NFC East Preview

The NFC East could be one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL featuring the defending NFC champions Philadelphia Eagles, who steamrolled to a 14-3 record last season. Dallas was right on their heels at 12-5, while the Giants and Commanders both finished with at least a .500 record. The Eagles have the toughest schedule in the NFL this season but will still be the team to beat in the division and conference.

Philadelphia features quarterback Jalen Hurts, who finished second in the MVP voting last season. He provided nearly 4500 yards in offense last season with 29 touchdowns. He has a plethora of weapons to throw to, including AJ Brown, DaVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and Quez Watkins and will have plenty to time to throw with the likes of Jordan Mailata, Jason Kelce, and Lane Johnson achoring the line. Smith and Brown each surpassed 1000 yards receiving and have the potential to top 100 receptions each this season. On the ground the Eagles lost Miles Sanders to Carolina, but replenished with D’Andre Swift and Rashad Penny. Add in Kenneth Gainwell and Giants’ killer Boston Scott and the Eagles have an offense to give headaches to any defensive coordinator in the NFL.

Defensively, the Eagles are stout up front with veterans Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Josh Sweat with impressive young talent in Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis in the mix. The linebackers are solid and Darius Slay leads a talented secondary. Kicker Jake Elliott is arguably the best kicker in the league not named Justin Tucker.

Dallas is looking to unseat the Eagles as beast of the east. They improved over the offseason adding Stephon Gilmore in the second to go along with Trevon Diggs, who has 14 passes defensed and three interceptions last year. Micah Parsons is arguably the best linebacker in the NFL, recording 13.5 sacks last season. On the offensive side of the ball, Dak Prescott threw for 2860 yards and 23 touchdowns in 12 games. He also had 15 interceptions and must take better care of the ball in key situations for the Cowboys to make a deep post season run. He will have more weapons with the addition of Brandin Cooks to go along with CeeDee Lamb, who should surpass 100 catches and 1000 yards again this season. In the backfield, Zeke Elliott is gone, but the Cowboys are still in good hands with Tony Pollard, who averaged over five yards per carry on 193 attempts in 2022. The kicking game is among the best in Brett Maher, who drilled 9-of-11 from beyond 50 yards last season.

The Giants and the Commanders are most troublesome to predict. In New York, the Giants are led by quarterback Daniel Jones, who threw for 3205 yards and added another 708 on the ground. The numbers seem impressive enough, but he threw for only 15 touchdowns and the Giants will need more from Jones in the air to seriously compete in this division. Jones has solid, although not spectacular receivers to throw to in the likes of Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, and Parris Campbell. On the ground, Saquon Barkley had his best overall season, after coming off injury-plagued campaigns in 2020 and 2021. He rushed for a career-best 1312 yards and 10 touchdowns, while hauling in 57 passes.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants return nose tackle Dexter Lawrence II, who led the team with 7.5 sacks. The overall defense left much to be desired, allowing 144 yards and 5.2 yards per carry. In addition, teams feasted on a secondary that intercepted only six passes last season. Punter Jamie Gillan and kicker Graham Gano are excellent, but the Giants cannot rely on special teams alone to seriously contend in the division.

There are numerous questions in Washington, none more pressing than at quarterback. There’s no doubt that this position has plagued the team for the last several seasons. Last season, Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke took their shot and neither impressed. They combined for 23 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, numerous sacks and other poor decisions. This year the Commanders are handing the reigns to Sam Howell, who threw for 169 yards and a touchdown in his only appearance last season.

Howell will have a solid core of receivers to throw to, led by Terry McLaurin, who hauled in 77 passes for 1151 yards last season. Curtis Samuel and home run threat Jahan Dotson combined for nearly 1200 yards and 11 touchdowns. For the Commanders to be competitive, they need more from a running game that was led by Brian Robinson Jr and Antonio Gibson. They combined to average only 3.8 yards per carry and neither sniffed 1000 yards for the season. As a team, Washington averaged a mere 18.9 points per game last season, which will not get it done in today’s era of the NFL.

Defensively, Washington was quite solid, allowing only 20.2 points per contest. Their strength was up front, allowing a respectable 114 yards per game on the ground. Defensive tackles Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen combined for 19 sacks. Add in the return of Chase Young, who was limited to three games last season, and the Commanders should have a pass rush to wreak havoc on many quarterbacks this season. In the secondary, safety Darrick Forest returns having led the team in interceptions last season with four. Kendall Fuller is a strong cover corner and is a big-play threat having returned two interceptions to the house last season. Kicker Joey Slye needs to improve upon a mediocre season in which he converted only 16-of-21 from beyond 30 yards.

Expect the Eagles and Cowboys to rule the division with the Giants and Commanders battling to stay around .500 and an outside shot at a playoff berth.