Probably the roughest division from top to bottom with the most vocal and outspoken fans in the entire league, the NFC East is a lot like the fans and cities that occupy it, loud, proud and unapologetic. Stretching from the Big Apple to the Big D, with stops in between our nation’s capital and the country’s birthplace, the NFC East is hard to peg down both football-wise and geographically.
While the division boats arguably one of the league’s best young quarterbacks in Dak Prescott and the NFL’s best defensive line down in our nation’s capital, there are also the two biggest question marks in the form of New York Giants QB Daniel Jones and Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Below is my preview of the always rough and raucous NFC East!
Philadelphia Eagles: Fly Eagles Fly? Out with Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson, in with first-time rookie coach in Nick Sirianni. Out with former franchise QB Carson Wentz—and civic hero in Super Bowl LI MVP Nick Foles—and in with Jalen Hurts.
The Eagles have more questions than answers going into the 2021-22 season. Mainly, is Hurts the guy in the City of Brotherly Love? Because while there will be growing pains in Philly, the always-tough and demanding Eagles fanbase have no patience in a tough love sports city such as Philadelphia. While Joe Flacco is serviceable, Foles ain’t around this time to save the ‘Birds!
Projected record: 7-10
New York Giants: Up I-95 from their longtime rivals from Philly, Big Blue has their own issues at QB in first-round signal-caller Daniel Jones. Jones, taken sixth overall out of Duke in the 2019 NFL Draft, is tethering on being a bust, as he has failed to live up to his top-ten selection.
While starting 26 of 27 games for Big Blue, “Danny Dimes’ has looked rather mediocre in completing 62.2 percent of his passes for 5,970 yards, 35 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Newsflash! Eli Manning ain’t walking thru that door to save the G-Men anymore!
Stats wise, Jones has been respectable, and while he did lose NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in RB Saquon Barkley to a season-ending Achilles injury, the Giants have brought some weapons to surround Jones in such as WR Kenny Golladay (four years, $72 million), John Ross (one year, $2.225 million), TE Kyle Rudolph ( two years, $12 million), RB Devontae Booker (two years, $5.5 million) and drafted the speedy Kadarius Toney out of Florida.
With a fully-healed Barkley back, in addition to upgrades made via free agency and the draft, it’s getting late rather early for Jones’ time in New York.
Bottom line, there are no more excuses for Jones to not take that next leap in 2021. If he doesn’t both he and the general manager that took a chance on him in David Gettleman could be looking for new addresses in 2022.
Projected record: 9-8
Dallas Cowboys: This is arguably the toughest spot to pick. While a case could have been made to put America’s Team ahead of Washington, there is just SOMETHING about the Cowboys that makes you hesitate and pause. If you look past all the glitz, glamour and prestige of the Cowboys, you see a potent—and deeply flawed team.
On offense, you have the forementioned Prescott running the show behind what may be a top-five offense that features TB Ezequiel Elliott, WR’s Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, potentially the best offensive line in the NFL and just so much beaucoup talent everywhere.
It’s about that defense. Or lack there of.
Perhaps the biggest move in the offseason for the ‘Boys is not the selection of former Penn State LB Micha Parsons, but the addition of former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn as the Cowboys new defensive coordinator.
After a Super Bowl-winning stint in Seattle and the “Legion of Boom” and another Super Bowl appearance as head coach of the Falcons—here come the 28-3 jokes!—seeing how quickly Dallas executes Quinn’s “4-3 Under” defensive scheme that helped fuel the Seahawks to their dominating 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII win over Peyton Manning’s high-powered Broncos.
While Dallas doesn’t have a “Legion of Boom”-type of secondary, it will be up to the recently-recovered Prescott to shoulder the offensive load, which may be too much for him to handle.
Projected record: 11-6
Washington Football Team: Chase Young. Montez Sweat. Daron Payne. Jonathan Allen. These are the names that will keep opposing teams up at night when having to face the Washington Football Team.
Stacked with first round talent up front in the form of Young, Payne and Allen, while adding another first round stud in LB Jamin Davis out of Kentucky, DB Kendall Fuller and SS Landon Collins, and WFT is gonna be a real problem in 2021.
Unlike their glitzer media-hogging archrivals from Big D, WFT goes about their business with no frills and a real professionalism that is being ingrained into the new culture that head coach—and cancer survivor—Ron Rivera is installing. If WFT is anything like his old teams in Carolina, which were fundamentally sound, tough-minded on defense and balanced on offense, then WFT has a chance to build upon last season’s division-winning squad, and defend their NFC East crown.
Also, unlike the Cowboys, they don’t need QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to carry the load offensively the same way that Prescott has to, due to Dallas’ suspect defense. If Fitz Magic can avoid turning into Fitz Tragic and play smart football and make good decisions, thanks to having some weapons on his own in WR’s Curtis Samuel, Terry McLaurin and tailback Antonio Gibson.
If there is a living example of defense winning championships, look no further than our nation’s capital, as The Team With No Name will once again rule the NFC East in 2021.
Projected record: 12-5