NFC East Preview
The NFC East should be interesting this season as it sports two very good teams and two teams that are likely to be among the worst in the league. The Eagles are the class of the division and continue to improve. Dallas has the biggest names but hasn’t done much to improve their team this off season and could have a costly hod out from Ezekial Elliott to start the season. Washington should be competing with Miami and Arizona for the worst record in the league. The Giants, meanwhile, are the one true wild card. The post season is probably out of reach but New York could send Eli Manning into retirement with a late season winning streak as a spoiler to other teams play off hopes.
New Faces: DE Robert Quinn, WR Randall Cobb, TE Jason Witten, DT, Trystan Hill, RB Tony Pollard: Quinn is an immediate starter and the only great player that the Cowboys added this off season. Hill will add depth to the interior rotation. Randall Cobb came cheap and has some motivation to resurrect his career after his far fall in Green Bay. Witten is back, likely to do a lot of blocking while Pollard has looked good enough in the preseason for the Cowboys to continue to play hardball with Ezekial Elliott.
Offensive Outlook: Without Elliott this team simply won’t be good. Starting the season with a loss or two will likely remind the Jones family what happened when they paid Emmit Smith and won the Superbowl after starting 0-2. Amari Cooper is slow playing his hand, possibly to hit free agency, but Dak Prescott is reportedly looking for top 10 money, which would be a mistake for the Cowboys.
Defensive Outlook: Dallas has a solid veteran group that is led by their excellent line backing corps. Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Leighton Vander Esch are all well rounded, athletic linebackers that fly to the ball. They solve a lot of problems for the Dallas coaching staff. If Quinn is serviceable the Dallas defense will get the kind of pressure they need to contain prolific offenses, if only for portions of a game. Dallas has also drafted well at cornerback and the team has enough in house depth to withstand a short term injury to Byron Jones, who remains on PUP.
Overall Prediction: Dallas will be a good team. I don’t think they will be a playoff team. I have them missing out after winning ten games and Jerry Jones will be wondering what could have been had they paid Elliott a week or two earlier.
New Faces: QB Daniel Jones, WR Golden Tate, SS Jabrill Peppers, DT Dexter Lawrence, CB DeAndre Baker: Jones will sit and watch to start the season but it seems likely that the Giants will be out of playoff contention soon enough in the season to force their hand in preparing Jones for the future. Tate is a solid veteran hand to play opposite Shepard. Peppers will start immediately and have an impact in the return game as well as the secondary. Dexter Lawrence and Deandre Baker will both start immediately and are being counted on to provide the Giants with long term lynch pins for their defense.
Offensive Outlook: As long as the Giants have a semi-decent offensive line and Saquon Barkely they’ll be fine. Tate was a nice addition because he is steady and consistent which is what they need opposite the talented, but relatively inconsistent, Even Engram and Sterling Shepard. Manning will get the start for a while but if the Giants are out of the playoff race, or simply don’t pop offensively, he’ll end his career on the bench.
Defensive Outlook: Lawrence will hopefully provide the defense with the space eater in the middle of the field that they need. Lawrence is a load and should help redirect running backs and keep quarterbacks from stepping up in the pocket. Baker and Peppers along with Anthoine Bethea and Janoris Jenkins should offer some stability on the back end while linebackers Alec Ogletree and Lorenzo Carter will be making plays all over the field.
Overall Prediction: The Giants aren’t going to be good enough, and that’s probably for the best. Manning will get his moments, in what is likely to be his last season, but ultimately this season will belong to Daniel Jones and the future.
New Faces: RB Jordan Howard, RB Myles Sanders, WR Desean Jackson, OT Andre Dillard, WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside; The Howard Sanders battle is one of the best training camp battles of this season. Conventional wisdom, and reports from Eagles beat writers suggest that Howard will be used inside the 20’s while Sanders will be on the field in between the 20’s. Jackson will play mostly out of the slot while Dillard and Arcega-Whteside will likely watch a lot from the sidelines.
Offensive Outlook: The Eagles are 2 deep at lead back, tight end, and both receiver spots. If Carson Wentz can stay healthy this figures to be a very good offensive team. I would expect the coaching staff to run the hot hand at running back without so much worrying about where the ball is. Both backs will play and both should get similar touches.
Defensive Outlook: The Eagles have a great defensive line and secondary. Their linebackers are young, athletic, and inexperienced. Should the generate pressure off the edge, which seems like a safe bet, then the linebackers won’t be asked to do much except fly to the ball. The secondary is full of talented players and should generate a number of turnovers with their aggressive style. Overall this defense should be a very efficient unit that plays solid consistent defense.
Overall Prediction: The Eagles fortunes ride on the health of Carson Wentz. When he has been healthy the Eagles have been one of the leagues best teams over the past two seasons. While they were good enough to continue to win with Nick Foles after Wentz went down that is no longer the case. I expect Wentz to stay healthy and the Eagles to win their division.
New Faces: QB’s Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins, S Landon Collins, OLB Montez Sweat, WR’s Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon, (Bonus new face) RB Derrius Guice: Keenum and Haskins will probably play the most snaps at quarterback. Sweat will factor into a very good rotation of linebackers. McLaurin and Harmon are already pushing some of the veteran receivers. Derrius Guice is being counted because he miss all of 2018 to a torn ACL.
Offensive Outlook: Guice was an exciting back to watch at LSU and in camp for Washington last season. He figures to regain the starting job. Haskins will be the starter before too long since Washington is going to be terrible. When that happens I would expect Harmon and McLaurin to get more minutes in order to develop the necessary rapport with Haskins for the future. Of course, without Trent Williams none of this might matter. Williams is among the leagues best players at a premium position and the team has alienated him into staying away from camp. They have to find a way to get him signed.
Defensive Outlook: Montez Sweat has a great opportunity to rotate in while learning from players like Ryan Kerrigan. Landon Collins will had some pop to a secondary that underwhelmed the last few seasons. The front seven for Washington is absolutely loaded. The line backing corps is eight players deep and the defensive line is full of dependable workman like beasts. The only real weakness is at corner back opposite Josh Norman, but that could be a big weakness.
Overall Prediction: Washington simply doesn’t have the offensive horses to win much. And that would be with Trent Williams. Without him I would expect the ‘skins to lost a lot of 20-10 or 17-13 style games. I consider Washington to be one of the worst teams in the league despite thinking that their coaching staff is very very good.
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