videoPHILADELPHIA -- My first reaction to this piece by Jason La Canfora of was a silent scream of despair.

It has been an interesting couple of months, speculating about the possibility the Philadelphia Eagles would trade up in the draft for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. But that speculation has to end at some point. Most of us had April 30 as the finish line for all the talk and projected trades and even more involved scenarios.

Then La Canfora comes along with this piece, which outlines how the Mariota speculation -- for the Eagles, Chargers and other teams -- doesn’t necessarily have to end next Thursday. No, La Canfora reasonably explains, the Tennessee Titans could select Mariota with the second overall pick and still entertain trade offers for him.

Cue the silent scream of despair.

This is not the normal way things get done in the NFL. But that doesn’t make La Canfora wrong. Heck, if Chip Kelly’s offseason rampage has shown us anything, it’s that he doesn’t give a flying hoot about the normal ways of the NFL. If anything, Kelly takes delight in doing things in new and unorthodox ways.

The main point is this: What good does it do anyone, from Tennessee to any of the teams seeking Mariota, to limit themselves to the 15 minutes after Tampa Bay makes the first pick in the draft? Until the Buccaneers commit to Jameis Winston (or any other player besides Mariota), no formal trade is possible.

Kelly could work out a tentative trade with the Titans for the second pick, but the Titans won’t be able to be sure that’s the best possible deal until the clock starts ticking on their selection. Sure, a team could come in with an offer that blows the Titans away and a deal could get done just like that. But the pressure of doing big business with long-term ramifications for a couple of billion-dollar companies in 15 minutes just seems kind of ridiculous.

So yes, the Titans could secure the rights to Mariota and then open the window for business. There are some less-than-ideal optics involved here. The Titans will have to endure Roger Goodell telling their fans that they have a new franchise quarterback, only to pull the rug from those same fans within a day or two. The Eagles, or any other team trading up, would have to make draft picks knowing that they could be flipping them for Mariota.

It all gets kind of messy. It would look better and feel better to get all of this cleared up on Thursday night. All of these teams have had months to work out possible deals. It will look more than a little amateurish to let all of this drag on much beyond the first round.

Ultimately, though, if it takes an extra day or two to complete a deal for Mariota, the Eagles and their fans won’t mind waiting a bit. The silent scream won’t last.

The Washington Redskins liked that their DeSean Jackson reality show contained nothing but long, downfield catches in 2014. BET obviously has a different set of goals for its reality show on Jackson.

[+] EnlargeDeSean Jackson
AP Photo/Mark TenallyDeSean Jackson will be the star on a reality TV show on BET.

According to Variety, BET will be the home for a new reality show on Jackson. It will be called DeSean Jackson: Home Team and center around the star receiver and the women who run his life.

Had the announcement come a year ago, fresh off his divorce from the Philadelphia Eagles amid strong rumors as to the reasons why, then BET might have had a hit show. Regardless, Jackson remains an intriguing figure. In March, Jackson posted on his Instagram account that he had a role in a movie on late rapper Tupac Shakur. In January he served as a judge in the Miss Universe pageant (he voted for the winner, Miss Colombia), along with boxer Manny Pacquaio among others. Jackson posted photos of himself with Pacquaio and real estate mogul Donald Trump.

According to Variety, here's a description of the reality show (with a h/t to Clinton Yates of the Washington Post):

"DeSean Jackson is at the top of his game as one of the most talked about and watched players in the NFL today. That means eyes are always on him -- waiting for him to score touchdowns and waiting for him to drop the ball off the field. Even though he has the money and the fame, DeSean's life is actually run by a core group of women including his "momager" Gayle, his sister and assistant A'Dreea, his publicist Denise and his new girlfriend, Kayla. Produced by Rogue Atlas Productions in association with Lionsgate Television. Eli Frankel, Ryan Holcomb, Elise Duran, Desean Jackson and Byron Jackson serve as executive producers. Jay Fragus and Lawrence Bell serve as co-executive producers."

Jackson and his brother, Byron, are listed as executive producers of the show. While Jackson was a hot topic in Philadelphia over fear of off-field issues, he was a quiet figure in Washington during his first season. He caught 56 passes for 1,169 yards and six touchdowns, leading the NFL with 13 catches for at least 40 yards.


PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Eagles fans should be grateful to Tony Romo, even if it doesn't come naturally to them.

The Dallas Cowboys quarterback did the Eagles a favor this week by declaring that, "We're going to win a Super Bowl next year." Romo was accepting an award -- the Nancy Lieberman Lifetime Achievement Award, to be exact -- at a banquet and closed his 10-minute speech with that promise.

Those things don't tend to end well for the speaker. I can still remember Buddy Ryan taking the microphone after a training camp practice at West Chester University and telling the assembled fans that the Eagles would sweep their division games that year. They went on to go 1-6-1 against NFC East opponents and 5-10-1 overall.

More recently, Vince Young made the 2011 preseason observation that the Eagles had assembled a "dream team" with big free-agency moves. The dream team woke up and went 8-8.

Of course, Romo said the Cowboys would win "a Super Bowl." He didn't necessarily say they would win the Super Bowl that will be played in Santa Clara, Calif.

It is understandable that Romo would be feeling optimistic. After finishing with an 8-8 record in what felt like 20 consecutive seasons (but was really four), Dallas broke out with a 12-4 record and the NFC East title in 2014. Romo got to play behind a young, dominating offensive line that figures to be together for a while. He almost brought his team back for a playoff victory at Green Bay.

There was plenty to feel good about. But so far this offseason, the Cowboys have lost leading rusher DeMarco Murray (to the Eagles, no less) and they have signed free-agent defensive end Greg Hardy. Just days after the NFL ruled that Hardy will be suspended for the first 10 games of the season, he was reportedly involved in an altercation with new teammate Davon Coleman.

That doesn't exactly bode well for championship team building.

Hey, it's understandable. Romo turned 35 this week and has a history of back trouble. He is clearly in the twilight of his career. He might as well shoot for the Super Bowl now. Who knows how many chances he'll have after this?

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As a draft analyst, New York Giants tackle Justin Pugh is anything but wishy-washy. In this season of hems and haws and disclaimers and smokescreens, we asked Pugh on Thursday who he'd like the Giants to take at No. 9 next Thursday night and he didn't hesitate.

