To quote Tom Hanks from the 1994 movie, Forrest Gump, (The NFC East) “Is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.” Here is a list of the NFC East Division winners over the past 9 years.
2008 New York Giants 12-4.
2009 Dallas Cowboys 11-5.
2010 Philadelphia Eagles 10-6.
2011 New York Giants 9-7.
2012 Washington Redskins 10-6.
2013 Philadelphia Eagles 10-6.
2014 Dallas Cowboys 12-4.
2015 Washington Redskins 9-7.
2016 Dallas Cowboys 13-3.
There hasn’t been a back- to- back winner in the NFC East since the Eagles did it four times from 2001-2005. No team has appeared in the Super Bowl since the Giants defeated the Patriots 21-17 in 2011.
The only consistent thing about this division is its inconstancy over who is the “Top Dog” every year.
NFC East Preview/Prediction:
New York Giants (Last season 11-5)… 2017 prediction, 11-5.
The Giants spent over $200 million last season to bolster their defense and it paid dividends. “Big Blue” was 2nd in the league, only behind the Patriots (250 points) allowing 284 points in 16 games. Their defense was led by play-making safety Landon Collins and a trio of cover corners in Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. If defensive coordinator Steve Spagnulo can figure out a way to get pressure on opposing team’s QB’s, the Giants could have one of the best defenses in all of football.
On offense, the Giants need to find a running game. 2nd year player Paul Perkins out of UCLA should get plenty of time with the 1st unit in the pre-season. Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa could carry the load as well. The receiving group could be the best in the NFL. Odell Beckham Jr. had 288 catches and 35 touchdowns in his first 3 seasons. Beckham could be the best WR in the NFL this year because players like Brandon Marshall and Sterling Sheppard (65 receptions and 8 touchdowns in his rookie year) will demand coverage. You can no longer double team OBJ all game because both Marshall and Sheppard could carry the team in a quarter or half. Rookie TE Evan Ingram could be just what the Giants need at that position.He is 6’3 240lbs and should be another target in the Red Zone and on 3rd downs. Eli Manning is on the back 9 of his career but I expect him to throw for close to 4,500 yards and have 40 touchdown passes. The Giants are the most complete team in their division.
Dallas Cowboys (Last Season 13-3) …2017 prediction, 11-5 Wild Card
Last season, the Cowboys had the perfect blueprint on building a team for the future. With a rookie quarterback, Dak Prescott, a rookie running back, Ezekiel Elliott, and a great offensive line, they exceeded all expectations and won the NFC East.
Cowboys lost 11 players in free agency and two to retirement, including 2 on their offensive line. That is a lot of teammates to lose when you win 13 games. However, the good news for the Cowboys is their “Big Three” on offense. Prescott had 23 touchdown passes and only 4 interceptions in his rookie campaign. He also completed 67.8 percent of his passes. He played like a veteran last year and that is high praise for any young quarterback. Elliot won rookie of the year and it was well deserved. He averaged over 5.1 yards per rush, had 15 touchdowns and ran for 1631 yards. Back up Darren McFadden can be a solid replacement and if Elliot gets suspended because of off the field issues, look for the former Arkansas running back to put up good numbers. The question here is Dez Bryant. It is widely believed that Bryant is a number 1 receiver on any team, but he only caught 50 passes on the year. TE, Jason Witten, had 69 receptions last season but at 35 years old, I expect him to take a step back.
The Cowboys will battle for the division and or the Wild Card but they will not repeat last year’s win total.
Washington Redskins (Last season 8-7-1) …2017 prediction 9-7.
The Redskins finished the season 3rd in total offense and 2nd in passing yard. Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 4,917 yards, with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Cousins signed a 1-year $23 million contract and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Former Ohio State quarterback Terrell Pryor has joined the skins and should be their number 1 option at wide receiver. Pryor caught 77 passes and had over 1,000 yards for a terrible Cleveland Browns team in 2016. Rob Kelley should start the season as the starter in the backfield. Last season after taking over the starting role, Kelly was 9th in rushing yards and tied for 9th in TD’s. He was also 10th in yards after contact. He could have a break out year in this high-powered offense.
The Redskins can be a borderline playoff team but only if their defense improves. They gave up 377 yards per game last year, which was 5th most in the NFL. 1st year defensive coordinator, Greg Manusky has been promoted from linebacker’s coach. Manusky was the defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts from 2012-2015. Redskins went heavy on defense in the 2017 draft, selecting a lineman (Alabama’s Jonathan Allen), a linebacker (Alabama’s Ryan Anderson) and a cornerback (UCLA’s Fabian Moreau) with their first three picks.
If all goes well the “Skins” could battle to the last week of the season for a playoff spot. But, if they don’t make the playoffs, do they let Cousins walk or resign him to a long-term deal?
Philadelphia Eagles (Last Season 7-9)… 2017 prediction 8-8.
After the 1st month of the 2016 season both the Minnesota Vikings and Eagles were happy with trading Sam Bradford and elevating rooking Carson Wentz to the starting QB Position. The Vikings started the season 5-0 and the Eagles went 3-2 in their first five games. Wentz is the same size as Ben Roethlisberger, he is 6’5 240lbs. He set an NFL record for most completions in a season (379) and the Eagles have added weapons around him. They signed veteran wide outs Alshon Jefferies and Torrey Smith. They also acquired running back LeGarrette Blount from the New England Patriots. Blount is 6’0 250lbs and workhorse when called upon. He also had 18 touchdowns last yea.r so look for him to get the ball inside the Red Zone. TE, Zach Erzt had 78 receptions and should put up similar numbers in 2017. The Eagles offense should carry this team, their defense still has a few holes but Wentz should improve a great deal. The future is bright for Philadelphia but they are still a year or two away from the playoffs…minimum. Wentz is the future and could be an all-pro very soon.
Whoever wins this division their quarterback should get some MVP talk.
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