Unlike the AFC East, the NFC East might just be the most competitive division in all of football with different teams winning that division almost every year. The last time a team in the NFC East repeated as division champs was when the Philadelphia Eagles won the division four years in a row from 2001 through 2004, and during the last season on that run, the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl.
Entering the 2018 season, the Eagles are coming off of a season where they not only won their division, but also won their first Super Bowl. So can the defending Super Bowl champions repeat as divisional champs in 2018? They certainly have a good opportunity to do so.
- Philadelphia Eagles: 11-5
Like they did in 2002, I think the Eagles will win this division for the second consecutive year, but will regress a little bit from their 13-3 regular season last year. Their franchise quarterback, Carson Wentz is returning from an ACL tear and typically it takes quarterbacks a little time to come back from that injury. I don’t think Wentz will be an MVP caliber player in 2018 like he was last season, but he can still be a serviceable quarterback that can win games for the Eagles.
The Eagles have done a nice job building around Wentz with running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles, wide receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor, a top three tight end in the league with Zach Ertz, and a very solid offensive line headlined by Jason Kelce, Jason Peters, and Lane Johnson. I just think the Eagles have an explosive all-around offensive unit around Wentz to succeed in 2018, even coming back from a torn ACL. And lets not forgot that their backup quarterback is Nick Foles, who won the Super Bowl MVP last season when he took over for Wentz after he got hurt last season.
While on defense, Philadelphia is just as solid as they were ranked as the fourth best defense in the league last season and made some offseason additions to make that unit even better. They made a trade to bring in defensive end, Michael Bennett from the Seahawks and also made some good free agent signings by bringing in defensive tackle, Haloti Ngata from the Lions and linebacker, Corey Nelson from the Broncos.
Overall, I think 2018 is going to be another good year for the Eagles, but with their franchise quarterback coming back from a serious leg injury and a tougher schedule, I believe the Eagles win total will drop by two games this season, but still win the division.
- Dallas Cowboys: 9-7
Even with their young star running back, Ezekiel Elliott expected to play the entirety of this season after being suspended for six games last season due to a domestic violence incident he was involved in while in college, I think the Cowboys record will be the exact same as it was last year. Sure they have Elliott back for a full season and still have one of the greatest offensive lines in football, but their offense has one glaring issue that I can’t get past.
Who is their quarterback, Dak Prescott going to throw the ball to? Their longtime number one receiver, Dez Bryant is a free agent and future hall of fame tight end, Jason Witten retired during the offseason, which leaves Terrance Williams and newly acquired Allen Hurns as Prescott’s top two wide receivers. Both Williams and Hurns have been very inconsistent throughout their entire NFL careers and on just about any other team, they are a #3 or #2 receivers at best. So their wide receiver group as a whole might be one of the worst in all of football entering the 2018 season, which might cost the Cowboys from getting back to the playoffs.
As for their defense, they are a young and rising group that did a pretty solid job for the Cowboys last season as they were ranked #8 in the league in total yards allowed per game and helped them win some games while Elliott was serving his suspension. They got a pair of good guys up front with DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford along with a linebacker group headlined by veteran Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, who is coming off of a solid rookie campaign in 2017.
So the Cowboys are very talented up front, both offensively and defensively, have a top 10 running back in the league in Ezekiel Elliott, and a good young quarterback in Dak Prescott who is entering his third year. However, I just can’t see the Cowboys being a 10 plus win team in 2018 with the wide receiver group they have right now. In this league, each team needs to have at least one consistent playmaker at the wide receiver position to have success, and that is the one glaring hole the Cowboys need to fill if they want to bounce back from a disappointing nine win season they had just a year ago.
- New York Giants: 7-9
Even though the Giants had a pretty nice offseason to revamp their team, especially on the offensive side, I don’t see them being a playoff team in 2018. They made some nice signings to improve their offensive line by bringing in Nate Solder from the Patriots and Patrick Omameh from the Jaguars, and drafted guard, Will Hernandez. So the offensive line should be much better than last season and with taking running back, Saquon Barkley from Penn State with that second overall pick, their running game should improve as well.
But who is the man that the Giants offensive line needs to protect in the pass? The declining 37 year old Eli Manning. So the Giants have an older declining signal caller and their number one receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. is returning from a severe ankle injury that ended his season early last year. That is something that is concerning when I look at the Giants and even though they have a talented young wide receiver in Sterling Shephard and a tight end, Evan Engram who had a solid rookie season last year, I just think their wide receiver group is a little too young and inexperienced and I am not really expecting a breakout year out of Eli Manning.
While on the defensive side, the Giants certainly have some big name pieces such as cornerback Janoris Jenkins, safety Landon Collins, and defensive end Olivier Vernon, but their defense highly underachieved last season. The Giants defense allowed the second most total yards last season and the sixth most total points. Injuries did have a part to do with that yes, but in 2018 some of the quarterbacks that Giants defense have to face include Carson Wentz (twice), Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Deshawn Watson, and Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Giants could have a bounce back year and potentially make the playoffs, but I just think there are too many questionmarks with this Giants team. How will Eli Manning play at age 37? How will Odell Beckham play coming back from a serious ankle fracture? How will Pat Shurmur do in his first year as the Giants head coach? Which is why I have them at 7-9.
- Washington Redskins: 6-10
If the Redskins were in a less competitive division such as the AFC East or AFC North, then the Redskins would probably be a .500 team and finish in 2nd or 3rd place in their division. Unfortunately for them, they play in one of the more challenging divisions in football. This team certainly has some talent on their roster, especially on the offensive side. They got a good group of wide receivers with a ton of speed with Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, and the newly acquired Paul Richardson along with an elite tight end in Jordan Reed.
These are some good weapons to compliment the new veteran quarterback, Alex Smith who came over from the Kansas City Chiefs during the offseason. Even though the Redskins downgraded at that position by letting Kirk Cousins walk via free agency, Smith is still a consistent, serviceable signal caller that can get the job done. This team has a middle of the pack offensive line and a running game that splits carries between running backs Chris Thompson, Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine, and 2018 second round pick, Derrius Guice. So overall, their offensive unit can win some games.
As for their defense, they have some play makers but were ranked towards the bottom third of the league in 2017. Last season, Washington was ranked 21st in total defense in yards per game and 27th in total points allowed per game. They did sign a couple veteran pieces in free agency by bringing in cornerback Orlando Scandrick and linebacker, Pernell McPhee. This unit still has some star studded defenders such as cornerback, Josh Norman and linebackers Zach Brown and Ryan Kerrigan, who are all solid consistent veteran, so I expect the Redskins defense to take a step forward in 2018.
Overall, right now I just look at the Redskins as an all-around average team that doesn’t quite have enough to get over the top and challenge the defending champion Eagles for the division in 2018.