USA Today predicts Eagles will win NFC East, be ousted by Bears in playoffs


Last Summer, USA Today’s Nate Davis accurately predicted that the Seattle Seahawks would defeat the Denver Broncos in the Superbowl. While you could counter with the argument that Davis wasn’t exactly going out on a limb with his pick, picking a team that has a second-year quarterback leading the way (even if the defense is what truly ‘won’ them the Superbowl), and actually getting it right, is commendable.

While I say that, it really doesn’t guarantee that anything about the success Davis’ 2014 picks. For example, in 2009, I accurately predicted that the Yankees would beat the Phillies prior to the season. The year after? I took the Seattle Mariners to win the World Series after a big off-season, which blew up in my face as the Mariners ended up winning 61 games that year. And that was only making MLB predictions. Making picks on the NFL at the beginning of the season actually tends to be even more of a crapshoot than the MLB, because of the amount of parody in the league.

So yesterday, Davis released his 2014 predictions. In an attempt to go back-to-back years of correctly predicting the Superbowl matchup, Davis picked the Andrew Luck led Indianapolis Colts to defeat the Seahawks in Superbowl 49. While I can’t argue with that pick, I can argue somewhat with some of his other thoughts.

Before I get to the thoughts I could argue with, here is another one that I partially agree with. Davis has the Eagles winning the NFC East.

"Eagles 11-5 (4): Class of weak division. But can Nick Foles reproduce 2013 magic? DeSean Jackson’s speed will be missed."

So I agree, but wow,  that is a really shitty preview. Davis says that the Eagles are the class of a weak division, which I agree with, but his next two points don’t make a ton of sense. Davis seems to question what type of season that Nick Foles will have in 2014 and discusses the impact that DeSean Jackson‘s loss could have on the Eagles in 2014. Yet, Davis has the Eagles winning 11 games, one more than they did in 2014. You don’t win 11 games in the NFL, while playing a pretty difficult schedule, just because you are ‘the class of a weak division’. If he has the Eagles winning 11 games, but makes those two negative points, then how does he see them improving? This is why you can’t preview teams in one or two sentences because it leaves too much to be desired, in terms of analysis.

Anyways, everyone knows that the NFC East might have become the weakest division in the entire NFL, but Davis thinks a lot lower of the NFC East than I do.

"NFC EastRedskins 7-9: If the line and RG3‘s knee hold up, this offense will be hard to slow, but defense may be year away.Giants 6-10: Eli Manning’s supporting cast is getting younger, even if he isn’t. Team speed doesn’t impress.Cowboys 3-13: Tony Romo’s back, defense are looking awfully frail. Dallas fans might end up pining for .500 teams."

I can’t argue that the Redskins defense isn’t superb (the Eagles isn’t either), but as I said earlier this off-season, the Redskins have a scary offense that is going to keep them in games this season. I see the Redskins winning at least nine games in 2014.

The Giants are right about where they should be in my mind. I think the additions of Odell Beckham and Andre Williams will help Eli Manning, but their offensive line is still way to shaky for them to compete with the two other on-paper elite offenses (Eagles and Redskins) in this division.

Predicting the Cowboys to go 3-13 is a laugher. Yeah, Tony Romo is coming off back surgery, but it’s 2014 and players can come back nine months after surgery and still perform. Losing Sean Lee is a blow, but Lee only played 11 games last year (many of which he wasn’t at 100 percent for) and the Cowboys still won eight games. So their defense is going to be really bad again, but I think if they run DeMarco Murray more this year they are still a six to eight win team. 3-13 is a shock-value pick.

Then we get to Davis’ playoff picks, where he has the Eagles making a first-round exit in a home loss to the Chicago Bears.

"Bears (5) defeat Eagles (4)"

I don’t believe that the Eagles are necessarily a team that should be considered a Superbowl favorite, although if their offense got hot enough I wouldn’t completely rule it out, but the Bears? The Bears were right next to the Cowboys in terms of defensive putridity last season. They added Jared Allen and made some nice additions in the draft with Kyle Fuller and Ego Ferguson, but how much better are they going to be just a year after ranking 32nd in opponents’ rushing yards. 

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Marc Trestman did a tremendous job with the Bears’ offense in his first season, but is the Bears’ offense better than the Eagles? Statistically, at least based on last year, they aren’t. Obviously the Eagles don’t have DeSean anymore,  but I’ll be the first to tell you that I would take Nick Foles over Jay Cutler, certainly would take LeSean McCoy over Matt Forte, and I think the Eagles’ offensive line blows the Bears’ line away. I’d take Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery over any of the Eagles’ receivers, but I think if you include the Eagles’ tight-ends and Darren Sproles in the equation, I’d take the Eagles receiving corps as a whole. I would also take Chip Kelly running my offense over Trestman, even though I think very highly of both offensive minds.

So, I don’t agree with Davis’ assessment. The Eagles might lose in the first-round of the playoffs again, but I’d be really surprised if it is in the fashion that Davis sees it happening.

Generally, I can’t stand when people make their NFL predictions this early. Too much can happen between now and training camp, let alone during training camp and the pre-season, to make a truly accurate assessment of the league now. Davis may have accurately predicted the Superbowl last year, but I’m not blown away by his NFL predictions as a whole for this year.