As training camps come to a close and the preseason officially begins, fans have heard enough about what their teams have put together for the 2019 season to form some realistic expectations. Before we can see the depth the teams yield in preseason, let’s set expectations for each of the four NFC East football teams.
- Philadelphia Eagles – With one of the best rosters in the NFL, the sky’s the limit for this squad. Perennial contenders, the Eagles are a favorite to represent the NFC in this year’s Super Bowl. They have a stacked offense. Their offensive line is one of the best, if not the best in the league. They have a solid group of receivers that offer a little bit of everything. Depth at their receiver spots may be an issue but what they lack behind their starters, they make up for with two pretty damn good tight ends. They have a stable of running backs, led by rookie Miles Sanders and Josh Howard, who comes over from the Bears. Of course, with any NFL team, their success hinges on their young, promising signal caller. He’s got the tools to be one of the best in the NFL but Carson’s had a history of injuries in his short NFL career. The problem comes with the release of Nick Foles, their long term backup/savior who left for a chance to be the man down in Jacksonville. If Carson misses more than a game or two, this season will be a sunk cost for the Eagles as his backups are unproven and likely not NFL starting caliber.
The defense should once again be led by a good, deep defensive line. With one of the best defensive linemen in football, the Eagles defensive success rests solely on their ability to get pressure on quarterbacks. If the changeover at defensive end isn’t able to speed up opposing teams’ QBs, the defense may struggle more than we believe. Their corners are solid, not spectacular. Beyond Malcolm Jenkins, their long term defensive leader at safety, they may struggle to defend the deepest parts of the field. Hence the need for a dominant pass rush.
If everything goes right, if Carson remains healthy for most of the season, if the defensive ends provide adequate pressure, this team could win 13 to 14 games this year. They are that good. However, they will likely lose every game Carson Wentz doesn’t start.
- Dallas Cowboys – This is another team that is absolutely stacked. Looking at the roster, it’s hard to find many weak spots. Dak Prescott may leave a lot to be desired, but with the team he has around him, success shouldn’t be too hard for him to find. Amari Cooper is one of the best young receivers in the game and the Cowboys look like geniuses for trading for him. Their offensive line is one of the best in the league with three All Pro caliber players if their star Center, Travis Frederick can return after a non-football illness that kept him sidelined last year. But…, and there’s always a but… Those not intimate with the NFC East may not understand what exactly the bEast curse is. Since 2004, no NFC East team has repeated as champion of the division. This “bEast curse” has manifested itself in many different ways. This year, it seems to me manifesting itself as a contract holdout. Their star running back, Ewok Elliot, who has lead the league in rushing since he’s joined it, isn’t at camp and is threatening to sit out the entire season. Alfred Morris isn’t the answer and the offense will be significantly worse if it must rely on Dak to Cooper alone. I don’t care who the new play caller is. Dak and Cooper excelled last year because they were able to exploit defenses that were scared of the Ewok. If he isn’t there, neither is any offensive success for the Cowboys.
However… their defense is also pretty loaded. Lead by one of the best pass rushers in the game and two spectacular young linebackers, the Dallas defense should be lights out again this year. Dallas games will likely be ugly slobber knockers this year if the Ewok doesn’t report. They will need to lean on the defense and hope Dak Prescott is worth the contract they are about to pay him.
If everything goes right, if Ewok Elliot reports, this could be a 12 to 13 win team. However, they do have the bEast curse to worry about and even if Elliot reports, some other unforeseen aspect is surely to wreak havoc on their season. If this team can get 10 wins, Cowboy fans should rejoice. Sure, they are built to contend, and if they make it to the playoffs they should make some noise, but they have an uphill battle to climb. The time is now for this squad. Contracts are coming due. Their excellent drafting over the years has them in a situation where they simply can’t pay everyone and hope to have any kind of depth.
- Washington Redskins – We’ve covered the haves in this division. Now it’s time to cover the have nots. Who’s the quarterback? Who’s the left tackle? Who’s the left guard? Will the receivers step up? Is there a hidden gem on the roster at that spot? This is a team full of unknowns on offense. Can the ageless wonder, Adrian Peterson, continue to stack up his Hall of Fame stats? Can Darius Guice return from an ACL and show the NFL he belongs? Will Jordan Reed stay healthy and get back to his dominating self? No one knows. There is potential on offense. But this team isn’t close to contending on offense this year. There’s hope for the future. The future just isn’t today.
The bright spot for this team is their defensive line and outside linebackers. There may not be a team in the league that can trot out an equal 5 players across the front than the Redskins. They have decent depth behind these five two. This bodes well for newly signed Safety, Landon Collins, who should have an All Pro caliber year cleaning up short underneath passes due to the pass rush. The defense should be a top 10 unit as long as they can have some time to rest in game. This is all on the offense.
If everything goes right, if Trent reports, if one of the QBs steps up and the receivers continue to show promise, this team could squeak out 10 wins. Unlikely, but the way the schedule pans out, after a slow start, this team could really end the season with hope and promise.
- New York Giants – Eli is still the apple of John Mara’s eye. Thankfully. Reports out of their training camp suggest that their first round pick, Daniel Jones, isn’t close to supplanting Eli as the starter. They have the most dynamic player in the game and will likely waste his career after David Gettleman traded away their other star in OBJ. Then, their three starting receivers all have some issue that will keep them from living up to expectations. Starting Z, Coleman is out for the year. Starting X receiver, Sterling Shepard has a broken thumb. And their newly acquired slot Y receiver is likely suspended for the first four games. This puts all the pressure on Saquon Barkley with the hopes that Evan Engram, their move TE can pick up the slack. Again, they will waste Saquon Barkley’s career. It’s a shame.
On defense, they will have zero pass rush but I bet it will be super hard to run on them. They are back to their famous 3-4 defense but there’s no one close to LT at OLB. The middle of the line will be stout against the run though! I don’t see how this team can win 6 games.
If everything goes right, this team might win 6 or 7 games. And by right I mean every other team on their schedule falls apart somehow.
In short, this is the Eagles year. The Cowboys should press them but the bEast Curse is nasty and will find a way to keep the Cowboys from repeating. Maybe it manifests in the loss of Ewok Elliot, maybe Dak becomes a bottom 10 QB after signing a massive extension. This is clearly a two horse division. The Skins will be middling again and the Giants have a lot of work to do.
Final Expected Win/Loss –
Eagles – 11-5
Redskins – 7-9
Giants – 5-11