NFC East Predictions

Philadelphia Eagles

What a year 2019 was for the Eagles. Most fans were shocked at the end of the season when the Eagles snatched the division title from the Cowboys. Philadelphia had so many injuries that most people could not even name one receiver on the final roster at the end of the season. They were so desperate they were playing with three tight-ends by the end of the year. But with heroic moments from players like Boston Scott, Greg Ward Jr., and Miles Sanders, the team captured the division title. They ended the season on a four-game winning streak. One of those wins was a Week 15 win over the Cowboys to pass them for first in the division. Then, one week later they defeated the Giants 34-17 to seal the top spot. Despite the great heroics from 40-year-old backup quarterback Josh McCown, the Eagles lost to the Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs, 17-9. Carson Wentz left the game with a concussion, which started some controversy around the Eagles fanbase. Some fans were questioning the toughness of Wentz, and some speculating that he was not truly hurt. But with a season that was hit with the injury bug, the Eagles had a great season making the playoffs and winning the division. Going into the 2020 season, there are some questions. The most important one being depth in the wide receiver department. So far, that is off to a rocky start. They lost Nelson Agholor to the Raiders in free agency. Also, with Alshon Jeffery’s and Desean Jackson’s history with injuries, this team needs some assurance out wide for Wentz. Wentz still has All-Pro tight-end Zack Ertz coming back for another season. However, Ertz’s injury history is starting to be put into question. Although he is a tough competitor who plays through a lot of injuries, could the Eagles start to give Dallas Goedert more snaps. When he stepped in to play, he looked really good, like a young tight-end whose career is just starting to take off, making big plays downfield. Now, I’m not saying Ertz had a bad year. His numbers were still good with 916 receiving yards and 88 receptions. But I am saying is he will be turning 30 next season, which is typically the age where we start to see player production decline. Would this be a good time for the Eagles to possibly trade him, since he still has value, knowing what Goedert brings to the table? This could be something to think about. Many are starting to question if the front office made the right choice in keeping Wentz over Nick Foles. Wentz was once the favorite to win the MVP trophy, but like most of his career, that talk stopped due to injury. I think if the Eagles can stay healthy and give Wentz a couple play makers out wide, this team has the potential make another run in the playoffs. On the defensive side, the Eagles made a major pickup in Darrius Slay, arguably one of the top-3 corners in the game. That box can be checked off. He can shutdown teams’ best receivers. They also picked up another solid corner in Nickell Robey-Coleman. He is a quick, durable corner who will pair nicely with Slay on the other side. The questions remaining are still getting some help for Wentz at the receiver position, offensive line, and some pass rushing help on defense. In one of the weaker divisions in football, the Eagles should be a top contender in the division.

Record Prediction: 8-8

Dallas Cowboys

The most talked about team in the league – Dallas. Every year analysts, fans, and non-fans, talk about the Cowboys. They’re always in the news, whether it’s about a player or Jerry Jones. This year has been no different so far. The talk around the Cowboys is getting a deal done with Dak Prescott and the hiring of new head coach Mike McCarthy. After a disappointing 2019 season for former head coach Jason Garrett, McCarthy comes in with a lot of pressure on him. Fans are ready for a Super Bowl run. Every year the Cowboys are one of the favorites to win it all, but every year they fall short. Last season, they lost a game to the Eagles in Week 15, which ended up determining who would win the division and go to the playoffs. With a team who had tons of talent on both ends of the ball, it was a major disappointment. However, going into the 2020 season, there are tons of questions surrounding the Cowboys. With defense being one of the top question marks, the Cowboys traded away Robert Quinn, one of their best defensive linemen, to the Bears. They not only lost Quinn, but they also lost Bryon Jones, a key component to the defense. There are also questions regarding the return of Leighton Vander Esch who suffered a neck injury last season. Despite the injury, I do believe he’ll return ready to play at the elite level. Now, the Cowboys did make a couple of good free agent moves. They signed defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein at kicker. But the one thing they haven’t done is get Dak Prescott signed to a long-term deal. I firmly believe that if they do not get Prescott the deal he wants, and honestly deserves, he’ll stall and withhold playing. Based on his numbers last season, he definitely has proven enough to get a long-term deal. The Cowboys already have one of the best offensive lines in football and one of the best running backs in Ezekiel Elliott. But without Dak, this offense is not the same. Dak is a playmaker who never misses a game. The Cowboys would be foolish to not sign him to a great deal. Dak has a lot of pressure off of his shoulder when Elliott is in the backfield, a guy who has great strength, quickness, and vision. At any given moment, Zeke can rip a run up the middle and be off to the races. He also is a great check down back for Prescott when nothing is open downfield. However, Zeke is not the only offensive weapon on the team. They also have Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Both racked up more than 1,000 receiving yards each last season and accounted for 14 touchdowns combined. The remainder of the offseason should be spent getting Dak Signed and working on the defense. The Cowboys look to turn the franchise around this year with a proven championship-caliber coach and a high powered offense.

