A new season will bring much familiarity in regard to the NFC East, even with three out of the four teams having a new face as head coach. Two teams will look to compete for division supremacy and a playoff spot to boot, while the other two will continue their respective rebuilds back toward relevancy.
While the NFC East might display more predictability than other divisions, it will still be a battle with numerous storylines. With what looks to be an interesting season for the division, here is the preview for the NFC East, along with the predicted placement of each team.
1. Dallas Cowboys (2019 record: 8-8)
To many, this predicted finish might seem like a stretch. After all, the team was as mediocre as could be last season, despite having the talent on both sides of the ball to contend for double-digit wins. Instead, the team scuffled and, as a result, fired then-head coach Jason Garrett. After the loss of Travis Frederick (retirement) and Byron Jones (free agency), one could reasonably expect the Cowboys to scuffle once more in several key areas of the field.
The addition of Mike McCarthy to the head coaching helm, however, could quell those negative thoughts. After modernizing his feel for the game during his time off from head coaching, McCarthy, paired with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, will be able to utilize Dallas’s strong offensive core to more lethality. When coupled with Dak Prescott’s durability, the team should be able to do just enough to hold off Philadelphia’s division push. A .459 strength of schedule, per CBS Sports (the third easiest in the NFL and the easiest among all NFC teams), should also help ease the transition.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (2019 record: 9-7)
Heading into the 2020 season, the Eagles have the risky blend of upside and uncertainty. While the receiving unit collected a nice boost in the draft, injury issues have become apparent, not only on this side of the depth chart but in other areas as well. Specifically, the once-stout offensive line will be without Brandon Brooks and Andre Dillard for the entirety of the 2020 campaign. Additional injury issues regarding Alshon Jeffery, Jalen Reagor and Miles Sanders only add to the mystery surrounding Philadelphia’s overall health as they trek into the season. Then, of course, there is Carson Wentz, who has already compiled a novel of injuries in his career.
While Philadelphia was able to weather the injury storm last season and go 5-1 against inter-division opponents, the division is stronger than it was last season. Although the Eagles still bring a legitimate shot at winning the division, given Dallas’s transition to a new head coach, depth and durability will be another recurring theme for the Eagles this season. They will still compete, but the questions will still be the same. Can the health hold up?
3. New York Giants (2019 record: 4-12)
As if they were cut from a similar cloth as the Cowboys, the Giants injected new life into the coaching staff after parting ways with Pat Shurmur and deciding to take a chance with a Bill Belichick acolyte in Joe Judge. After Daniel Jones threw for 20+ touchdowns last season, the 23-year-old will now look to improve in his sophomore campaign. Luckily for the Duke Blue Devil product, the Giants gave him help, as they drafted big-time offensive linemen in Andrew Thomas with their first-round selection. Additional line reinforcements via the draft in Matt Peart (third round) and Shane Lemieux (fifth round) will give Jones a more established pocket presence. Running back Saquon Barkley will probably like more gaps in the opposing front-sevens, too.
The pieces on offense are slowly taking shape for the Giants. While the defense is also looking to make strides, the team is still extremely raw. The ceiling is there, but so is the floor. As a result, there will be growing pains. The future is getting established. New York needs to wait just a bit longer.
4. Washington Football Team (2019 record: 3-13)
Washington might have another fourth-place finish on the horizon, but man, oh man will they be nasty in the sacking department. With Matthew Ioannidis, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen and Ryan Kerrigan (who all combined for 27 sacks last season) all returning this season, the unit should get even more explosive with the addition of Chase Young on the edge. A veteran head coach in Ron Rivera should also create for interesting scenarios as the team continues its quarterback carousel headlined by Dwayne Haskins.
Whether from the rebranding of the franchise or the restructuring of the coaching staff, Washington still has a way to go before competitive football can be expected on both sides of the gridiron. Until then, player development will move forward as the franchise attempts to turn a new leaf.