NFL Season Preview and Predictions: NFC East

The NFC East is a division that has four teams that are capable of making the playoffs, but also you wouldn’t be stunned if they had a top ten pick. That is just how up in the air this division is.

Dallas Cowboys: 2016 Record 13-3: Result Lost in Divisional Round: 2017 Prediction 7-9

Key Additions: Ronnie Hillman, Noah Carroll, Luke McCown 

Key Departures: Tony Romo, Lance Dunbar, Doug Free, Rolando McClainBrandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Chuch, JJ Wilco, Mark Sanchez

I am calling for a dip from the Cowboys this season, they lost a lot of talent including three starters in the secondary. Ezekiel Elliott is facing a suspension and opposing teams now have a year of tape on Dak Prescott. The offensive line is still superb, and the WR group is led by the incredible Dez Bryant and the tight ends will once again be led by a man who is Canton bound in Jason Witten. The defense is a massive question mark for the Cowboys after they lost all a great deal of talent on that side of the ball, which is the primary reason why I’m calling for that slump. The Cowboys open the season hosting the Giants on Sunday Night Football, they then travel to Denver and Arizona in back-to-back weeks. However, from week five on, the Cowboys will face teams with playoff expectations in all but one week with six games on the road. The Cowboys have high expectations but I doubt they will live up to them this year.

New York Giants: 2016 Record 10-6: Result Lost in Wild Card Round: 2017 Prediction 11-5

Key Additions: Brandon Marshall, Rhett Ellison, DJ Fluker, Geno SmithValentino Blake, Shaun Draughn

Key Departures: Larry Donnell, Jonathan Hawkins, Ryan Nassib, Robbie Gould

The biggest question the Giants will face this season has to do with Eli Manning and whether or not he is done. Manning is coming off the worst season of his career and many believe his best days are behind him. The Giants added Brandon Marshall to Odell Beckham Jr to form the NFL’s best WR duo for their aging Quarterback. To make up for the loss of Larry Donnell, they added veteran Rhett Ellison at Tight End. On defense, the D-line remains intact led by Jason Pierre-Paul and Oliver Vernon, the linebackers are a weak spot but the secondary remains fearsome. Eli Apple, Janoris Jenkins, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will lead the cornerback spot, and of course, the star of the secondary will be a strong safety Landon Collins. The Giants open the season with a tough four game stretch in Dallas, hosting Detroit, at Philly, at Tampa. After a Week 8 bye the G Men have a critical three game stretch against beatable opponents in the LA Rams, 49ers and Chiefs. Before another tough stretch to finish the year, in their second year under Ben McAdoo, the Giants have high hopes the status of Manning will determine a lot.

Washington Redskins: 2016 Record 8-7-1: Result Missed Playoffs: 2017 Prediction 6-10

Key Additions: Stacy McGee, Terrell McClain, DJ Swearinger, Terrelle PryorZach Brown

Key Departures: DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Chris Baker, Ricky Jean-Francios 

The clown show that is the Washington Redskins rolls on. Washington mysteriously decided to part ways with General Manager Doug Williams handing the keys over to Bruce Allen for well-documented off-the-field issues. And for the second straight off-season, the team failed to reach a long term deal with Pro-Bowl Quarterback Kirk Cousins. Tight Ends Jordan Reed and Veron Davis are the only real weapons Cousins will have this season, after a depleted WR Group. The defense strongest point is the secondary adding DJ Swearinger to the safety group to All-Pro CB Josh Norman. The Redskins open the season hosting the Eagles, then have six straight winnable games that they would have to take at least four of to have any hopes of returning to the playoffs. In the remaining nine games, the ‘skins would have a chance if they had the same returning roster, but unfortunately for Cousins they don’t. It’s remarkable how this franchise has botched what seemed to be a great situation just two years ago, and it feels like Cousins is as good as gone in a year or two. The Redskins clock is running out fast.

Philadelphia Eagles: 2016 Record 7-9: Result Missed Playoffs for third straight season: Prediction 10-6

Key Additions: Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Chris Long, Patrick Robinson, LeGarrette Blount

Key Departures: Marcus Smith II, Noah Carroll

The Eagles got off to a good start a year ago under new Head Coach Doug Pederson and 2016 2nd overall pick Carson Wentz. Wentz is expected to make a big jump forward in his second year, whether he does or not will determine the fate of the Eagles in 2017. They added Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to Nelson Agholor to form a top flight WR Group. Zach Ertz and Brent Celek round out a very good Tight End duo. LeGarrette Blount will step in as a red zone specialist coming off an 18 touchdown season, and Darren Sproles is as dangerous as ever. On defense, the Eagles added vetern pass rusher Chris Long fresh off a Super Bowl win in New England, to pair up with Fletcher Cox on the defensive line. The linebacker group is weak, and the secondary play will rely a lot upon Patrick Robinson. The Eagles open the season in Washington then travel to Kansas City the next week, Phully then hosts the Giants. After a Week 10 bye, the Eagles will face five 2016 playoff teams in their last seven games. The Eagles are one of the NFL’s most historic teams but they’ve yet to win a Super Bowl, Wentz, and Pederson look to take them there this year.

Follow Cam on Twitter: @CamInTaunton

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