By Vincent Pensabene
Leading up to the start of the NFL season, I will be breaking down the eight divisions in the National Football League followed by, my belief, on how the playoffs will break down. We will be starting off hot with the best division in football, the NFC East. All four teams have their issues that will need to be solved, but could possibly have three playoff teams coming out of the division. One of the wild card teams will definitely come from this division and the NFC East has the most combined wins at the end of the season.
Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)
The reigning Super Bowl champion continues to be loaded going into the season. After losing LeGarrette Blount and Brent Celek, they haven’t lost much on the offensive side of the ball. Also, remember that they won without the potential MVP last season in Carson Wentz, who could play week 1 after a torn ACL. With Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata beefing up their already stout defensive front, this team shouldn’t have an issue repeating as divisional champions.
New York Giants (11-5)
This offense might be the best in the NFL by the end of the season as long as Eli Manning stays healthy. I never been a fan of Webb as the backup quarterback and instead of preparing for the future and drafting a quarterback with the second pick, they decided to go for it all and got a huge play maker in Saquon Barkley, who will be dynamic out of the backfield. A big question currently is Odell Beckham Jr. who still hasn’t signed a long-term contract and could possibly sit out games if not situated by then. The team wasn’t healthy last year and as long as their offensive line holds up and the Giants can control the football regularly, they should be able to make the playoffs as a wild card team. They only play two non-star quarterbacks in Mariota and Trubisky. If they can play well and make a leap this season, they can be an issue.
Dallas Cowboys (11-5)
Who will Dak throw the ball to this season now that they cut Dez Bryant and Jason Witten retired? The Cowboys have the weakest receiving core in the NFL and could be an issue if Zeke is having a rough day. A big positive is that Zeke will not be having a dilemma with the commissioner’s office about sitting out like what happened last year, which caused Elliot to miss six games. America’s team still managed to go 9-7 with the distraction and could possibly leapfrog New York, but with the questionable receiving core and issues on the defensive side health wise, I couldn’t put them above a dynamic offense. If Sean Lee remains healthy, the defense could get the “Dak-friendly” offense on the field longer.
Washington Redskins (8-8)
I like Alex Smith, I really do. He had a good season last year as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s the problem: Washington isn’t KC. The Redskins do not have a running game, especially after rookie Guice suffered a torn ACL and will miss the entire season. They have a chance to start off hot but their last six games gives me doubt of the team (at Dallas, at Philly, vs Giants, at Jags, at Titans, vs Philly). I think they end up 2-4 at best in their own division and that includes the expectation of Philly sitting starters in Week 17. Look for Alex Smith to learn the offense and have a good draft pick in next year’s draft.