passing game that fell to 19th in the NFL last season in total yards. I still think that Eli Manning is one of the top quarterbacks in the league because of one proven trait; he knows how to win. You can say the same thing about Coughlin considering that he came dangerously close to getting fired more than once and responded accordingly with Super Bowl titles in 2007 and 2011. I just hope that Nick Foles and Chip Kelly have been taking notes on just what it takes to bring home a world title in the NFL.

The following is a link to my complete team preview of the Giants in an article that was posted a few weeks ago on Cappers Picks.

New York Giants Super Bowl XLIX Betting Lines & 2014 NFL Preview

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dallas Cowboys 2014 Team Preview

The Dallas Cowboys are at a serious crossroads heading into a new year of football after three-straight seasons of losing the NFC East title with a loss in Week 17 to finish 8-8. If you recap this team's offseason with some major losses through free agency and some freak injuries to some key defensive personnel, the arrow appears to be pointing downward to a six or seven win season at best.

One sign of this is that the betting public has driven up the futures odds on this team over the past few months. The Cowboys have gone from being second-favorites behind Philadelphia to win the NFC East this season to the bottom of the list with the highest odds of all four teams. I would have to agree with this assessment as I cannot see Dallas staying competitive with the Giants and the Eagles in 2014. There are still some major concerns with Tony Romo's health after undergoing back surgery at the end of last season and the Cowboys are primed to have the worst defense in the league after finishing near the bottom of the NFL last year in almost every major category.

This is an unbiased opinion that is rooted in plain facts. My biased opinion is that whatever team owner Jerry Jones gets out of his Boys this season is what he deserves. He has every right to meddle as much as he wants since he is writing the checks, but it is pretty obvious that he has no business keeping the role of general manager, especially when it comes to personnel decisions. There is no room in the NFL for ridiculously inflated egos when it comes to winning Super Bowl titles. Jones' enormous ego has gotten so big that his team cannot even compete in the watered-down NFC East.

Below is a link to my complete team preview for Dallas as previously posted on Cappers Picks.

Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl XLIX Betting Lines & 2014 NFL Preview

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Washington Redskins 2014 Team Preview

The first full week of the 2014 NFL preseason kicks things off this Thursday night with the Washington Redskins hosting the New England Patriots in a game that is listed as a PICK. Pulling a page out of Chip Kelly's playbook, the Redskins also hosted New England this week for some head-to-head practices against Bill Belichick's squad. Kelly did the same thing last season in his first season as the Eagles' head coach, so Jay Gruden decided to follow suit in his first year at the helm in Washington.

The big story with this team is the future development of third-year quarterback Robert Griffin III. As a rookie. he played lights-out to help lead the Redskins to a 10-6 record after they won just five games the year before. They also captured the NFC East title that year, but made an early exit in the playoffs with a loss to Seattle in a game that RG III ended-up with a serious knee injury.

After getting rushed back into the starting lineup last season, his production dropped way off the map and the Redskins sunk from first back to worst in the NFC East with a record of 3-13. Some experts have this team jumping right back into the division title race this season with a winning record, but I see Washington's projected win total of 7.5 games as being right on the mark with a lean towards the UNDER on a record of 7-10.

The following is a link to my complete team preview of Washington in an article that was previously posted on Cappers Picks.

Washington Redskins Super Bowl XLIX Betting Lines & 2014 NFL Preview

Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 Odds to Win NFC East with Picks and NFL Predictions

I have been making my way through the NFL the past few weeks by reviewing the futures odds to win each of the eight division races this season as part of a series for Doc's Sports. My journey comes to an end this week with the preview and predictions for the division most near and dear to my heart; the NFC East.

This division has been tagged as the NFC least on more than one occasion over the past three seasons and when 10 wins is good enough to win the title that is going to happen. None the less, this division contains some of the highest profile teams in the league led by America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys.

Jerry Jones's bunch has hardly lived up to this designation with three-straight 8-8 records while losing the last game of the year with the NFC East title on the line. The prospect for a reversal of fortunes this season does not look to good with a defense that has been devastated with a major loss of key personnel through free agency and injuries. This is after this unit finished the 2013 season ranked near the bottom of the NFL in a number of major categories.

The Redskins' ride from worst-to-first-to worst the past three seasons has paved the way for Jay Gruden to take over the reins as head coach. Much of their success this season is pinned to the play of quarterback Robert Griffin III, who has been on his own personal roller-coaster ride in his first two seasons in the league.

The New York Giants added two more Super Bowl titles to their impressive team resume in the past seven seasons but they were a non-factor last year with losses in their first six games. Something tells me that this will not be the case in 2014 as New York works its way back into the mix for a division crown. For the fourth season in a row the NFC title has a good chance of coming down to the final week with Philadelphia on the road against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

It is probably no big surprise to anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis that I am going with the Eagles has my pick to repeat as division champions. I had them going 8-8 in Chip Kelly's first year at the helm and the Birds exceeded my expectations by two games. I am upping the ante to 11 wins in 2014 against a projected win total of nine games with most major sportsbooks. I have the Eagles getting that crucial 11th win to secure the division title with a victory against the Giants in that Week 17 showdown.

The following is a link to my complete preview and predictions for the NFC East as originally posted on Doc's Sports. Be sure to check back over the next two weeks for individual previews for all four teams in the NFC East.

2014 Odds to Win NFC East with Picks and NFL Predictions