Last year, the NFC East was won by the Superbowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles, who were perceived as the season long underdogs up to the very moment that Lombardi trophy was raised. Now, they’re the favorites to win it according to Vegas. New York had one of the worst seasons in franchise history, how will they bounce back? Dallas and Washington each had eventful off-seasons, and mediocre regular seasons in 2017, what does 2018 spell out for them? Let’s see…
2017 Record: 13-3
2018 Prediction: 12-4
It’s not because they’re a weaker team that I have Philly losing one more game than last year. Wentz is coming off of an ACL injury from last year and may need time to adjust back to the pace of the game. They also have a brutal schedule from November-on: At New Orleans, hosting the Giants and Redskins, At Dallas and Los Angeles, hosting the Texans, back to Washington. Being a first-place team means you get a first-place schedule. If Philly can draw even with these teams, or go 5-2 or 6-1, they’ll be in great shape. But I’m guessing it’ll be fatigue that sets in, and that’s what may make this division race a little tighter. That leads me to our second-place team…
2017 Record: 9-7
2018 Prediction: 11-5
Historically, the NFC East is a division with a 10-6 or 9-7 winner. Because of all the deep seeded and long-standing rivalries, split season series and even head to head competition is the result. I’m not quite projecting that this year. I think that this is a division that could easily send two teams to the playoffs, one of which being the Cowboys. In the “Big D”, “Defense” will not be by any stretch be their strong suit. Sean Lee’s health is questionable, and he’s their anchor in the middle Their secondary is a bunch of no-names, and I’m not going to trust that front seven just yet. Also, there seems to be a lack of maturity on both sides of the ball from macro-perspective. Pair that with the retirement of Jason Witten, and we could see a leadership vacuum happening right in front of our eyes.
Enter Dak Prescott, 3rd year pro going on 10-year vet. He’s a leader, and a damn good quarterback. Elliot is going to resurge as an elite running back after a topsy-turvy 2017 campaign. We know the offensive line will be great, and I believe that the wide receiving crew will be better than expected. Watch for rookie Michael Gallup and veteran wideout Allen Hurns to replace Dez Bryant’s production. I think the Cowboys could turn some heads this year, make this division more competitive, and maybe, just maybe, make a deep playoff run. We’ll see.
New York Giants
2017 Record: 3-13
2018 Prediction: 8-8
The New York Football Giants were dwarfed by every other time in the National Football Conference last year. Eli Manning’s quarterback play was C level at best, and it didn’t help that their offensive line played more like a New York subway turnstile than a strong football unit. Their injury-depleted wide receiving core was helpless and hopeless, and above all else, they lacked a running back that could alleviate pressure off the passing game. Fast forward to the off-season, they draft a stud out of Penn State by the name of Saquon Barkley to run the football, they oust their previous head coach for offensive guru Pat Shurmur, and pick up half left-tackle, half Kodiak-bear Nate Solder to give Eli a little more time to throw to a recovering wide receiving core. Their defense was never really the problem, and though their linebackers are a bit underwhelming, I think overall their pass-rush is borderline elite. While I’m not expecting them to be a playoff team, I think this is a rebounding team that could win some tough road games and hold their own, re-establishing the Giants as a blue-collar, tough-it-out, football power.
2017 Record: 7-9
2018 Prediction: 4-12
Simply put: In a division and a conference that overall is more talented and better coached than last year, do I think the stagnant Washington Redskins will improve? No. Swapping Kirk Cousins for Alex Smith doesn’t wow me. It just doesn’t. It’s like getting a Ford Focus to replace your Toyota Corolla. Also, did they address their biggest needs of a better run game and a better pass-rush the offseason? No. While the recent signing of Adrian Peterson is a big name… but he’s not what he used to be. And while this team has a good offensive and defensive line, you can’t prove to me that the rest of the 53-man squad will be as decent.
Top to bottom, this isn’t a team that leaves an impression on me other than “blah”. Would I be surprised if they won 8 games? Probably not. But looking that their tough schedule, there’s just too many instances of being outmatched personal wise to say that I can call this a wildcard team. They were sub-500 last year and didn’t improve at all while their surrounding teams got better. That spells bad season to me.
Danny Lovell – Contributor – WTF Sports