I'm going to preface what I'm writing here by making sure everyone knows that I KNOW there are a million "prediction" threads down below, but I feel this deserves it's own thread because of my perspective on last year's team & results vs. the prospects of this year's team.
We were literally 4 plays away from being 9-7 last year - and that has been well documented and discussed here, especially over the winter and in the offseason. The plays/games:
1) Carolina, last second FG loss.
2) @ the Eagles, last second FG loss.
3) @ Indy, last minute TD loss.
4) Dallas, @ home, the Cole Beasley play in the final 2 minutes.
Flip those outcomes, you have a 9-7 team that would've been a wildcard team.
Fast forward to this year, many units on this team have improved and/or gotten younger. The offensive line is vastly improved, and this will only translate into longer, clock eating drives with the running game. Add in a healthy Evan Engram, and a solid receiver corps that can COLLECTIVELY make plays and move the chains, and you have a very good offense that can move the ball on a regular basis.
There is no question the defense fits the latter description with their youth, and with that youth comes basically NO NFL experience. The defense is without question a crapshoot, however I think this group will play with more speed, will take more chances, and will not run out of gas (due to their youth) as quickly as the other units did last year. The big question is whether they can get a consistent pass rush going without adding pressure from the outside. But if they can get it together, and keep it together, this defense can be serviceable.
With an easier schedule, and a lot of upside on both sides of the ball, I honestly think this team can "flip" those close losses from last year and finish this season above .500. I know my perspective may really be through "rose colored glasses" but this take, to me, seems like pure common sense based on what we had last year, and what we have this year.
Feel free to fire away!