I am ever the cockeyed optimist where our beloved Boyz are concerned, but this year I have an especially gleeful outlook. It really does look as though the stars are aligning our way for once.
First a dose of reality, in this "Game of NFL Thrones", there are always more pretenders than contenders and amongst these latter the road to Pete's trophy is full of ruts and chuck holes that swallow up players, coaches and franchises alike. This makes knuckleheads out of nearly all of us who dare gaze into our 32 crystal balls, for indeed all fans of all teams can plainly see how their 53 will be the last standing. That's what's so great about the off season, everyone's a champ.
Now as to my prognostication:
1. The early camp and fifth preseason game. Unlike last year the Boyz will have ample time to see and evaluate their new and red shirt players. Time to find 5 serviceable offensive linemen. Time for a player rich defense to adapt to a new system.
2. A schedule that should give them a jump start, if indeed they are contenders and not the other. Also a schedule that pits them against the NFC North while the South and West ( to whit Falcons, Saints, Niners, Seahawks ) beat each other to bits. Not that Packers, Bears, Vikes and Lions are chopped liver and may beat us, they are not so likely to beat us up, and individually I feel we wii more than hold our own against them. More to a point, an 11 win season would give us a real shot at home field and first round bye. 12 wins would make this almost a certainty.
3. A weak NFC East. This bullet may be wishful thinking, but as I see it right now the Eagles are a mess, the Giants are unsettled in contracts, long of tooth on defense and still unsettled in the secondary. Now the dreaded Skins. Will Bobby 3 be the same player, and even if he is, will the Skins really devote their triple option to a newly patched ACL knowing the franchise is on the line with every carry? Not to mention that NFL defensive coordinators have had plenty of time and tape to scheme against it.
So there you have my cockeyed optimist assessment as things stand at this moment, before the first training camp snap. Knocking loudly on wood that the injury bug will not bite us nearly as severely as last season:
"Blare of Trumpets"
I think returning stars ( Ware with two arms, Lee, Church, Carter, Ratliff ) will propel this team to its just heights, that is to say 11 wins, first round bye and then facing a very good team to get to the NFC Title game. Get there and anything can happen, even enough to sate a cockeyed optimist!