NFC East Preview

In my opinion, the NFC East is really a two-horse race. Realistically, the only two teams that are playoff worthy are the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles. Every team in this division has a question at QB except for the Dallas Cowboys. This should make for an interesting division with some close (yet still some awful) games. Below I am going to break down each team, from my least favorite to my projected division winner!

New York Giants (2021 Record: 4-13; NFC East Standing: 4th)

2022 Draft Picks:

Round 1, pick #5 – Kayvon Thibodeaux (Edge)

Round 1, pick #7- Evan Neal (OT)

Round 2, pick #11- Wan’Dale Robinson (WR)

Round 3, pick #3- Joshua Ezeudo (G)

Round 3, pick #17- Cordale Flott (CB)

Round 4, pick #7- Daniel Bellinger (TE)

Round 4, pick #9- Dane Belton (S)

Round 5, pick #3- Micah McFadden (LB)

Round 5, pick #4- DJ Davidson (DT)

Round 5, pick #30- Marcus McKethan (G)

Round 6, pick #3- Darrian Beavers (LB)

The New York Giants’ 2021 season was so bad that it got everyone on their coaching staff fired. There is video evidence of Joe Judge getting a delivery of what appears to be an entire beer store. Giants fans probably can relate after what they had to suffer through. I expect a very similar season to last year in regards to their record, but Brian Daboll’s arrival should start them on the right path as he tries to emulate the Buffalo Bills culture down in the Meadowlands of New Jersey.

Other than reaching on Wan’Dale Robinson, the Giants had a solid draft, which should give the Giant’s fans some hope. It will be interesting to see what Thibodeaux brings to the table in his rookie year, because he was a great value pick for them at #5.

I expect that we’ll see a heavy dose of Saquon Barkley as he tries to get back to what he was in his rookie year. I think he’ll be used in a ton of different ways since he is without a doubt their best offensive weapon! The Giants will most likely punt this year and address their QB position in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Key Concerns:

  • The most glaring concern is obviously Daniel Jones. He has struggled in almost every way possible, most glaringly in the turnover department. You just can’t give the ball to the other team the way he has done so far. I could see the Giants pulling him for Tyrod Taylor if he keeps it up. Say what you want about Taylor, but he does take care of the football.
  • Another concern I have about the Giants is their brand new coaching staff. Can Daboll be a good head coach in this league? I, for one, always thought he was overrated as a play caller in Buffalo. There were some reports that he and McDermott didn’t see eye-to-eye. I will be looking to see if he can mature as a coach as the season unfolds.
  • Their WR core is also a big question mark. They severely overpaid Kenny Golladay, who had his worst season to date last year. Kadarius Toney looks like he could be special but looks to be a little immature, while Wan’Dale is a speedster but is still a rookie. If these guys don’t play well it’s going to get ugly out there.

Path to the Playoffs:

It would take a modern day miracle for this team to get even a whiff of the playoffs. Daniel Jones would have to shock the world and the entire roster top to bottom would have to overachieve. Dak Prescott would both have to get hurt, plus probably a couple more starters from each side of the ball. Philly’s offense would have to forget to play football, too. Honestly, half the NFC  may have to be injured if they were to get in.  Stick a fork in them and buy some more beer if you’re a Giants fan.

’22 record prediction: 4-13 (déjà vu!)

Washington Commanders (2021 Record: 7-10; NFC East Standing: 3rd)

2022 Draft Picks:

Round 1, pick #16: Jahan Dotson (WR)

Round 2, pick #15: Phidarian Mathis (DT)

Round 3, pick #34: Brian Robinson (RB)

Round 4, pick #8: Percy Butler (S)

Round 5, pick #1: Sam Howell (QB)

Round 5, pick #6: Cole Turner (TE)

Round 7, pick #9: Chris Paul (G)

Round 7, pick #19: Christian Holmes (CB)

Looking at the Commanders’ off-season moves, it looks pretty underwhelming as a whole. They made one big move and that was to bring in QB Carson Wentz. He should be better than Heinicke (??), but that most likely wins them one more game. Wentz needs everything around him to be perfect for him to be a good QB. It is not perfect in Washington and he could struggle. One bright spot for Wentz is that he has very good WRs around him in Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson. He should be able to take shots downfield more easily than he could in Indianapolis.

The Commanders’ schedule for 2022 is easier than it was last year, but I just don’t see them beating the Cowboys or Philadelphia. It will be interesting to see how this offense progresses throughout the year and to see how they use their 3 RBs. This team has potential f they can get good QB play; however, I am not going to bet on that myself.

Key Concerns:

  • Can they keep Wentz protected? Wentz needs time because of his mechanics, processing speed, and goofy footwork. If the Commanders’ offensive line can’t protect him, they’re certainly doomed.
  • Another big concern is their third down defense. It’s hard to win when you can’t get off the field. Last year, the Commanders let opponents convert 48.5% on third downs. That’s a pretty awful stat if you’re trying to win. I have concerns that they won’t be able to improve in this metric because their LB core is questionable.
  • They only play one elite QB in Aaron Rodgers, so there is some optimism there, I suppose.
  • The red zone offense was abysmal last year and needs to be corrected if they are to have a chance for an NFC East title. They only scored 26 TDs out of 51 trips inside the 20, which ranked 29th in the league. Now you know why the Commanders’ brought in Brian Robinson from Alabama. Between him and WR Jahan Dotson, I would hope to see an improvement inside the 20. You are going to have to score to beat the better teams in the NFC East.
  • John Keim reports that DE Chase Young is expected to miss “at least” the first 4 games. That’s a big blow to the defense that you can’t replace.