"I like the kid from Iowa," Pugh said, referencing Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff. "Just from what I've seen. Seems like a tough kid. I mean, I just watched a few games on him, and that's someone I would like. I'd like to play with someone like that."

[+] Enlarge Justin Pugh
Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesThe Giants' Justin Pugh likes what he sees when watching film of Brandon Scherff, and isn't concerned that drafting Scherff could bring on a position change.

Scherff and the Giants have been an exceedingly popular pair since the start of mock-draft season, and Pugh acknowledged his own awareness of that fact. The Giants want to improve their run-blocking, and Scherff is an uncommonly angry run-blocker who not only dominates at the line, but finishes defenders to an extent that jumps out at you on tape. He played tackle at Iowa, as Pugh did at Syracuse, but some evaluators think he's better suited to play guard in the NFL, as they thought of Pugh when he came out two years ago.

"He's a tough guy. I've heard he's tough," Pugh said. "He plays tackle, he may be a guard, may be a tackle, and that's something I went through going into the draft. I'm just looking forward to getting a guy in here who wants to work and do things the right way and who has the right attitude. And everything I've heard about that kid is great, so I'd love to have him."

Setting aside how jarring it is to hear a 24-year-old Pugh refer to someone else as a "kid," (Scherff is 23, by the way), Pugh's enthusiasm flies directly in the face of the NFL veteran's axiom that you never want your team's first-round pick to play the same position you play. If the Giants take Scherff, it's entirely possible that they could decide he's their new right tackle, moving Pugh inside to guard and away from the position he played in his first two seasons in the NFL.

Pugh insists he wouldn't care.

"Not at all," Pugh said. "I think, if you look at every single Giant offensive lineman that's been here when we've won Super Bowls -- the David Diehls of this world, who moved from guard to tackle to left tackle, won a Super Bowl playing left tackle, no one thought he could do that. If you don't have that mentality in that offensive line room, you're not going to be successful. You have to have that versatility."

Rather than dig in his heels and insist the right tackle job is his and someone's got to take it from him, Pugh (who apprenticed under Diehl during training camp in 2013) is referring back to the reasons the Giants made him a first-round pick in the first place.

"That's one of the reasons the Giants drafted me, because I said I could play any position across the offensive line," Pugh said. "So if they bring me in here and say, 'We need you at right tackle this year, we need you at left tackle next year, we need you at guard'... that's what I told them I would do."

And there you have it, folks. Pugh is fired up and wants the Giants to draft someone who could possibly force him to switch positions, because he thinks that's what's best for the team. Diehl, who lost his own job to Pugh after tutoring him throughout the summer of 2013, would be proud.

videoHis words carry weight, not just because of his background as a Super Bowl coach but because his brother happens to be a coach of a team that might want another quarterback. So before Jon Gruden answers a question on Marcus Mariota -- should the Washington Redskins take him if he falls to No. 5 -- he makes one thing clear.

"When I answer this question, I’m not answering for Jay Gruden," he said of the Redskins’ coach. "Even though he is my brother we don’t collaborate on all these things."

Then Jon Gruden makes one more point clear:

"If any of these teams picking, I’d be surprised if they did not take Marcus Mariota. He is a rare prospect. He has some can’t-miss qualities, if you can bring him along and have just a little bit of patience to give him the correct direction. He could be one of the great quarterbacks of the future of the NFL."

Of course, Jon Gruden has been known to fall in love with a quarterback (or three). It only matters what his brother, and general manager Scot McCloughan, think of Mariota. But we already know there is a split on starter Robert Griffin III. And we know that the Redskins have yet to pick up his fifth-year option. If it’s such a no-brainer, it would have been done by now. Based on multiple people I’ve spoken to involved in the sport, it seems they are waiting to see what happens in the draft. And, if they have to trade him, they would want to leave the decision on the fifth-year option up to his new team. Another thought is that they wanted to see how he was upon returning for offseason workouts -- were there any changes in his game, physically or mentally?

Regardless, Mariota remains an option for Washington even though many expect him to be drafted No. 2 overall either by Tennessee or a team that makes a trade. Like Griffin, Mariota ran a spread offense in college. Like Griffin, there will be a need to transition to being able to operate in more ways than just on the move -- in the pocket, for example.

"This stereotype of Marcus as a spread quarterback that runs the read-option every play is ridiculous," Jon Gruden said. "He’s very poised. I’ve seen him go through progressions, and they run some common NFL route combinations. He put a lot of points on the board. He’s been asked to do a lot ... He learned the Oregon offense inside and out and he’ll learn your offense. It’s a matter of you teaching him and surrounding him with a good support system, good players, good contingency game-planning and he has an opportunity to be great."

The goal for any quarterback is to be surrounded by all of that, maximizing their chance for success. If the Redskins don’t draft a quarterback, that’s what they want for Griffin.

For what it’s worth, one quarterback Gruden likes late? Washington State’s Connor Halliday, who visited with the Redskins.

IRVING, Texas -- Just because the NFL announced a 10-game suspension for Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy doesn’t mean the full suspension will stand up to the impending appeal or potential court ruling.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said in a statement that the team was anticipating a suspension and “we respect the commissioner’s ruling. Our organization understands the very serious nature of this matter. We will use our resources -- work closely with Greg and with the league -- to ensure a positive outcome.”

Despite Jones’ statement, there has to be some surprise at the length of the suspension. Under the new personal conduct policy, a player’s first offense is a six-game suspension. The old policy was a two-game suspension.

[+] EnlargeGreg Hardy
David T. Foster, III/Charlotte Observer/Getty ImagesGreg Hardy has an incentive-laden deal with the Cowboys, and many of the benchmarks will be impossible to reach in six games.

Even though Hardy has not been penalized legally for the domestic violence case from the past spring, the NFL made him an example of their new, "get tough" stance after the league badly handled the Ray Rice episode last year.

If the suspension sticks, Hardy will miss 25 games over two seasons. He played one game last year for the Carolina Panthers, was inactive for another and was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list for the final 14.

Had the Cowboys known Hardy would be available for just six games, would they still have entered into his one-year deal, even if the contract is mostly pay-as-you-go?

The Cowboys were more than willing to stick out their chests in the one-year deal they reached with Hardy. They gave him no guaranteed money. His base salary is just $750,000. He could earn $1.311 million through a workout bonus and another $1.8 million in incentives.

