It’s that blessed time of year again, the one where the football gods look down upon us mere mortals and rain pumpkin spice over the land. We here at Interjections love to ponder on which teams will take the reins of the season and entertain us all.
Join me as we begin with my local team and their rivals:
New York Giants
This is going to be SOME year – if it weren’t for the youngest quarterback starting on alternate weeks for the Giants’ roommate team, Saquon Barkley would be the biggest story out of New York. He’s still a big deal, and seems to be a pretty real deal, as far as the pre-season has shown us. The running game isn’t going to be much of an issue, and Odell seems to have calmed down, so the true question here is one that should have been the main one on everyone’s minds – will Eli Manning have enough left in him for one more run at a Super Bowl? I think the pieces make sense for a run, but they’ll have a difficult schedule ahead of them, even beyond the beefed up Redskins, thriving Eagles and competent Cowboys rivalries: before the bye they spend time in Houston, New Orleans and Atlanta after hosting Jacksonville in week 1. While back-end could see some time with DOA teams like Tampa Bay and Indianapolis, it may be too little too late. Let’s hope the Texas trip that starts their season turns out successful, or this could be the end of Eli.
A lot of people are sleeping on Alex Smith after Patrick Mahomes essentially foisted him from the starting job in Kansas City. I, for one, think he will ably bounce back in his new locale, and now that they Redskins have amicably separated from their QB of the future Kirk Cousins, I think everyone is grateful the focus is elsewhere. Smith can take his time getting acclimated to Jay Gruden’s system, while the spotlight will be off the team as a whole after an off year. Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder get the chance to surprise and finally show off their skills, while newcomer Paul Richardson also gets a fresh start after puttering around Seattle. Chris Thompson isn’t the highest profiled running back, but he has to get some looks, no? I think this team has breakout potential, but sports are weird, so in a tough division, they may falter despite looking great on paper.
Super Bowl hangovers are notorious stumbling blocks for teams, especially for teams coming out of their first. Heck, Tampa Bay never recovered. So step one was maintaining most of the team, while adding key defensive pieces to offset Beau Allen and Vinny Curry’s departures. Second was deciding who will be the true starter between Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. Despite heading up the offense for a great deal of their championship season, Foles is willing to take the expected step back in order for Wentz to lead the way to a repeat. There’s worry of injury bugs hitting Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffrey, but the season is long and the management resourceful. Jay Ajayi gets a full year to run the ball, and while a lot of people think he isn’t an elite back, there’s always Darren Sproles waiting just behind him to help out. I think that when a team sets out to craft a dynasty, they maintain a majority of the talent that helped them along the way, so Philly is at least a year in to doing it right.
With Dan Bailey’s release yesterday it’s officially time to move on from the Tony Romo era. It’s Dak’s team now, and there’s no reason not to buy in to a positive future. While Dez Bryant searches for a new home, Allen Hurns lucked into a two-year contract after leaving Jacksonville, where he figures to be the number one option for Prescott to toss the pigskin towards. Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams will attempt to back him up, but this team will likely figure to run the ball more anyway, as they have the unstoppable Ezekiel Elliott. Come to think of it, if opposition can figure out how to block the run game, this could be a much worse team than usual. There’s talent here, but will it stand out?
Predictions: Philadelphia, New York, Washington, Dallas
Tomorrow (possibly later today) we’ll take a look at the Giants’ neighbors in MetLife Stadium, the Jets – and their rivals!