September 3, 2017 by squish
(Courtesy of Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)
Written by Alex Salucco
The NFC East is the most competitive division in football and I would watch a lot more of their games if they weren’t on Fox – well I watch them, I just mute Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Even with the sound off, all four teams in this division made noise this offseason and improved their squads.
2016-17 record: 13-3 (1st)
Key additions: G Jonathan Cooper, CB Nolan Carroll, S Robert Blanton, DE Taco Charlton, CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Jourdan Lewis, S Xavier Woods, CB Marquez White
Key losses: T Doug Free, G Ronald Leary, CB Brandon Carr, CB Morris Claiborne, S J.J. Wilcox
After an impressive 2016-17 campaign, can America’s team deliver? Maybe they can, but Zeke won’t be there until week eight because the ‘man’ can’t keep his hands to himself. My distain for him aside, the Cowboys will undoubtedly miss last season’s leader in rushing yards and fake cereal eating…he just really loves his milk.
Veteran backs Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris will carry the ball in Zeke’s absence and will have to do so with tackle Doug Free gone. For most teams that would be a hit, but La’el Colins is more than ready to fill the role and create holes that a SIlverado could fit through.
Their secondary took a hit with both Mo Claiborne and Brandon Carr leaving via free agency and their defense led by Sean Lee has always been inconsistent. They signed versatile corner Nolan Caroll and drafted Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis to bolster depth at the position so consider that a downgrade. Their biggest problem however was a weak pass rush, a problem they tackled by drafting Taco Charlton out of Michigan who totaled 10 sacks in 11 games last season for the Wolverines. Oh yeah, and Jaylon Smith finally appears to be healthy to give them an extra push on third downs.
This team’s success will be entirely dependent on the driver, Dak Prescott.
Team MVP/X-Factor: Dak Prescott
Prescott is the MVP and X-Factor because HE HAS TO BE. With Elliot gone for the first six games of the season, Jason Garrett and the Cowboys will let the leash go on the second year signal caller and he won’t let them regret it. Expect a big year from Prescott and prepare to see his leadership qualities grow stronger as the season goes on.
2017-18 prediction: 11-5 (1st)
2016-17 record: 7-9 (4th)
Key additions: WR Alshon Jeffery, RB LeGarrette Blount, WR Torrey Smith, DE Chris Long, DT Timmy Jernigan, DE Derek Barnett, CB Sidney Jones, CB Rasul Douglas, RB Donnel Pumphrey, WR Mack Hollins, WR Shelton Gibson
Key losses: DE Connor Barwin, NT Bennie Logan, CB Nolan Carroll, CB Leodis McKelvin
With as crowded the Eagles backfield is, LeGarrette Blount is hardly an addition and doesn’t fit with their system. That seems to be the trend with their offseason acquisitions as Torrey Smith also seems to make no sense for this team. As for the Alshon Jeffrey signing, I don’t know if anybody knows what to expect.
People forget that Jeffrey has missed 11 games the last two seasons, has failed to reach 1,000 yards the past two seasons and only has six touchdowns in that span. His hamstring issues continue to linger and athletes generally do not get better after failing PED tests. However, Jeffrey is on a one year deal and that is motivation enough to put up numbers and the Eagles sure hope they benefit from that.
Team MVP: Zach Ertz
Ertz will see less pressure with Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffrey both drawing attention from safeties. We all know Doug Pederson loves drawing up plays for tight ends and Ertz will thrive this year.
Team X-Factor: Carson Wentz
Although this years additions do not make sense for the Eagles’ scheme, Ginger Jesus has plenty of weapons at his disposal and a whole year under his belt. He is set up to succeed so let’s se if he takes advantage of it.
2017-18 prediction: 7-9 (3rd)
New York Giants
2016-17 record: 11-5 (2nd)
Key additions: WR Brandon Marshall, OL D.J. Fluker, TE Evan Engram, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, DE Avery Moss
Key losses: WR Victor Cruz, K Robbie Gould
Eli Manning has plenty of weapons and no excuses this season. Already with OBJ and Sterling Sheppard at his disposal, the G-Men signed Brandon Marshall and drafted tight end Evan Engram. But we’re talking about Eli, a guy who has averaged over one interception per game for his career.
The backfield is crowded without a clear leader. Paul Perkins has a full year under his belt, Orleans Darkwa should see some snaps, Shane Vereen is the clear favorite on third down and Wayne Gallman seems to be there simply for show. Whoever is out there doesn’t figure to factor as much behind a subpar offensive line that has room for D.J. Fluker on it’s roster.
This defense is a strength for the Giants. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon can feel comfortable selling out with DRC, Eli Apple and Janoris Jenkins shutting down receivers.
Team MVP: Odell Beckham Jr.
It’s crazy to think that this season could be OBJ’s most productive yet. This is a guy that I believe will go down as the best wideout in NFL history and he’s only 25. Constantly getting doubled last season he caught over 100 balls while eclipsing 10 touchdowns and 1,300 yards for the third time in as many seasons. Add Marshall and Engram to the defenses game plan and we might see an historic season.
Team X-Factor: Brandon Marshall
I’ve talked about it before so I won’t waste much time on this. Coming off of a great 2015 campaign, Marshall stunk it up last year with the Jets. Now that he has a viable QB and will see less doubles, Marshall should enjoy success in red and blue.
2017-18 prediction: 9-7 (2nd)
2016-17 record: 8-7-1 (3rd)
Key additions: WR Terrelle Pryor, LB Stacy McGee, LB Terrell McClain, S D.J. Swearinger, DL Jonathan Allen, DE Ryan Anderson, CB Fabian Moreau, RB Samaje Perine
Key losses: General Manager Scot McCloughan, Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry, WR DeSean Jackson, WR Pierre Garçon
As much as I hated them both in college (Go Blue) it’s hard to hate Kirk Cousins and Terrelle Pryor in the pros. Cousins has thrown for over 9,000 yards the past two seasons and Pryor totaled over 1,000 yards in his first full season as a receiver. As great as this duo is expected to be, the Skins will miss DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. Even with three viable options in Pryor, Jameson Crowder and Jordan Reed, that defense will let them down.
In terms of yards, Washington had the fifth worst defense in the league last year (no wonder Joe Barry got booted.) Defense was the focus in the offseason and in the draft, but with so many talented offenses in the division, I’m not sure the new looks will get the job done. As much as I’d like to see this team succeed, the defense just won’t let them.
Team MVP: Terrelle Pryor
With Jackson and Garçon gone, Pryor will get every chance to benefit fro Cousins’ deep ball. I don’t see this team making the playoffs but Pryor has the talent to help Washington steal a few games within the division and make it harder for those teams to pull away.
Team X-Facor: Josh Doctson
Last year’s 22nd overall pick is not getting a lot of praise from his head coach. After only catching two passes last season and sitting out most of this preseason with hamstring issues, Jay Gruden said “[Doctson] hasn’t done a lot for us.”
Docston has immense talent totaling over 2,400 yards receiving and 25 touchdowns in his last two years in college. If he can get healthy he provides another weapon for Cousins and the Redskins.
2017-18 prediction: 6-10 (4th)