So let’s kill some time by taking a look at some updated power rankings now that the NFL Draft has been over for nearly two weeks.
10) Philadelphia Eagles. Projected wins: 9.4. Chance to make playoffs: 66.5 percent. Where the team improved this offseason: Running back. The Eagles traded for Jordan Howard and selected Penn State’s Miles Sanders in the second round. The talent infusion will elevate a unit that ranked 28th in rushing last season (1,570 yards) and was second from the bottom in yards per attempt (3.9).
ESPN’s ranking is based off their “Football Power Index (FPI)” rating, which is “composed of a predicted offensive, defensive and special teams efficiency, as measured by expected points added per play.”
Regardless of method, 10 feels a little low for the Eagles. The Atlanta Falcons (No. 9), Houston Texans (No. 8), and Chicago Bears (No. 7) are all ahead of Philly. I’d take the Eagles over those squads and not just because they beat them all in 2018. Jim Schwartz’s defense has done a relatively good job containing Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Houston is a prime regression candidate and Doug Pederson is a much better coach than Bill O’Brien. Chicago lost defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and I’m taking Carson Wentz over Mitchell Trubisky any day of the week.
7) Carson Wentz will be back and that will amp up the offense. What will Jordan Howard bring to help him?
Indeed, a healthy Wentz should make a big difference for the offense. Actually having a running game could be nice, too! The rotation of Howard, Sanders, and Corey Clement sure beats what Philly was trotting out last year.
7) The Eagles are now one year removed from their victory lap offseason, but they still have plenty of their Super Bowl contributors and a few new toys for Carson Wentz on offense.
Essentially, the Eagles are only going to go as far as Wentz takes them. The Eagles have tried to help No. 11 by getting him some more weapons to work with in Howard, Sanders, DeSean Jackson, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. There’s reason to believe the Eagles can get back to being one of the league’s best offenses.
6) ”All the Right Moves” is both the name of a middling Tom Cruise football movie from 1983 and the correct label for what the 2017 NFL champs are doing. Philadelphia hit the ground running in the first round by leapfrogging the Texans (picking at No. 23) into the 22nd overall spot to ensure they’d land Jason Peters’ eventual replacement, Andre Dillard, who will eventually look out for Carson Wentz’s blind side. Other draft banter: Still appreciate the trade for running back Jordan Howard, even with Doug Pederson’s squad adding a quality Penn State back (Miles Sanders) in the second round (No. 53 overall). Anyone else feel like the Eagles are winning at life?
Howie Roseman’s rightfully drawn praise for having a good offseason. It hasn’t been perfect; the Eagles could still afford to add another pass rusher and more interior offensive line depth. But there are a lot of things to like about what Roseman has accomplished.
The Eagles’ average ranking from these four outlets is 7.5. I think that’s reasonable.
If I had to power rank the Eagles, I’d have the following teams clearly ahead of them: the New England Patriots (regretfully), the New Orleans Saints, and the Kansas City Chiefs. Maybe the Indianapolis Colts as well. I think you start to get in similar tier territory with the Los Angeles Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams (though Doug > McVay). The Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks are certainly in the mix due the presence of Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson.
The Eagles have a high ceiling if Wentz can stay healthy. We just need to see him do that.
And now for a look at the rest of the NFC East.
I think the Cowboys are bound for some regression. They only ranked 21st in DVOA and 14th in point differential last season. They weren’t quite as good as their 10-6 record suggested. Dak Prescott is a limited quarterback and, as of the last time I checked, Jason Garrett is still their head coach.
Sports Illustrated: 9th
CBS Sports: 15th
Sports Illustrated: Dak Prescott’s contract extension will be the most interesting move of the Cowboys’ offseason and we’re still waiting for that domino to fall.
NFL.com: The Cowboys required just one piece to put together the premier defense in the league: a big, talented defensive tackle. They found that guy, with a dash of quickness, in Trysten Hill (No. 58 overall) out of Central Florida. If he develops, it will only serve to maximize the abilities of Tank Lawrence and Robert Quinn on the edges, while minimizing the bustiness of 2017 first-rounder Taco Charlton (4.0 career sacks). The last Dallas defensive tackle to impact the game from a four-man front was La’Roi Glover, dating back to the Bill Parcells days. If the kids in the Dallas secondary take the next step this year, look out. Dak Prescott and the offense might only have to put 16 points on the board to win. OK, you’re right, I’m being too friendly to the Cowboys ... Make it 17.
CBS Sports: They have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. This season will be all about Jason Garrett’s coaching.
