Ceilings and Floors: NFC East
We’ve weathered free agency, dealt with the Draft, and scrutinised the schedule. Now we can look ahead to real football as we build up to the start of the season. So we looked at each team’s schedule and weighed up their offseason moves to predict their best and worst records to find their potential ceilings and floors. Here’s the NFC East:
With quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott firmly established as the future of the Cowboys, they will both need to take a step forward and avoid sophomore slumps in one of the toughest divisions in football. Opposing defenses will be able to scheme for them, but they should still lead Dallas to a playoff berth. The offensive line has been reshuffled and may not be as dominant, but it’s the defense that could undo the Cowboys. Rod Marinelli’s unit lost at least four starters who have mostly been replaced by rookies. Can the unit improve enough to keep the Cowboys ahead in the NFC East?
New York Giants
The Giants reached the playoffs on the back of a dominant defense last year for the first time since their 2011 Super Bowl run. That unit returns most of its starters, and young players like corner Eli Apple will have improved. This defense should be a top five squad. However, quarterback Eli Manning struggled last season and is in the twilight of his career. The Giants drafted tight end Evan Engram and running back Wayne Gallman as well as signing Brandon Marshall in free agency to help extract one more playoff run from Manning. However, Giants didn’t add any notable linemen in the offseason, seemingly counting on improvement from the inconsistent Ereck Flowers. The offensive line could be the David that brings down the team that wants to return to being Goliath.
The Eagles finally have a young franchise quarterback after trading up last year to draft Carson Wentz. Although Wentz started strong, he struggled down the stretch. After fielding a bad receiving corps last year, Philadelphia signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency and drafted some extra targets. An already solid defense has also seen upgrades, with rushers like Chris Long, Derek Barnett and Timmy Jernigan adding to defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s stable. However, they still need a reliable workhorse to handle the power run game. If they can find a running game, Wentz shows improvement and the defense takes control of games, the Eagles could be a threat to dethrone Dallas.
After managing to keep quarterback Kirk Cousins for another season, the Redskins need to win now before he bolts in free agency next year. Despite losing DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, Washington still has weapons like Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Reed, and Brian Quick. They still need a consistent running game though. The defense needed improving, so the Redskins bolstered the front seven with free agents Terrell McClain and Zach Brown as well as draft picks Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson. This team should challenge for a playoff spot in the NFC’s toughest division.