by Kyle Stafford
Last season, the Cowboys cruised to an NFC East title with a 13-3 record and the number one overall seed in the NFC playoffs. The Giants finished right behind them at 11-5, ultimately losing in the Wild Card game. The Redskins couldn’t seem to put it all together finishing 8-7-1 and the Eagles struggled down the stretch after a hot start to finish 7-9. This season should include a much tighter divisional race and possibly come down to the very end. Here are my NFC East predictions for the upcoming season.
1. Philadelphia Eagles – 11-5
Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz is back for his second season in the NFL and has plenty of weapons around him. General Manager, Howie Roseman, went to work in the offseason adding exactly what this team needed, playmakers offensively. They added Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith to a receiving corp that already included a nice complimentary piece in Jordan Matthews. The running game was another area of weakness for this club, but the signing of LaGarrett Blount to compliment the speedy Darren Sproles was another great pickup that will ultimately make this offense extremely dangerous this season. And don’t forget about a guy they drafted in Donnel Pumphrey, who finished his college career as the nation’s all-time leading rusher.
2. Dallas Cowboys – 10-6 (Wild Card Team)
Even with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot returning after impressive rookie campaigns, I don’t think the Cowboys can win the division two years in a row. For starters, their schedule is much tougher than it was a year ago and the main concern for this Cowboys team is the defensive side of the ball. Not only did they lose several key players from their secondary a year ago, but they also have a few defenders facing or serving suspensions from the NFL. The defensive depth will be tested for this team and rookies will have to step up and make plays in the secondary. Also, the status of Ezekiel Elliot is still up in the air as the league has yet to make a ruling which could impact the team as well even if it is only a couple games. Dak Prescott will take a step back as defenses have had more time to adjust to his style of play, but still should have a solid year behind that great offensive line.
3. New York Giants – 9-7
In the offseason, the Giants bolstered their receiving corp by adding Brandon Marshall. Alongside Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard, this team boasts one of if not the best receiver group in the league. But, a tough schedule will lower their chances at a divisional title and ultimately keep them out of the postseason. The running game needs to improve this season and the defense will have to put together another performance like last season if the Giants want to make a run at the divisional crown.
4. Washington Redskins – 7-9
Can the front office for the Redskins just make up their mind about Kirk Cousins? I mean what more do you want from the guy who has already proven he is deserving of a long term deal? If it is because he isn’t winning enough games, that just isn’t fair because how can he win games with a defense that ranked 28th in yards allowed per game? Cousins has the talent around him offensively, despite losing a couple key receivers, to make this team competitive - Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder, Rob Kelley, draftee SamajePerine, and free agent signee Terrelle Pryor. That offense is going to put up numbers this season, but there isn’t enough there defensively for me to trust Washington. Now, the defense should be improved this year with the addition of Jonathan Allen, Ryan Anderson, and Fabian Moreau who they drafted with their first three picks this past year. But, it will take some time for those guys to get adjusted to the speed of the league and it is hard to put the fate of the defense on the shoulder of rookies. Maybe next season for Washington.