Dallas, Washington, NY and Philly Battle for First
The NFC East is certainly brimming with talent. The Dallas Cowboys bring a lot to the table this season, while the New York Giants have the most improved receiving squad in the division. At the same time, the Washington Redskins have proven that they can score even if they’re plagued by inconsistency. Finally, after a decent rookie season, the Philadelphia Eagles will look to Carson Wentz to lead the team with more certainty and confidence. Our 2017 NFC East Preview offers a thumbnail of each team and the division in general. For more specific previews of each team, please follow the links in this article to team pages.
The Dallas Cowboys (13-3) had a heck of a season last year, as rookie, fourth-round pick Zak Prescott had to come in and sub for starting QB Tony Romo for just about the entire season. Prescott proved to be a pleasant surprise, as he handled the pressure of starting QB for the Dallas Cowboys with aplomb. At the same time, rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot exploded onto the scene gaining more than 1,600 yards and averaging 5.1 YPA. Dallas coaching is some of the best in the league, which means their offense should run efficiently and their defense will most likely play above their heads.
New York Giants
The New York Giants (11-5) have a shot at the playoffs again. QB Eli Manning is a skilled and schooled veteran who has been in need of two things, a couple of big receivers and a high-performance offensive line. For 2017, he got one-out-of-two, as the Giants found the receivers in the form of veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall and rookie tight end Evan Engram. He also still has the wily and dexterous Odell Beckham Jr. to hit. Paul Perkins replaces Rashad Jennings at running back, which may or may not be good. The Giants will still bring a very stingy defense to the turf. They’ll win a few games for this team. The big worry is at placekicker. Aldrick Ross, who has no NFL experience, looks to gets the nod. He’ll need to have his A-game from the start.
The Philadelphia Eagles (7-9) have worked hard in the off-season to give second-year QB Carson Wentz the support he needs to win games. Wentz looks to be a major talent and should be even more creative and find consistency in his second NFL season. Some solid additions in the receiving corps, including WR Alshon Jeffrey, will be a major factor in improving the team’s red zone play, which was weak last year. Special teams are quite strong and the D-line and linebacking units possess some premium players. Overall the defensive backs are questionable, although a return to health for Malcolm Jenkins and some draft-pick additions will help.
Kirk Cousins, who was unable to negotiate a long-term deal with the team after he was designated as the franchise player, will lead the Washington Redskins (8-7-1) under a one-year contract. What affect that will have is uncertain. What is certain is that Cousins has played well over the past few years and has the potential to open it up this season, making him one of the biggest commodities in the NFL. Generally speaking, Washington puts a fine offense on the field and a defense that may, and needs to, see some improvement over last season. There are some problems in the kicking area and the Redskins are heading into the 2017 season without a GM. Despite some of these shortcomings, Cousins with Jay Gruden as head coach may have the stuff to get this team into the playoffs in 2017.
2017 NFC East Preview: Final Standings
Here how our 2017 NFC East Preview sees these teams finishing. Click on a team’s link to be taken to our extended report concerning their 2017 season.