The real money comes in the per-game roster bonuses totaling $9.5 million.

If Hardy played, he would get paid.

Under the suspension, Hardy can now make $3.468 million in roster bonuses for the six games. His base salary would be roughly $264,700. He would have to be otherworldly to cash in on the incentives. The low benchmark is $500,000 for eight sacks. He can earn $1 million for 10 sacks, $1.4 million for 12 sacks and $1.8 million for 14 or more sacks.

If he could get eight sacks in six games, the Cowboys would be ecstatic to pay him an extra $500,000.

But again, the chance of the suspension's being upheld is slim. Even if the appeal is denied, Hardy could take the case to court. Adrian Peterson won a court case not too long ago over the NFL's penalizing him under a personal conduct policy that was not in place when the incidents involving his children occurred.

In his letter to Hardy, Goodell said the actions were so egregious that a 10-game suspension was allowable under the former or current policy. That will be handled in the appeal or by the courts.

The Cowboys have to be bystanders in this. They need to respect Goodell’s ruling while also trying to support their player.

In the end, they hope to get more than just six games from Hardy in 2015, even if they can’t openly root for that to happen.

PHILADELPHIA -- Now that he’s practiced adding Heisman Trophy winners to his roster, what are the chances Chip Kelly gets the latest Heisman honoree in next week’s NFL draft?

We haven’t touched on Marcus Mariota that much lately, what with the Philadelphia Eagles' signing of 2007 Heisman winner Tim Tebow on Monday. But there were enough small developments on the Mariota front Wednesday to warrant an update.

Wednesday morning, ESPN's ace NFL reporter Adam Schefter said on 97.5 The Fanatic, the ESPN radio affiliate in Philadelphia, that he has come around on the idea of the Eagles trading up for Mariota.

"Count me in the camp that does consider it an option and a possibility," Schefter said Wednesday morning. "And I was not in that camp a month ago, but I've come over to that side."

It’s important to note Schefter doesn’t just comment on random ideas that pop into his head. He is constantly talking to people around the league -- coaches, executives, agents, etc. -- and getting their feel for what’s going on. So if he’s “come over” to the belief that Kelly will try hard to get Mariota, chances are that other, pretty plugged-in people have done the same.

Meanwhile, Portland Oregonian columnist John Canzano is a longtime observer of Kelly and Mariota. Canzano tweeted a thought about the pair.

This addresses Kelly’s often-repeated reluctance to “mortgage the future” by giving up a lot of draft picks and players for any one player. It is possible Kelly is bluffing when he says that. Canzano, who covered Kelly at Oregon, seems to think so.

Finally, there’s Mariota himself. He appeared on WFAN radio in New York and was asked what he would think about joining Kelly in Philadelphia. Mariota’s response? That would be “awesome,” he said.

So while it remains a long shot for the Eagles to move from the 20th pick up to the second or third, there remains a chance. And it’s interesting that people who know the league, who know Kelly and who know Mariota all seem to be thinking the same thing.

PHILADELPHIA – Normally, it’s relatively easy to evaluate a new NFL head coach as he takes over and then puts his stamp on a franchise. With Chip Kelly, of course, nothing follows the “normal” pattern.

The question is where Kelly is on the timeline for turning the Eagles into a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Coaches tend to get three to four years to show signs that their program is at least on the right path.

Did Kelly already do that by winning 10 games in each of his first two seasons? Did he earn a free pass by reaching the playoffs in his first NFL season? How does missing the playoffs in Year 2 affect that assessment? And what does that mean in terms of expectations as Kelly begins his third season?

These are key questions. Kelly’s predecessor, Andy Reid, reached the playoffs and won a wild-card game in his second season. In his third season, Reid took the Eagles to the first of four consecutive NFC Championship Games.

But Reid spent his first season rebuilding the offensive team he inherited from Ray Rhodes. He drafted Donovan McNabb, acquired new wide receivers and remade the entire offensive line. Signing right tackle Jon Runyan in 2000 was the move that completed the foundation-laying and made the Eagles into a contender.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsMeasuring the Eagles' progress under Chip Kelly could be tricky in 2015.

It was surprising in 2013 when Kelly seemed so passive about retooling the team he inherited from Reid. That team went 4-12 in 2012, but it wasn’t that far removed from the roster that went 10-6 and won the NFC East in 2010. Injuries to Michael Vick and along the offensive line turned 2012 into more of a disaster than the Eagles were.

But Kelly could have done what Reid did and taken a year or two to retool. He didn’t. He seemed determined to win as many games as possible with the players on hand. And he succeeded, going 10-6 with Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy and a defense that wasn’t exactly scaring anybody. It was a very promising first season in the NFL for Kelly.

Last season represented a bit of a step back. The Eagles had the same 10-6 record, but their inability to beat good teams (Seattle, Arizona, San Francisco, Green Bay) left them outside the playoff field.

So in Year 3, the same point Reid’s steady rebuild had the Eagles winning the NFC East with an 11-5 record and reaching the NFC title game, Kelly finally began his own rebuild. He traded for Sam Bradford and reconfigured his Achilles’ heel of a secondary. It is the kind of undertaking that might take a season or two to take shape.

That brings us back to those questions: How do you count those first two seasons? Do you start the clock on Kelly’s program now or has it been running for two years already?

One thing that’s on Kelly’s side: There weren’t a lot of options at quarterback when he took over the team. The 2013 draft class – E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon – wasn’t exactly loaded. Veterans Carson Palmer and Alex Smith changed teams via trades. Any of those quarterbacks might have looked pretty good running Kelly’s offense (Alex Smith and Manuel, especially), but none seems like an obvious, surefire upgrade from Foles and Michael Vick.

Last year, Kelly could have drafted Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr. But he had already signed Mark Sanchez and Foles was coming off that 27-interception, two-touchdown season.

Whether it’s Bradford or there’s still a maneuver to draft Marcus Mariota, Kelly has to stick with one of these quarterbacks for at least the medium-term. And at some point, he has to be judged on the progress he makes toward a Super Bowl.

That’s hard to do in a year when Kelly and the Eagles have decided to reset the clock.

IRVING, Texas -- Wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham is visiting the Dallas Cowboys after all.