Path to the Playoffs:

I don’t see them making it to the playoffs, but if they did they would have to sweep the Giants and split with both the Eagles and Cowboys to win the NFC East. They would have to beat every team that they should beat, plus upset a couple of teams out of Tennessee, Indy, 49ers, or Cleveland (with Watson.)

Their rookies would also have to immediately contribute in a very big way. If they make it to the postseason, the Cowboys and Eagles would also need to underperform.

’22 record prediction: 8-9

Dallas Cowboys (2021 Record: 12-5; NFC East Standing: 1st)

2022 Draft Picks:

Round 1, pick #24: Tyler Smith (OT)

Round 2, pick #24: Sam Williams (DE)

Round 3, pick #24: Jaylen Tolbert (WR)

Round 4, pick #24: Jake Ferguson (TE)

Round 5, pick #12: Matt Waletzko (OT)

Round 5, pick #24: DaRon Bland (DB)

Round 5, pick #33: Damone Clark (LB)

Round 5, pick #35: John Ridgeway (DT)

Round 6, pick #14: Devin Harper (LB)

Death, taxes, and the Dallas Cowboys face planting in the postseason. That’s all anyone is going to talk about in regards to the Cowboys until they win another title. There is a ton of pressure on the front office to win at least one postseason game. I wonder if it affects them on the field this year.

The Cowboys and Eagles should go toe-to-toe for the NFC East crown with two great offenses and solid defenses. Dallas isn’t quite at Philadelphia’s level on defense, but their QB is better. It will be interesting to see what Jerry Jones does if they do fail to win the East. Stay tuned! Jones always makes it interesting!

Key Concerns:

    • Looking at the Cowboys’ WR core, I have some skepticism. Amari Cooper was dealt to Cleveland, CeeDee Lamb hasn’t lived up to his hype yet, and the other guys are either injured or inexperienced. Michael Gallup is injured and will miss at least Week 1. The Cowboys have been tight-lipped about how long they expect him out, but I expect it to be a few weeks.
    • Their DBs are also a concern. Trevon Diggs is a star but he also gave up roughly 1,000 yards according to PFF. Diggs contested that on Twitter, but he obviously pays the price for his aggressive play style.
    • The Cowboys just can’t match Philly’s firepower and the Eagles defense looks amazing as well.

Path to the Playoffs:

In order to lose in the playoffs, the Cowboys will have to sweep the Giants and the Commanders. They would then have to split against the Eagles, beat all the inferior teams, and upset either the Bucs, Bengals, or the Rams. Lamb would have to take a huge step and they would also have to have great years from their RBs to upset those good teams.

’22 Record prediction: 11-6

Philadelphia Eagles (2021 Record: 9-8 NFC East Ranking: 2nd)

2022 Draft Picks:

Round 1, pick # 13: Jordan Davis (DT)

Round 2, pick #19: Cam Jurgens (C)

Round 3, pick #19: Nakobe Dean (LB)

Round 6, pick #2: Kyron Johnson (LB)

Round 6, pick #20: Grant Calcaterra (TE)

To add to a stellar draft the Eagles also traded picks #18 and #101 for AJ Brown, making this one of my favorite drafts in the league this year. They are pushing their chips in. Jordan Davis is an absolute freak of nature and I really like LB Nakobe Dean, as well. Trading for Brown puts this offense over the top on paper. Brown, WR DeVonta Smith, and TE Dallas Goedert are going to be a problem for defenses, especially in the NFC East. I just don’t see anyone able to keep up with them from this division.

Key Concerns:

  • Jalen Hurts has a lot of pressure on him. With a roster oozing with talent, it’s time to put up or shut up. Minshew is a capable QB if he falters, but if Hurts isn’t at least above average then I see Dallas taking the division.
  • They don’t have a great stable of RBs. Miles Sanders is decent but not anything special. Kenneth Gainwell flashed at times but sucked at other times. The Eagles have been linked as a team that is interested in upgrading their RB room. It would appear the team isn’t satisfied with what they have.
  • Safety could be another issue of concern with the Eagles and it could be a big concern when facing good offenses.

Path to the Playoffs

The Eagles will have to go 4-2 in division games in order to get to the playoffs, but that’s not the tallest of orders when they can beat up on Washington and New York. They should be able to start hot with an easy early schedule. I could see them going into the bye 5-1! The only have a handful of games vs. good teams, so if they go .500 against them, they get crowned division champs.

Play calling will also need to be better. There was some head-scratching calls early on in the year and they had to switch their philosophy. With Dallas on their heels, that can’t happen again. I’ll be looking to see if they can get Hurts comfortable in the pocket and comfortable throwing the ball in general.

’22 Record: 13-4

Thank you for reading! For more great content, please head on over to Sports Obsessive!

Written by Scott Acquard

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