Preview: NFC East
The NFL season is nearly upon us. With the first game on September 8th nearly upon us, now is the time to cast your NFL season predictions. This series will be split into eight segments for each NFL division. I will take the schedule, notable additions and losses (both as players and coaches) player history and game locations into consideration when predicting each teams win/loss record. With that being said, please keep in mind that this is just my opinion. The NFL is incredibly competitive and difficult to predict.
We begin with a familiar face sitting on top of the NFC East standings. Though the margin of error is shrinking for the reigning East champs.
To start, Dallas is already facing injury issues at the receiver position after losing Amari Cooper in a trade to Cleveland this last offseason. If the offense is to continue to produce at a high level, Dallas will need their third year receiver CeeDee Lamb to build on his impressive resume. In 2021, Lamb put up an impressve 1,102 yards and six touchdowns, showing growth from an already impressive rookie campaign. But this year, CeeDee will be the number one receiver, with the loss of Cooper. NFL defenses will likely through more at CeeDee and he will have to show that he is capable of being the number one option on offense.
Additionally, even with this defense leading the league in takeaways a year ago, there is some concern with this unit. Subsequently, turnovers are often hard to repeat year to year and don’t often indicate the true level of a defense. Should Dallas provide an encore in 2022, they should be fine, but expecting that volume for two years is hardly realistic.
Furthermore, even though Trevon Diggs enjoyed tremendous highs for his rookie campaign, there were more lows in 2021 as well. Diggs was just three interceptions shy of the single season record, with an impressive 11 interceptions. But advanced statistics show a much bumpier experience than what has often been reported. Per pff.com, this chart breaking down where Diggs stands is a bit more concerning when projecting long term.
|PFF coverage grade
|45th of 134
In any case, there are plenty of questions offensively and defensively for Dallas, but the NFC East is still manageable compared to other divisions in 2022. Dallas should be able to feast on the lower tier of the East to regain any lost footing played out of the division.
Conversely, few teams have improved quite as much as the Eagles. It’s easy to imagine their path to an NFC East title. In 2021 the Eagles were a competitive 9-8, a record that could easily be passed with new additions and many losses for Dallas. What’s more, the Eagles won six of their final eight regular-season games last year and snuck into the playoffs. This may be more indicative of the team they really are.
The Eagles came away with a tremendous haul of talent in the 2022 offseason. The addition of star wideout A.J. Brown will help make their offense arguably the most well rounded in the division. With a trio of Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert, Hurts should feel comfortable slinging the ball. Couple that with his running ability and the offenses ability to run the ball, Philadelphia should have no issues with moving the ball against the competing NFC East defenses.
What may be the most intimidating aspect of this Eagles team is their defense. This is a unit that already showed nice promise, yet added the likes of edge-rusher Haason Reddick, linebacker Nakobe Dean, defensive tackle Jordan Davis and cornerback James Bradberry. These additions have made the Philidelphia defense arguably the top in the division; one that has very few holes to attack.
If Jalen Hurts can take a leap, along with the newfound talent, the Eagles could easily sit atop the division.
There is a temptation to swap the Commanders with either of the top two teams. There is plenty to like about this overlooked roster. Washington rarely found consistency or rhythm in 2021. However, Washington did find ways to win games that they probably shouldn’t have, including games against Tampa Bay and Las Vegas. Should they find more consistency with their new additions, they should be a formidable team in 2022.
Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Logan Thomas and Curtis Samuel form a dangerous assault in the passing game. The passing game is complemented by an imposing set of running backs with Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic. Gibson enjoyed a career high 1,037 yards and with less defenders in the box, running lanes should be easier to find.
The Commanders boast a bevy of talent on defense. Unfortunately, that did not show at times in 2021. Washington ranked just 25th in total points allowed in 2021. An imposing front unit that showcases the likes of Chase Young and Daron Payne should have an incredibly high ceiling. Better health will allow Washington to get closer to the number four ranked defense that they were in 2020.
Carson Wentz is a season long roller coaster. One could argue that his poor play in the second half of the season cost the Colts a spot in the playoffs. Even so, Carson Wentz is a large upgrade at the position, who should only improve the Washington offense. If Wentz can find consistency and the defense can buy better health, Washington could easily find themselves in favorable position near the end of the season.
New York Giants
Lastly, the New York Giants have steadily been adding talent to their roster over the years. Unfortunately, this season is likely to much of the same story for the Giants. With numerous injuries for many years, it has been difficult to judge the talent currently residing on the roster.
Phenom running back Saquon Barkley has missed 21 games dating back to the 2019 season. In that same time span, Sterling Shephard has missed a total of 20 games. Additionally, Daniel Jones and Kenny Galloday add to the list of young offensive weapons to be regularly hindered by injuries. Who knows, maybe this is the year that New York finds better health. If this is the case, they would undoubtedly be more competitive. Unlikely as that is, considering recent history; it would go a long way in finally determining the long term outlook of the roster.
While there have been no shortage of concerns for the Giants, they have made an intentional effort to improve the talent in the trenches. As a matter of fact, first-round tackle Evan Neal and veteran interior blockers Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano will go a long way into reshaping the offensive outlook. Equally important are the additions to the front seven. In due time, Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari could prove to be an imposing group for opposing teams.
With this in mind, it is quite difficult to imagine the Giants collecting too many wins in 2021, even with a favorable schedule. The aforementioned injuries may be too much to overcome, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. All of this without mentioning that this is most likely a prove it year for Daniel Jones. At this point, Jones has struggled, with just 45 touchdowns (on a mere 62.8 completion percentage and an 84.3 QBR) and 29 interceptions in three seasons. In addition to that, Jones has also had a mind-blowing 36 fumbles. In any case, that is asking quite a lot of any team to overcome that volume.
In the next installment, we will cover the NFC North. Comment below what you think of the NFC East, as well as your predictions for the North.