Green-Beckham reportedly turned down the Cowboys' initial request for a pre-draft visit earlier, but, according to a source, he will arrive at Valley Ranch Wednesday. This is the final day potential picks can meet with teams with the draft coming next week.

Green-Beckham is one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft because of his ability and off-field concerns. He was dismissed from Missouri after two seasons in which he was arrested twice for marijuana-related incidents and was investigated for burglary. He spent last year at Oklahoma, did not play because of transfer rules but opted for the draft anyway.

He had 59 catches and 12 touchdowns in 2013 for Missouri. At the NFL scouting combine, he measured in at 6-5, 237 pounds with 4.49-second 40-yard dash and a 33.5 vertical jump.

Of the known pre-draft visitors to Valley Ranch, Green-Beckham is the second receiver, joining Ohio State's Devin Smith.

The Cowboys have Dez Bryant under contract through the franchise tag in 2014, re-signed Cole Beasley to a four-year deal before free agency began and have Terrance Williams under contract for two more years. They also drafted Devin Street in the fifth round last year. Bryant has yet to sign the tender and has not attended the first week of the Cowboys' offseason program.

A two-game improvement is quite a big one for the Washington Redskins, and it’s based mostly on what they’ve done defensively. Anything could happen with this team as they have numerous questions that are impossible to answer now -- and an implosion is always a quarterback change or three away.

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, Miami, 1 p.m.

Miami has an impressive defensive line with the addition of Ndamukong Suh. The Dolphins should be improved over last year and have a quarterback who, while not elite, has steadily improved in Ryan Tannehill. Dolphins 21, Redskins 17. Record: 0-1

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, St. Louis, 1 p.m.

The Redskins can’t afford to open the season with consecutive home losses. The Rams will test Washington’s pass protection, but the new-look Redskins defense will prove the difference against old foe Nick Foles. Redskins 20, Rams 16. Record: 1-1

Week 3: Thursday, Sept. 24, at New York Giants, 8:25 p.m.

The Giants have won four straight against the Redskins, including three in a row by double digits. It’s a new season, but we’ll take the proven quarterback-coach combo of Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin against a defense still trying to mesh. Giants 24, Redskins 17. Record: 1-2.

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

The Eagles’ great offseason experiment will yield stops and starts. This will be a stop. The Redskins should have better tackles in the nickel and, assuming another edge rusher is added in the draft, they should have speed to handle this attack. Redskins 28, Eagles 24. Record: 2-2.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, at Atlanta, 1 p.m.

Atlanta has a number of former Redskins coaches on its staff. Yes, it will mean something to them, especially offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. He’ll make this a dangerous offense. Falcons 30, Redskins 24. Record: 2-3.

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, at New York Jets, 1 p.m.

The Jets’ defense will rank among the NFL’s best and will harass quarterback Robert Griffin III all game. Don’t know where the Jets’ offense will come from, but the defense will be enough. Jets 20, Redskins 16. Record: 2-4.

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

No season is complete without a game vs. the Buccaneers. This time they’ll likely have a rookie quarterback starting (Jameis Winston) so that should be enjoyable. Winston has a lot to offer, but an improved pass rush will force rookie errors. Redskins 21, Bucs 14. Record: 3-4.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, at New England, 1 p.m.

The Patriots are just too good and will confound Griffin and the offense with a variety of looks. Surely, Pats coach Bill Belichick will remember a detail or two from practicing versus Washington in the 2014 camp. Patriots 27, Redskins 14. Record: 3-5.

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, New Orleans, 1 p.m.

An energized Drew Brees has the Saints looking more like a playoff team than a year ago. The Redskins will try to dominate on the ground in this game against a defense that struggled versus the run in 2014 (4.8 yards allowed per carry). It will make the game interesting. Saints 21, Redskins 20. Record: 3-6.

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, at Carolina, 1 p.m.

The Panthers won their last four games in 2014, perhaps a preview of this season. The Redskins' offense will need more help than just the run game in this one. Panthers 17, Redskins 16. Record: 3-7.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, New York Giants, 1 p.m.

Washington’s interior push should help against New York’s quick passing attack, enough to bother quarterback Eli Manning. Can they match up on the Giants’ receivers? The Redskins have a big day offensively. Redskins 28, Giants 20. Record: 4-7.

Week 13: Monday, Dec. 7, Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

The Redskins’ improved run defense, thanks to nose tackle Terrance Knighton, causes Dallas to sputter as the pass rush bothers quarterback Tony Romo. It’s the first divisional matchup between Dallas end Greg Hardy and Redskins left tackle Trent Williams. Redskins 24, Cowboys 21. Record: 5-7.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, at Chicago, 1 p.m.

John Fox is a respected head coach so the Bears should at least be competitive, depending on which Jay Cutler shows up. Redskins end Stephen Paea gets his first shot versus his former team. Bears 20, Redskins 17. Record: 5-8.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, Buffalo, 1 p.m.

The home finale is against another foe that will be one of the more intriguing teams with a new coach and a star runner in LeSean McCoy. The Bills should have an outstanding defense (again), but the Redskins’ defense should fare well in this matchup. Redskins 17, Bills 14. Record: 6-8.

Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 26, at Philadelphia, 8:25 p.m.

If the offseason additions work, the Eagles could be rolling at this point. Or not. Again, Terrance Knighton will be neutralized by the Eagles’ style. Eagles 24, Redskins 20. Record: 6-9.

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, at Dallas, 1 p.m.

If recent history is an indicator, this game will make or break Dallas’ season. And it’s at home. And we already have the Redskins beating Dallas in Washington. Cowboys 27, Redskins 17. Record: 6-10.

Chip KellyBenny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports

Breakdown: Every season takes on its own personality. You find out which teams were built to last and which weren't. So any predictions this time of year are based on assumptions that are very likely to evaporate by October. That said, things are set up here for the Philadelphia Eagles to get off to a pretty good start. They open on Monday night against Atlanta, which will be playing its very first game under new head coach Dan Quinn. While Quinn has a strong background as defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, it's a tall order to prepare for Chip Kelly's offense with no current game film to watch. How will the Eagles' offense with Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray look? After a tough (and oddly early) home game against Dallas in Week 2, the Eagles have two of their more winnable road games. They play the Jets and Washington, giving the Eagles a chance to get off to a 3-1 or even 4-0 start. That's not bad. A poor start can bury a team. A strong one can give it some serious momentum going into the heart of the schedule. The Eagles have the makings of a strong start in their schedule.