Record Prediction: 10-6

New York Giants

Now, here is a team who is flirting with rebuilding. The Giants ended 2019 with a 4-12 record. The Giants on the offensive side are very intriguing. They have a top-5 running back in Saquon Barkley. He ran for 1,003 yards last season. He probably would have racked up more but injuries played a part in that. Barkley is the prize possession on this team. He’s a big, strong and elusive back who has great vision. He can also run and catch out of the backfield. Barkley is already a star who will eventually be a league MVP, no doubt. The Eli Manning era has officially ended in New York. Now, it is Daniel Jones’ turn to lead this team. Jones stepped in and played great for the first few games, making incredible throws and staying strong in the pocket when it was collapsing. But he also showed us that he is still a young player who has some rookie issues, which is normal. Jones struggles holding onto the ball, whether it’s fumbling the ball or throwing an interception. But what do you expect with a team whose offensive line was ranked 17th in 2019? The Giants, however, do have some solid weapons out wide when healthy. Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate all are great weapons that can get open and make big plays downfield. I still think they need to get a proven star out wide to make life a little bit easier for Jones. Going into next season, the Giants are looking to head coach Joe Judge. He coached for the New England Patriots last season as the special teams coach and will now be leading the charge for the Giants. Many people are skeptical of the hiring choice. He is a coach with little experience and has a lot to prove. But to me that is okay, having a coach who has a lot to prove is good, because the players on this team know they have a lot to prove as well. It’s no secret going into 2020 that the Giants are in need of players to improve the offensive line and help on defense. I think still after the 2020 draft, the Giants are still a few years out from competing for a division title and playoff spot. They just built the coaching staff and still have tons of unanswered questions on the line, defense, and getting Jones some help out wide. An interesting consideration for them would be someone like Antonio Brown. While he’s proven to be a burden to teams, he’s also proven to be top-tier. Brown, while a risky choice, would give this young QB someone he can turn to for big plays and confidence. Time is ticking for the Giants, who have a generational type player in Barkley. We have seen running backs’ production fall when they get to age 30, and teams move on to younger players. In a year or two, the Giants will have to start thinking about trading Barkley for draft capital if they aren’t competing for top contention. It sounds crazy, but it might be something they have to do if the future is still not looking brighter. With a lot of unanswered questions, I think Giants fans can expect a similar year in 2020.

Record Prediction: 6-10

Washington Redskins

Here is a team that has the No. 2 overall pick and will most likely take Chase Young, who I think is the best player in this year’s group. We see a team with a decent defense who could cause other offenses some issues, especially if they bring in Chase Young. They did make a veteran move this offseason by bringing in linebacker Thomas Davis. The 37-year-old played in Carolina from 2005-2018 under now Redskins head coach Ron Rivera for a handful of seasons. Yes, Davis probably has just a couple years left in his career, but bringing in a player with tons of experience and who was once one of the top linebackers in the game is a good move by the Redskins. Let’s not forget about last season’s rookie Montez Sweat. He recorded 7 sacks, 31 solo tackles, and 50 total tackles to end his first season. If the Redskins do take Young with the second overall pick, quarterbacks around the league better hurry getting the ball out, because these two are strong and fast. Washington also got themselves some help in the secondary by signing Kendall Fuller. He will be the guy tasked with defending teams’ best receivers. The defense is ready to make some noise with a lot of good, young pieces sprinkled in with some veterans. But, the offense is where the focus is going to be going into the 2020 season. After a 3-13 season, people are questioning whether or not Rivera should use the high draft pick for a quarterback. Others think he should bring in Cam Newton, a guy he’s very familiar with. As of now, Dwayne Haskins Jr. is the starting quarterback. He was thrown in the driver’s seat of the offense mid-season last year. At times, he looked like a top-15 pick in the draft and other times he looked like a rookie QB. They put Haskins in against the Giants and probably never should have done that. Haskins ended up throwing 3 interceptions in that game and lost all confidence. But, towards the end of the season they started running plays that he was confident in and managed to gather two more wins. Haskins only threw two interceptions in the last five games of the season. They were playing teams close, and you could see some confidence building. I think the potential of Haskins being a great QB is there, he just needs some pieces around him and a coach to believe in him. They do have a good, young receiver in Terry McLaurin, a guy who played with Haskins at Ohio State. In his first season, he managed 919 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Now, the Redskins are going to need a lot more than just McLaurin to be successful on offense, but he is a good building block. At the running back position, they have a young back with tremendous potential in Derrius Guice, but he can’t seem to stay healthy. They still have Adrian Peterson, but he is not the super star he once was. So they need to have a more stable answer at the running back position. Now they actually have a pretty decent offensive line lead by Brandon Scherff. But when Trent Williams, one of the best tackles in the game, requested to be traded only to be dropped by the Redskins, it leaves the franchise with a void in the most important position in football. I believe this team will shock the league with their defense, but the offense is going to take some time to build. They will be a better team this coming season, and I believe the defense will carry this team. So don’t be surprised when Washington turns some heads.

Record Prediction: 5-11

Division Breakdown

The NFC East has one of the weaker divisions as of late, with just the Cowboys and the Eagles truly competing for the division title. I think in a couple more years, the NFC East will be relevant around the league again. The Eagles have a good team, especially with the addition of Darius Slay on defense, but they still need to find Wentz some receivers to throw to, especially after all the dropped passes from a year ago. But until that happens, the division will be ran by the Dallas Cowboys. The choice to bring in a veteran offensive-minded coach like Mike McCarthy was a great move and will help this offense come to life. They still need to get the Dak deal done and work on filling some holes on defense, but I think they get it taken care of and win the division. As for the Giants and Redskins, they are just not ready yet. Both teams have young quarterbacks who still need to develop. The Redskins have a good defense that will carry them to a few wins. The Giants have an MVP-type running back who will carry the load on offense and help Daniel Jones develop by taking some pressure off of him. Both teams will have a better record than the previous season but ultimately are a few seasons out from competing for the top spot in the division!

Up Next Week: NFC West

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