NFL predictions: The NFC East Will be Stronger
In this April 29, 2016, file photo, Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick Ezekiel Elliott, a running back who played at Ohio State, poses with his jersey in front of his locker at the team’s training facility in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
Here are some bold predictions for the 2015-2016 season:
2016-2017 NFC East Champions: Dallas Cowboys (11-5)
2015-2016 finish: (4-12), 4th place.
Although the Dallas Cowboys finished towards the very bottom of the league last year, many say it’s because of the inevitable: a Tony Romo injury.
He’s back now, again, and the Cowboys’ offense will be back on track after their deplorable offensive performance last season that was 31st in the league. In addition, Dez Bryant (who also struggled with injuries last season) is healthy, and they also drafted what Cowboy fans hope to be something like the next coming of Emmitt Smith in Ezekiel Elliot.
Everyone knows about the Dallas offense, but their defense will be the telling story of the season. It will make or break them. This sub-par offense will have to step up and be average at minimum, or another improved team in the East may sneak up on them for that No. 1 spot.
Also, without a reliable backup quarterback, they are flirting with yet another disaster—one that ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith already predicted. The Cowboys aren’t a solid lock at one, but if everything goes as it has the potential to, they should win the East.
— NFL (@NFL) July 19, 2016
2. New York Giants (10-6).
2015-2016 finish: (6-10), 3rd place.
The other improved team that may sneak up on the Cowboys is the Giants. This is a team that had many of the same problems as Dallas last season: defense and injuries. Will that narrative change under first-year head coach Ben McAdoo? If so, it starts with Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, Oliver Vernon and Damon Harrison to help boost this defense.
This receiving core will grow even more with the addition of Sterling Shepard, who’s already been compared to Odell Beckham Jr. in training camp with his skill set after being compared to the seasoned veteran Victor Cruz immediately following the NFL Draft. The Giants can be a very exciting team to watch this season, and there will be a dogfight for 1st place in the NFC East.
3. Washington Redskins (6-10).
2015-2016 finish: (9-7). 1st place.
This is a team that had the same problems as both the Cowboys and Giants last season. The only difference is the severity of the struggles.
Inconsistency may be the story this team tells at the end of the season, along with a tougher schedule in 2016. For once in what seems like forever, the Redskins can say confidently that Kirk Cousins is the starting quarterback—but that won’t be enough. It won’t be enough to keep up with Tony Romo or Eli Manning. This year, don’t look for Washington to get lucky like they did last season. The Cowboys and Giants won’t both fall apart again.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12).
2015-2016 finish: (7-9).
The Eagles will take the Cowboys’ spot from last season under new head coach Doug Pederson. It will take Philly some time to adjust and warm up to their new coach.
Reverting back to some of their old ways, an offense very similar to Andy Reid’s won’t go smoothly right off the bat, with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz presumably under center. There’s a chance he will be a bust, or he won’t be ‘the answer’ for the Eagles, much like Robert Griffin III when Washington decided to place their bets on a rookie. Maybe, just maybe, throughout all this uncertainty everything will click. Only the season will tell.
The NFC East will have two teams in the playoffs for the first time since 2009.