Complaint department: When the Eagles' schedule does get tough, it gets almost cruel. Perhaps the two toughest road games on the Eagles' schedule come back to back. The Eagles play on the road on Thanksgiving Day (for the second season in a row, mind you), facing the Detroit Lions. The payback for the short preparation week is a longer break before the next game. Except the next game for the Eagles is at New England on Dec. 6. The Eagles could rest for 20 days and still be underdogs to the Patriots. After an emotional game against LeSean McCoy and the Buffalo Bills, the Eagles host the Arizona Cardinals. That means three of four games where the Eagles could be underdogs, during the same point in the season when they folded last year. That's tough. Not impossible, but tough.

No jet lag: Last year's Eagles schedule, with games at San Francisco and Arizona, required about 8,600 air miles for the Eagles. This year's schedule requires about 3,150 miles, less than half of that. The Eagles' longest trip is to Dallas, which is a 1,300-mile trip they have to make every season. Football players don't have to travel as much as pro athletes in other sports. But it seems like more than a coincidence that in their longest trips last season, the Eagles came up short. They lost in San Francisco and blew a fourth-quarter lead in Arizona. Those were playoff-contending teams, but you couldn't help but think the Eagles might have won either or both games if they'd been played in Philadelphia. The Eagles' longest flight in the second half of the season is the 462-mile hop over to Detroit for the Thanksgiving game.

Strength of schedule: 23rd, .475

Eagles Regular-Season Schedule (all times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 14, at Atlanta, 7:10 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, Dallas, 4:25 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, at N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, at Washington, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, New Orleans, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Monday, Oct. 19, N.Y. Giants, 8:30 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, at Carolina, 8:30 p.m.
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, Miami, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 26, at Detroit, 12:30 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, at New England, 4:25 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, Arizona, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 26, Washington, 8:25 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, at N.Y. Giants, 1 p.m.

Predicting a season five months before it even starts with so many unknowns is impossible. There are too many twists and turns that will happen between now and the season opener. But that doesn't mean we can't have a little fun and go off what we think we know right now and make a guess. So with that in mind, hold on for a slow start but a fast finish by the Cowboys.

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13 vs. New York Giants, 8:30 p.m.

There was a time Eli Manning and the Giants owned AT&T Stadium. Not anymore. The Cowboys will make it five in a row against New York overall. Cowboys 31, Giants 23. Record: 1-0

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20 at Philadelphia Eagles, 4:25 p.m.

The story of the week will be DeMarco Murray, who led the NFL in rushing last year for the Cowboys but left as a free agent for the Eagles. But don’t be surprised if another former Cowboy, Miles Austin, has a big day. Eagles 33, Cowboys 27. Record: 1-1

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27 vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.

With a new coach, the Falcons could be a quick-turnaround team considering the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball. If they get better up front, then this will be a tougher game than many believe. Cowboys 31, Falcons 28. Record: 2-1

Week 4: Sunday Oct. 4 at New Orleans Saints, 8:30 p.m.

The Cowboys last trip to New Orleans was an embarrassment. They aren’t close to being the same team, but the same can be said about the Saints and not in a good way. Still, Drew Brees has some magic inside the Superdome. Saints 41, Cowboys 35. Record: 2-2

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11 vs. New England Patriots, 4:25 p.m.

Tom Brady will be making his first and likely last trip to AT&T Stadium for a regular-season game. The defending Super Bowl champs might have suffered some losses, but they are still the best-coached team in the league and know how to get it done. Patriots 31, Cowboys 27. Record 2-3

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25 at New York Giants, 4:25 p.m.

The Cowboys have won three in a row at MetLife Stadium and will desperately need to get to .500 with a win here. Coming off the bye week will be a big help. Cowboys 24, Giants 21. Record: 3-3

Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1 vs. Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m.

The Cowboys won at Seattle last year in a game kept close by some special-teams gaffes. As much as the Cowboys had an offensive formula to beat Seattle in 2014, the defense was outstanding. They get the job done at home versus Russell Wilson. Cowboys 24, Seahawks 20. Record: 4-3

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8 vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 8:25 p.m.

The Cowboys seem to have righted the ship with back-to-back wins and will welcome Murray to Arlington for the first time. The bigger question might be who is playing quarterback for the Eagles. Will Sam Bradford be healthy? Dare we wonder about Tim Tebow? Cowboys 38, Eagles 27. Record: 5-3

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.

Will the Cowboys get to see Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota? Probably Winston. They will get to see ex-teammates Bruce Carter, Henry Melton and Sterling Moore, who signed with the Bucs as free agents. Cowboys 34, Buccaneers 20. Record: 6-3

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22 at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.

The last time the Cowboys saw Ndamukong Suh was in the wild-card round in January against the Detroit Lions. He cashed in as a free agent with the Dolphins and will make that defense a lot tougher. So much so that Ryan Tannehill won’t have to carry the show: Dolphins 24, Cowboys 22. Record: 6-4

Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 26 vs. Carolina Panthers, 4:25 p.m.

Greg Hardy gets to go against his former team in front of a national audience. Do you think he will be fired up for this one? The Cowboys will need him to be at his best to pressure Cam Newton, who can beat a team with his legs and arm. Cowboys 30, Panthers 20. Record: 7-4

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 7 at Washington Redskins, 8:30 p.m.

No matter the record, this one will be difficult. They always are with the Redskins. But the Cowboys enter this game feeling pretty good and know they need a win with what awaits them next week. Dan Bailey wins it at the gun. Cowboys 24, Redskins 23. Record: 8-4

Week 14: Dec. 13 at Green Bay Packers, 4:25 p.m.

It would be sweet justice if the Cowboys win this game on a late-touchdown catch on a fourth-down play to Dez Bryant considering what happened at Lambeau Field in the divisional round of the playoffs. Of course, Aaron Rodgers figures to be healthy, too. Packers 33, Cowboys 24. Record: 8-5

Week 15: Dec. 19 vs. New York Jets, 8:25 p.m.

Todd Bowles had the Cowboys guessing wrong last year when he was Arizona’s defensive coordinator, but that was with Brandon Weeden as the Cowboys’ starter. The Darrelle Revis-Dez Bryant matchup will be a thing of beauty. Cowboys 23, Jets 16. Record: 9-5

Week 16: Dec. 27 at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.

