2021 NFL Preview: NFC East Division

by Wayne Root

Dallas Cowboys, Win total: 9.5
One of the biggest stories across the NFL in recent years has been what the organization would do with Dak Prescott, and the Dallas Cowboys finally locked him with a huge contract. The star quarterback went down with a brutal injury last season, so we’ll see how healthy he is as we get closer to the start of the season. Dallas should improve offensively assuming a healthy Prescott, but the defense could remain an issue for a unit that ranked No. 23 in opponent yards per play allowed last season.
Coach Mike McCarthy
QB Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Garrett Gilbert
 RB Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle
 Defense : DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Neville Gallimore
Dak Prescott’s return to the lineup alone makes the Cowboys better than any other NFC East squad. Dallas’ defense does need to be better, but the organization spent its first six draft picks on that side of the ball. Besides, the Cowboys offense is explosive enough to win the division by itself. Dan Quinn will be an interesting addition as the defensive coordinator. 

Washington Football Team, Win total: 8
Being the defending NFC East champions is usually a death sentence for a division title the next year. The Washington Football Team went 7-9 to claim the division last season and were bounced in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Washington used four starting quarterbacks, and their two main options Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins Jr. are no longer with the team. Ryan Fitzpatrick is the No. 1 guy for now, but head coach Ron Rivera said there will be competition. Despite for several NFL teams, Fitzpatrick has never led a team to the playoffs. The Football Team had a fantastic defense in 2020, but they struggled to move the ball, and there isn’t much to point to for a huge improvement.
Coach Ron Rivera
 QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen
 RB Antonio Gibson, JD McKissic, Peyton Barber
 Defense : Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Kendall Fuller,
There are 31 other teams that would definitely swap defensive lines with Washington. It's loaded with star power at the top and has tremendous depth. Chase Young and Montez Sweat should be improved from  last season, which is a terrifying thought for opposing offensive lines. The Washington Football Team has several players along their defensive line that make them a force to be reckoned with for seasons to come
New York Giants, Win total: 7
The Giants finished 6-10 in 2020, but they should be drastically improved offensively heading into the next NFL season. Daniel Jones did not have a very good season, completing 62.5% of his passes with 11 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, but he will have much better weapons this year. Star running back Saquon Barkley will return after missing nearly all of last season with a knee injury, and New York drastically improved their passing game with the addition of Kenny Golladay at the wide receiver position. Additionally, they now have a very good tight end combination after signing Kyle Rudolph to go along with former first round pick Evan Engram.
Coach Joe Judge
 QB Daniel Jones, Mike Glennon, Clayton Thorson
 RB Saquon Barkley, Devontae Booker, Corey Clement
 Defense : Blake Martinez, James Bradberry
 The single most positive development for this team over the offseason was the receiving class. Last season, the Giants’ receiving corps, for better or worse, was known mostly for Evan Engram’s drops. They lacked explosive and consistent playmakers. This offseason though, New York made a conscious effort to improve its receiving room. The Giants signed Kenny Golladay in free agency and added veterans Kyle Rudolph and John Ross before selecting wideout Kadarius Toney in the 2021 NFL Draft. After finishing dead last in the league last year in average yards after the catch per reception, New York is well-positioned for improvement next season. Having RB Saquon Barkley back will create huge interest. 

Philadelphia Eagles, Win total: 6.5
It’s officially the Jalen Hurts show in Philadelphia as he will be the quarterback moving forward with Carson Wentz now a member of the Indianapolis Colts. The Eagles went 4-11-1 last year for the bottom of the NFC East. The passing game was a bit of a mess last season between Wentz and Hurts. In his rookie season, Hurts appeared in 15 games with four starts and completed 52% of his passes with six touchdowns and four interceptions. The Eagles have a great deal of inexperience at the wide receiver position with several unproven options that a significant jump doesn’t seem likely.
Coach Nick Sirianni
 QB Jalen Hurts, Joe Flacco, Nick Mullens
 RB Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Kenny Gainwell
 Defense : Brandon Graham, Darius Slay,
Jalen Hurts is the one who’s going to command the most attention. Having Smith and Jalen Reagor helps, but Jalen Hurts is being given an opportunity in just his second season in the NFL - and with four career starts - to prove that he can be a franchise quarterback. Jonathan Gannon is in as defensive coordinator and his unit should be among the NFL’s best if Philadelphia can land a cornerback to pair opposite Darius Slay. Milton Williams (third-round pick), Tarron Jackson (sixth-round pick), and Marlon Tuipulotu (sixth-round pick) give the Eagles three versatile, high-energy guys that can help take some of the stress away from Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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