ESPN: Projected wins: 8.4. Chance to make playoffs: 44.2 percent. Where the team improved this offseason: Pass rush. The biggest move the Cowboys made was keeping DeMarcus Lawrence on a five-year, $105 million contract. Lawrence has 25 sacks the past two seasons. The next biggest was acquiring Robert Quinn in a trade from the Miami Dolphins. He had 6.5 sacks last season and will be motivated for a big 2019 entering the final year of his deal. Randy Gregory, who had six sacks last season, is currently suspended indefinitely, but the Cowboys have not given up hope he can play in 2019. Add in the current depth on the line with Tyrone Crawford, Maliek Collins, free-agent pickup Kerry Hyder and second-round pick Trysten Hill, and the Cowboys are as deep and talented along the front as they’ve been since Rod Marinelli joined the coaching staff in 2013.
Washington’s ceiling was theoretically raised with the selection of Dwayne Haskins. Having a good quarterback can make all the difference. Washington was in decent position to actually win the division last year prior to Alex Smith getting hurt. They’re far from an absolute juggernaut but they’re also not a total pushover. There’s some good talent on that roster and Jay Gruden is the second best coach in the NFC East. Then again, Case Keenum might be starting some games for this team. Haskins could also easily struggle as a rookie. I think the following outlets may be a little too down on Washington.
Sports Illustrated: 25th
CBS Sports: 28th
Sports Illustrated: Will it be Dwayne Haskins or Case Keenum starting in Week 1? Either way, it sounds more promising than some of Washington’s options down the stretch last season.
CBS Sports: How soon before first-round pick Dwayne Haskins takes over at quarterback? It shouldn’t be long.
ESPN: Projected wins: 6.2. Chance to make playoffs: 10.0 percent. Where the team improved this offseason: Defense. The Redskins haven’t had a defense finish the season ranked among the top 10 in either yards or points allowed since 2009. To help change that, they signed safety Landon Collins in free agency (and tried to sign linebacker C.J. Mosley). They also learned that linebacker Reuben Foster, who was claimed in November but has yet to play for Washington, won’t be suspended. And the Redskins drafted outside linebacker Montez Sweat in the first round. A big key here: All three players are 25 years old or younger. That means Washington probably will have at least seven starting defenders who are 25 or younger. It’s the best base of young defensive talent the Redskins have had in a while.
NFL.com: Anytime a franchise can squeeze two or three first-round picks into its draft haul, it can mark a turning of the page -- especially if one of those players is a quarterback, or, uh, Bob Seger. There are plenty of draft critics who are high on Dwayne Haskins (No. 15 overall), the Ohio State product who immediately provides hope on the quarterback front. Case Keenum can be the perfect bridge for the organization -- and the rookie’s evolution -- by simply treating every game like it’s part of the 2017 Divisional Round. Mentoring and handing over the reins is not necessary; playing to win, and forcing the coaching staff to make Haskins compete, is the ticket.
It must really suck to be a Giants fan right now. Dave Gettleman is clueless, Pat Shurmur is incredibly uninspiring, and Eli Manning is obviously washed up. Where’s the hope for this team? Oh, sorry, I forgot about the Daniel Jones pick.
Sports Illustrated: 28th
CBS Sports: 31st
NFL.com: It’s one thing to inject premier talent into a roster; it’s entirely different to drop three first-round picks on your roster in a single night. Let’s put the Daniel Jones/ Eli Manning quarterback docudrama to the side for a moment, as I don’t think the selection of Jones at No. 6 overall will actually impact this season all that much right now. New York’s defense allowed a river of points to flow to the other teams on the schedule last year. Well, it looks like they dammed it up this year. Doubtful the Giants give up 412 again with the additions of DT Dexter Lawrence (No. 17 overall) and CB Deandre Baker (No. 30 overall). Some in the Twitter gallery might not have liked GM Dave Gettleman moving up to get Baker. OK, but what good is owning draft capital if you aren’t gonna use it? Still better than the Redskins, for now.
Sports Illustrated: They traded Odell Beckham and drafted a quarterback they expect to stay on the bench, so the Giants have dropped a bit from the end of last season.
ESPN: Projected wins: 6.3. Chance to make playoffs: 10.2 percent. Where the team improved this offseason: Offensive line. This has been a Dave Gettleman priority since his arrival as general manager -- get some hog mollies to block for Eli Manning. Not only is the left side of the line (tackle Nate Solder and guard Will Hernandez) in its second season together, but the Giants also added Pro Bowl guard Kevin Zeitler in a trade with the Browns and are getting center Jon Halapio back from a broken leg. Throw in the likely addition of veteran Mike Remmers at right tackle and the offensive line should be massively improved from the unit that was a mess the first half of last season.
CBS Sports: How long before Daniel Jones plays for this team? Does he play at all this season? Is it still Eli Manning’s team for 2019?
Bonus: Nick Foles’ Jacksonville Jaguars have an average ranking of 19.25, if you were wondering.