How much snow will be on the ground? It won’t matter. The Cowboys are built to win on the ground and will be able to control the game. Tony Romo had five picks in his last trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium, but they still won. Cowboys 31, Bills 17. Record: 10-5

Week 17: Jan. 3 vs. Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.

After a 2-3 start, the Cowboys have gone 7-2 and are in position to earn a first-round bye with a win against the Redskins. Who knows if Robert Griffin III will still be the Washington quarterback. Regardless, the Cowboys wrap up a playoff spot. Cowboys 27, Redskins 16. Record: 11-5

It’s impossible to forecast anything but the record that Chip Kelly has posted in each of his first two seasons in the NFL. When you factor in all the change Kelly has brought about -- at quarterback, at running back, at wide receiver, in the defensive secondary -- the Eagles are especially difficult to project this year. So, 10-6 again.

Week 1: Monday, Sept. 14, at Atlanta, 7:10 p.m.

The Falcons have a new head coach, Dan Quinn. That makes this Monday night opener pretty hard to predict. The guess here is Quinn won’t have the Falcons quite up to speed. Eagles 24, Falcons 20. Record: 1-0.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, Dallas, 4:25 p.m.

These two NFC East rivals split their season series in 2013 and 2014, with each team losing at home. Also, Tony Romo didn’t play at Dallas in 2013 and played with a back injury in 2014. Cowboys 31, Eagles 26. Record: 1-1.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, at New York Jets, 1 p.m.

Todd Bowles had a tough time as the Eagles' defensive coordinator. He’s going to have an even tougher time as head coach of the Jets until he’s able to find a real quarterback. Eagles, 27, Jets 13. Record: 2-1.

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, at Washington, 1 p.m.

The lingering stench from the Eagles’ performance at FedEx Field in December finally has been cleared away. Sam Bradford continues the Eagles' tradition of quarterbacks having great debuts at Washington. Eagles 31, Washington 17. Record: 3-1.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, New Orleans, 1 p.m.

The Eagles’ makeover got a lot of attention, but the Saints were every bit as active this offseason. The Eagles won’t have to worry about Jimmy Graham, but they still have to deal with Drew Brees. Saints 28, Eagles 24. Record: 3-2.

Week 6: Monday, Oct. 19, New York Giants, 8:30 p.m.

The Eagles’ rebuilt secondary will have its work cut out for it with Odell Beckham Jr. running around. If the Eagles lose this one, it might be a very different season than we’re thinking. Eagles 35, Giants 30. Record: 4-2.

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, at Carolina Panthers, 8:30 p.m.

Back-to-back prime-time games for the Eagles, who took the Panthers apart at the Linc last year. The result won’t be quite as one-sided this time, but the Eagles should still have the edge. Eagles 27, Panthers 17. Record: 5-2.

Week 8: Bye week.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

That’s three consecutive prime-time games for the Eagles, and this is the earliest their Dallas series has been finished in memory. Chip Kelly is undefeated at AT&T Stadium and has DeMarco Murray on his side this time. Eagles 27, Cowboys 20. Record: 6-2.

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, Miami, 1 p.m.

Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was previously the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach. He might think he came to the wrong stadium when he sees Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow warming up. Eagles 31, Dolphins 27. Record: 7-2.

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

This should be the most sure thing on the Eagles’ schedule. Unless Jameis Winston sets the league on fire as a rookie, that is. Eagles 28, Buccaneers 13. Record: 8-2.

Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 26, at Detroit, 12:30 p.m.

After two home wins against teams from Florida, the Eagles get a short week before playing the Lions on Thanksgiving. The Eagles beat the Lions in a blizzard in 2013. It won’t be snowing in Ford Field. Lions 27, Eagles 24. Record: 8-3.

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, at New England, 4:25 p.m.

It’s tempting to predict that Tim Tebow will lead the Eagles to a comeback win against his old team. But the extra rest after Thanksgiving is pretty much wasted in this one. Patriots 34, Eagles 23. Record: 8-4.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, Buffalo, 1 p.m.

Prediction: There will be some stories about LeSean McCoy in the buildup to this game. The Bills' defense will be interesting to watch working against Chip Kelly’s offense, but it’s still hard to picture the Bills winning. Eagles 23, Bills 13. Record: 9-4.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, Arizona, 1 p.m.

Assuming a healthy Carson Palmer at quarterback, expect the Cardinals to move ahead of San Francisco in the competitive NFC West. The Eagles beat them at the Linc two years ago, but that was a very different Eagles team. Cardinals 28, Eagles 23. Record: 9-5.

Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 26, Washington, 8:25 p.m.

The Eagles’ December loss to Washington last year was really the low point of their season-ruining collapse. It shouldn’t happen again. Eagles 34, Washington 20. Record: 10-5.

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, at New York Giants, 1 p.m.

This could be for the division title. The Giants’ offense really seemed to be coming together late in the 2014 season. The guess here is it takes another step forward in 2015, and the Eagles' defense is still a step behind it. Giants 30, Eagles 28. Record: 10-6.


2015 NFL regular-season predictions

April, 21, 2015
Apr 21

NFL Nation reporters predict the regular-season record for the team they cover. Each prediction was made independent of the predictions of their colleagues.

NFC Picks: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


11-5. The Cowboys will have to answer questions at running back and cornerback and make sure Dez Bryant is happy, but the schedule-maker has been somewhat favorable. They have back-to-back games against teams with winning records in 2014 just once (Seattle and Philadelphia in Weeks 8-9). In the second half of the season, they play just two teams that had winning records in 2014. Based off what we know now, the Cowboys could win consecutive NFC East titles. -- Todd Archer | Game-by-game picks

8-8. As I always do, because the NFC East is always unpredictable and this is the only fair way I know to do this in April, I started by giving the Giants a 3-3 record (three home wins, three road losses) in the division. After that, the road games that look the scariest are the one in New Orleans the day after Halloween (how will they get any sleep?) and the outdoor one in Minneapolis on Dec. 27. I see them starting fairly quickly thanks to getting three of the first four games at home. Things start to get dicey when the Super Bowl champion Patriots show up at MetLife in Week 10. -- Dan Graziano | Game-by-game picks

