Last season, the NFC East was renamed the NFC Least.
Injuries and overall poor performances made this one time heavily feared division a laughable-joke across the league.
Even though all four division members had a season to forget, that didn’t stop them from making big offseason acquisitions.
Will this division rise to the top of the NFL or will it be the division that has a member make the playoffs with a sub .500 record?
The 2016 NFC East preview
One can say that this team should’ve represented the NFC East in the playoffs last season and I would agree with them. If the Cowboys didn’t lose their quarterback, Tony Romo, and their star wide receiver, Dez Bryant, for most of the 2015 season they easily would’ve been back-to-back East champs. However, we all know in football a teams’ season can change at the drop of a dime.
The ‘Boys went 4-12 last season, absolutely abysmal if Jerry Jones has anything to say about it. The offense wasn’t consistent and back-ups weren’t able to step up when their names were called. But can this team do a complete 180 degree turn and get back to their winning ways?
The Cowboys are going to have to rely on their running game to control the game clock, just as they did in 2014. First round pick, Ezekiel Elliot, is going to need to be the work horse the team expects him to be. We all know that Bryant is going to put up monster numbers but Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley need to step up and be reliable No. 2 and 3 options for Romo.
Defensively this team has questions. Starting middle linebacker, Rolando McClain, is suspended 10 games for violating the leagues substance abuse policy. Starting defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are suspended four games for the same violation as McClain. Getting cornerback Orlando Scandrick back from an ACL tear is going to help but this team needs to win their games by depending on their offense.
"You have to put the pads on and you have to hit."
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) July 18, 2016
In 2016, all eyes will be on the Eagles quarterback play. The Eagles were one of the divisions biggest disappointments last season and most of the blame can be placed on the quarterbacks. Sam Bradford got a lucrative contract this offseason and the team traded the farm for the No. 2 overall selection (used to select North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz). Do the Birds play the rookie or do they gamble on Bradford’s inconsistency and injury concerns?
With Chip Kelly out the door, new head coach Doug Pederson has his hands full. If the Eagles want to get back on top of the NFC East they are going to need to help out their quarterbacks. The running back group, highlighted by Ryan Mathews, and their wide receiving corps, led by Jordan Matthews, really need to be what the Eagles organization expected of them in 2015 (which they didn’t get).
Defensively, this team isn’t in bad shape. Their front seven led by Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan will make it challenging for opposing offensive lines to game plan. Their linebacker unit, anchored by second year threat Jordan Hicks, is a young group that will be better in 2016. Their secondary added much needed help. The Eagles were able to add veterans Rodney McLeod and Leodis McKelvin.
I would be extremely cautious to bet on this team because again, it all depends on quarterback play. It won’t be where it needs to be.
Outside of Shane Vereen, who's the best receiving #Giants RB?
— New York Giants (@Giants) July 21, 2016
New York Giants:
The Giants beefed up on the defensive side of the ball and that’s certainly where they were lacking in 2015. It’s clear what the G-Men’s philosophy will be in 2016. But will a lot change with new head coach Ben McAdoo calling the shots?
New acquisitions Janoris Jenkins, Olivier Vernon and Damon Harris will all make the defensive unit much better. In the NFC East, if you have a defense that’s just a little bit better than average, than you can certainly represent the division in the playoffs. The defense will be solid but the true question lies with the offense.
Eli Manning’s play has been on a decline since 2011 but getting back a healthy Victor Cruz to go along with second round pick Sterling Shepard should only help. Odell Beckham Jr represents himself. His abilities are from another planet. Manning and the Giants offense will only go as far as the offensive line allows them. They have been improving year-after-year as they get younger but you still have to be weary. The interior of the O-line led by Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh is the clear strength. The tackles are the worry. According to Pro Football Focus, Eric Flowers recorded a pass-blocking efficiency of 90.8, the worst among all tackles.
The Giants will be better than last season but as every football fan knows, it starts up front. If the Giants don’t have the consistent O-line play, it’s going to be a long season.
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) July 19, 2016
The reigning NFC East champs are looking to be the first to repeat since the Eagles did it from 2001-2004. This Redskins team is relying heavily on Kirk Cousins to repeat his performance last season and I’m not sure that’s the best idea. Cousins is playing under the franchise tag this season, so he’s betting on himself more than anyone else is. Can he be consistent enough for this team?
The Redskins really need a guy to step up to be their franchise quarterback and the pressure may be too much for Cousins. Entering last season, the ‘Skins were still trying to break up with Robert Griffin III, so Cousins didn’t have expectations. This year he does.
The Redskins have put pieces in place to have Cousins succeed. The receiving corps of Jordan Reed, Desean Jackson, Pierre Garçon and rookie Josh Doctson rank among top of the NFL. The offensive line is very solid. Trent Williams has the left tackle position anchored and Brandon Scherff makes the interior strong.
The defense in it’s entirety isn’t feared. The addition of former Carolina Panther, Josh Norman, helps a secondary that needed a boost. The front seven isn’t the greatest, however, they have some young pieces that can show improvement. This defense won’t be good enough to win games alone, but they aren’t bad enough where they will get blown out week-to-week either.
Final NFC East Predictions:
Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
New York Giants (8-8)
Washington Redskins (8-8)
Philadelphia Eagles (6-10)