10-6. It’s impossible to forecast anything but the record that Chip Kelly has posted in each of his first two seasons in the NFL. When you factor in all the change Kelly has brought about -- at quarterback, at running back, at wide receiver, in the secondary -- the Eagles are especially difficult to project this year. So, 10-6 again. -- Phil Sheridan | Game-by-game picks

6-10. I like the defensive additions, and if they fix some lingering issues in the draft (line, edge rusher), then they can do better. But Jay Gruden still must prove himself as a head coach and quarterback Robert Griffin III must prove he can be an effective passer after two down years. Until we see some proof in camp, it’s hard to go above this win total. -- John Keim | Game-by-game picks


7-9. Head coach John Fox’s trademark phrase is “understate and overproduce.” Expect Chicago to improve, but a tricky opening three weeks of the schedule against Green Bay, Arizona and Seattle does not look promising for a club in rebuild mode after a horrible 5-11 effort in 2014. -- Jeff Dickerson | Game-by-game picks

8-8. If the Detroit Lions are able to manage this schedule and make a second consecutive playoff appearance, they will have done it despite two brutal stretches coming at the beginning and the end of the season. Looking at the schedule, the Lions could start 1-4 and still contend for a playoff berth, but it won’t be enough. -- Michael Rothstein | Game-by-game picks

11-5. The Packers won’t be able to run the table at home like they did last year, not with the Seattle Seahawks coming to Lambeau Field. In fact, NFC West teams Arizona and San Francisco could account for three of the Packers’ five losses. Nevertheless, this looks like the best team in the NFC North again. -- Rob Demovsky | Game-by-game picks

9-7. The Vikings have a tough opening stretch -- they don’t play a team with a 2014 losing record until Week 8 -- but they’ll get to weather that stretch with three of their first five at home. That, combined with a late-season slate including three 2014 playoff teams in the final five weeks, will be the key to the season. -- Ben Goessling | Game-by-game picks


8-8. The Falcons and new coach Dan Quinn will benefit from playing eight teams that finished below .500 last season, but that doesn't necessarily mean things will be easy. A season-opening Monday Night Football matchup against Chip Kelly and the quick-strike Philadelphia Eagles will be a test of how quickly Quinn can improve the defense, though the Falcons should benefit from playing in front of a fired-up Georgia Dome crowd in Week 1. The Falcons should be able to finish above .500 in the NFC South, particularly if Tampa Bay goes with a rookie quarterback such as Jameis Winston. -- Vaughn McClure | Game-by-game picks

10-6. The Panthers return 10 of 11 starters from a defense that finished 10th in the NFL and nine of 11 starters from an offense that helped Carolina win five of the final six games in 2014. That continuity, along with a weak division and overall schedule ranked 27th in the league, should make Carolina the NFC South champion for the third straight year. -- David Newton | Game-by-game picks

10-6. The Saints are a bigger question mark than usual after a 7-9 meltdown and offseason makeover. They still might have the most talent in the NFC South, starting with QB Drew Brees. But they have to regain the home dominance that disappeared last season. (They have the NFL’s second-easiest home schedule based on 2014 win percentage). -- Mike Triplett | Game-by-game picks

8-8. The Bucs have the nucleus to have a very good defense, led by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David. If they can get some offensive production from a rookie quarterback (Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota), they should be much more competitive than last year and be one of the league’s most improved teams. -- Pat Yasinskas | Game-by-game picks


9-7. Winnable games are evenly distributed throughout, but around every winning corner is a game or two that Arizona likely will lose. The final three games against the Eagles, Packers and Seahawks could dictate the Cardinals’ NFC standing. -- Josh Weinfuss | Game-by-game picks

7-9. There is no grace period for the 49ers, who have the league’s third-hardest strength of schedule, in breaking in new head coach Jim Tomsula while dealing with major roster turnover. Not when they open the season on ESPN’s Monday Night Football with a home game against the Minnesota Vikings and do not enjoy their bye week until after nine games. -- Paul Gutierrez | Game-by-game picks

11-5. Nine games come against 2014 playoff teams and five of the road games come against teams that won at least 10 games last season. The Seahawks open with two road games for the first time since 2011 and have to end the season with three of the last five on the road, including the season finale at Arizona. -- Terry Blount | Game-by-game picks

8-8. It's not going out on much of a limb to predict this team to finish in the .500 range though they haven't done it since 2006. This is a defense that's ready to win now. Barring a major uptick in offensive production, it's hard to see how the Rams take a much-needed next step in the fourth year of the Jeff Fisher regime. -- Nick Wagoner | Game-by-game picks


9-7. Rex Ryan’s new-look Bills will face a tall task early in the season when they host the Colts and Patriots to kick off their 2015 slate. If they can weather the early storm, and also a late-season stretch of five road games in six weeks, they stand a chance of making the playoffs. -- Mike Rodak | Game-by-game picks

9-7. I like the talent on this year’s team -- especially with the addition of Ndamukong Suh -- but depth and coaching are still question marks. Can fourth-year coach Joe Philbin get Miami to 10 wins and the playoffs with a challenging schedule? I’m not so sure. -- James Walker | Game-by-game picks

11-5. A Week 4 bye, which is as early as it can come, generally isn’t ideal. Back-to-back prime-time games in late November -- against Rex Ryan’s Bills in Foxborough, and then against Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Denver -- will be a challenge, as they will be the seventh and eighth consecutive games played after that bye. -- Mike Reiss | Game-by-game picks

8-8. With an improved secondary, the Jets will double their win total from last season. But uncertainty at quarterback, coupled with an improved AFC East, makes the playoffs out of the question in 2015. -- Rich Cimini | Game-by-game picks


9-7. The combination of four trips out west (including two back-to-back), an opening stretch of five road games in the first seven weeks and a total of five games against teams with losing records make this the toughest schedule in coach John Harbaugh’s eight seasons. This isn’t a playoff team right now, but the Ravens do their best work at this time of the offseason. -- Jamison Hensley | Game-by-game picks

10-6. With a timely bye, a veteran roster and some favorable late-season matchups, the Bengals can get 10 wins even after going 5-5 heading into Thanksgiving. Despite prime-time road games in Weeks 15 and 16 (the Bengals are 1-12 on the road at night since 2005), they still can go 5-1 to close out the regular season. -- Coley Harvey | Game-by-game picks

4-12. The Browns might answer their quarterback question by opening day, but as of today it’s a black hole that needs filling. That, the lack of a potent offense in an era of offense and a difficult schedule means the Browns take steps back this season. -- Pat McManamon | Game-by-game picks

9-7. All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell will miss up to the first three games of the season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy and All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown is unhappy with his contract with three years still left on it. What should concern the Steelers more is they have enough questions at outside linebacker and in their secondary to fill a show of "Jeopardy," not to mention a demanding schedule in which they open at New England and play five of their last six games against teams that made the playoffs in 2014. -- Scott Brown | Game-by-game picks


10-6. Last year I undershot, predicting 8-8 while the Texans went 9-7 despite dramatic quarterback turmoil. There are some significant pieces missing right now (like the name of the starting quarterback) but as things stand now, I expect the Texans to be better and take advantage of having the third-easiest schedule in the league. -- Tania Ganguli | Game-by-game picks

13-3. The Colts have the talent to finish with one of the best records in the NFL, and the schedule definitely favors them. Indianapolis opens the season at Buffalo instead of playing there in the dead of winter in December. The Colts get New England and Denver at home and they finish the season with two of their last three games at Lucas Oil Stadium. -- Mike Wells | Game-by-game picks

7-9. The Jaguars’ strength of schedule ranks 25th, and that’s a good thing for a franchise that is going to be relying upon a lot of second-year players on offense, including quarterback Blake Bortles and three receivers. The Jaguars get the NFC South, which didn’t have a single team reach .500 last season, and have two games against Tennessee and another against the New York Jets. If Bortles can go from the league’s worst starter (21.9 QBR) to a middle-of-the-pack quarterback, then the Jaguars can legitimately challenge .500. -- Michael DiRocco | Game-by-game picks

5-11. Two things will make the 2015 Titans three games better than the 2014 version. The defense is already discernibly better. There should be four new starters from free agency and returning from injury, with potential for more in the draft. And regression to the mean says Tennessee will improve. -- Paul Kuharsky | Game-by-game picks


13-3. The Broncos have won four consecutive AFC West titles and, at least at first blush, have the schedule to make it five in a row. That would be historic in context given the Broncos have not made the playoffs in five consecutive seasons in the franchise’s history. If the Broncos get past four road games in the first six weeks of the season in good shape, they get the heavyweights at home and finish with three of the last four at home. -- Jeff Legwold | Game-by-game picks

9-7. The NFL did the Chiefs no favors with the first four-week stretch of the season. Included is a Thursday night home game against the Denver Broncos and road games with the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals. It’s difficult to imagine the Chiefs will start better than 2-2. The road gets much easier from there. -- Adam Teicher | Game-by-game picks

6-10. The Raiders have won a total of 11 games in three seasons. They are starting another coaching era, this time with Jack Del Rio, who was head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-11. This schedule is not nearly as difficult as last year’s, the toughest in the NFL. The Raiders have some winnable games and with young foundation players, quarterback Derek Carr and linebacker Khalil Mack, the Raiders should double their win total from 2014. -- Bill Williamson | Game-by-game picks

8-8. With the potential of Philip Rivers moving on in 2015, the Chargers face four of last year's playoff teams as part of the team's road schedule. So it will not be an easy task to win away from Qualcomm Stadium against a daunting schedule, perhaps with a rookie quarterback. With Rivers, San Diego finished 4-4 on the road in 2014. -- Eric D. Williams | Game-by-game picks

Dallas Cowboys schedule analysis

April, 21, 2015
Apr 21

Tony Romo, Patrick WillisAP Photo/LM OteroTony Romo's interception against the 49ers taught him a lesson about trusting the run game.

Breakdown: For the third time in the past four seasons, the Dallas Cowboys will open the season against the New York Giants, with their NFC East rivals visiting AT&T Stadium in Week 1. The Giants won their first four games at AT&T Stadium but have lost their last two in Arlington, Texas, and four in a row to the Cowboys overall.

The Cowboys will meet DeMarco Murray in Week 2 at Philadelphia, so that emotion will be taken away early. The bye week comes after they play the New England Patriots in Week 5, giving them an extra week to get ready for their trip to New York.

Always a national draw, the Cowboys have their requisite five games on prime time, with three games on NBC and a game each on ESPN and NFL Network. They could have a sixth, depending on the flex scheduling late in the season.

Complaint department: It’s difficult to come up with big complaints. Last year was easy: The Cowboys had a night game on the road leading into their Thanksgiving game against the Eagles and played like a team without any chance. Maybe we can call this the quibble department. Seeing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving would have been more special than a Week 5 meeting. The toughest two-game spell looks to be Nov. 1 against the Seattle Seahawks and Nov. 8 against the Eagles, but both of those games are at home. If there is a complaint on the Cowboys’ end, it can only be mild in that they have a short week to get ready for their return trip to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers after facing the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football. They follow up the Green Bay game with a Saturday meeting against the New York Jets on Dec. 19. But if that’s the biggest complaint, things aren’t that bad for the Cowboys.

Closing time: For years, the Cowboys had a rough time in December -- in part because they weren’t good enough, but in part because of the quality of teams they faced. Last year, the Cowboys had three of their four December games on the road in cold-weather cities and won all three, mixed in with a home victory over Indianapolis. They have three cold-weather games this year, at Washington on Dec. 7, at Green Bay on Dec. 13 and at Buffalo on Dec. 27. They also play the New York Jets and close the season against Washington. The combined record of the Bills, Jets and Redskins last year was 17-31. If the Cowboys can make it through the early part of the season, they might be able to close strong again.

Strength of schedule: 24th, .467

Cowboys Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, N.Y. Giants, 8:30 p.m.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, at Philadelphia, 4:25 p.m.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, Atlanta, 1:00 p.m.

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, at New Orleans, 8:30 p.m.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, New England, 4:25 p.m.

Week 6: BYE

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, at N.Y. Giants, 4:25 p.m.

Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, Seattle, 4:25 p.m.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m.

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, at Tampa Bay, 1:00 p.m.

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, at Miami, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 26, Carolina, 4:30 p.m.

Week 13: Monday, Dec. 7, at Washington, 8:30 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.

Week 15: Saturday, Dec. 19, N.Y. Jets, 8:25 p.m.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Buffalo, 1:00 p.m.

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, Washington, 1:00 p.m.