2020 NFC East Season Preview
The NFL schedule has been released and the draft is over, so now it is time to take a look at how the teams stack up this year. Over the next few days, I will do a preview on each division in the NFC and you can find more divisional previews from our great writers by visiting Winners & Whiners, StatSalt, and PickPapa. Be sure and check all of their content out as the guys put in a lot of hard work on them. Today, I will be taking a look at the NFC East, so let’s get to it.
1) Dallas Cowboys
Odds to Win Super Bowl: 12/1
Odds to Win NFC Championship: 6/1
Odds to Win NFC East: 11/10
Draft Picks: WR CeeDee Lamb (No. 17 overall), CB Trevon Diggs (No. 51 overall), DT Neville Gallimore (No. 82 overall), CB Reggie Robinson (No. 123), C Tyler Biadasz (No. 146), EDGE Bradley Anae (No. 179), QB Ben DiNucci (No. 231)
The Dallas Cowboys have been alternating going to the postseason for the last six years. They went just 8-8 last year and missed the postseason but the good news is that if the recent trend holds true, they will be in the postseason this year. After last season, the Boys finally said goodbye to Jason Garrett, who went 85-67 in nine-plus years with the team. He took them to the playoffs three times but they never made it past the divisional round. Mike McCarthy has now taken over after coaching 13 years at Green Bay. He was 125-77-2 in his time there while taking to the Pack to the postseason nine times. He won the Suber Bowl in 2010. Can McCarthy get the Cowboys back on track? We shall see.
2019 Regular Season Offensive Stats: 1st in total offense (431.5 ypg), 2nd in passing (296.9 ypg), 5th in rushing (134.6 ypg), and 6th in scoring at 27.1 ppg.
It is hard to believe that with numbers like that and a defense that was 11th in points allowed, the Cowboys still finished with an 8-8 record. That shows just how bad Garrett was. The Dallas offense should again have a strong offensive season, especially with Mike McCarthy at the helm. He had some fine offenses over the years at Green Bay and he will have one of the best in the league this year. The offense is led by Dak Prescott, who threw for 4902 yards last year with 30 Tds and 11 INts. His passer rating was a solid 99.7 a year ago. Prescott had had some fine weapons a year ago and they have added one more in WR Ceedee Lamb, who they took in the first round of the draft. The WR depth on this team is insane as you add Lamb to Michael Gallup (1107 yards, six TDs last year) and Amari Copper (1189 yards, 8 TDs), plus Randall Cobb (828 yards 3 TDs). We could see four Dallas players with over 800 yards receiving this year. They did lose TE Jason Witten to the Raiders but Dallas has some decent depth in that area as well so they should be fine.
This team isn’t all about throwing the ball all over creation as the Cowboys have a dude in the backfield who knows how to run the ball down your throat. Ezekiel Elliott is that guy and he is oof of a great season that saw him rush for 1357 yards and 12 TDs. He has now rushed for 5405 yards and 40 TDs in his first four years in the league. I will look for him to have another big season and if he does, then Prescott and that passing game will flourish again as well. The offensive line is very solid and it allowed just 1.4 sacks per game last year, which was 2nd in the league. Dallas was also 5th in rush yards per attempt at 4.8.
2019 Regular Season Defensive Stats: 9th in yards allowed (327.0 ypg), 10th against the pass (223.5 ypg), 11th against the run (103.5 ypg) and 11th in points allowed, giving up 20.1 ppg.
The Dallas defense was solid last year but it just didn’t do enough to get the Cowboys into the postseason. This year’s unit should be better. Dallas did lose Robert Quinn, Maliek Collins, and Jeff Heath in the offseason but they did add DT’s Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe along with DB Ha Ha Clinton Dix. The Cowboys needed some help in the defensive backfield and they got it with Hix, plus they got steam in the draft by taking CB Trevon Diggs with the 51st overall pick. He was originally projected as a 1st round pick. This defense should be much better this year and it could be the difference between winning the division or not.
Conclusion: I do like the Cowboys to win the division. Mike McCarthy may have not been the best choice to lead this team but he is still a far better leader than Jason Garrett was. The Boys have probably the best offense in the league, led by Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and amazing depth at WR. Oh and one of the better offensive lines in the league. The defense held them back last year but that should not be the case this year. They solidified their secondary with the additions of Dix and Diggs and the front seven has also been upgraded. The Cowboys will fight with the Eagles for first in the division but in the end, Dallas brings more to the table, on both sides of the ball.
2) Philadelphia Eagles
Odds to Win Super Bowl: 17/1
Odds to Win NFC Championship: 8/1
Odds to Win NFC East: 27/20
Draft Picks: WR Jalen Reagor (No. 21), QB Jalen Hurts (No. 53), LB Davion Taylor (No. 103), S K'Von Wallace (No. 127), OL Jack Driscoll (No. 145), WR John Hightower (No. 168), LB Shaun Bradley (No. 196), WR Quez Watkins (No. 200), OT Prince Tega Wanogho (No. 210), LB Casey Toohill (No. 233).
The Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC East with a 9-7 record last year but they lost to the Seahawks in the Wildcard round by a score of 17-9. The offense struggled at times last year and that was the case in the playoffs. Philadelphia hopes to make up for that loss but it will not be easy as the Cowboys are a vastly improved team over a year ago. Can the Eagles make it to the postseason for the 4th year in a row? We shall see.
2019 Regular Season Offensive Stats: 14th in total offense (360.8 ypg), 11th in passing (239.6 ypg), 11th in rushing (121.2 ypg), and 12th in scoring at 24.1 ppg.
The Eagles were a rather mediocre offensive team last year and I was not impressed with what they did in the draft to help the offense. The Eagles needed to get a top-notch wide receiver in the draft and they failed to do so. Philly did grab Jalen Reagor but there were better receivers on the board when they did so. Reagor is solid receiver but they could have done better and then with their second pick, the Eagles took QB Jalen Hurts, who they probably could have got later in the draft. It was a curious first two draft picks for the Eagles. They do still have Zach Ertz, who lead the team last with 916 yards receiving while Dallas Goedert was 2nd with 607 yards. The problem is that both those guys are tight ends. Third on the team was RB Miles Sanders with 609 yards. The top receiver was Alshon Jeffery with 490 yards while 2nd was Nelson Agholor with 363 yards. Philly should have DeSean Jackson back after he played in just three games last year and they did add Marquise Goodwin, be he had just 15 yards receiving in nine games for the Niners last year. The Eagles needed to add a top-notch WR in the draft and they didn’t. They have some good players in this group but some are aging and some are injury-prone.
Despite not having great receivers last year, Carson Wentz sill threw for 4039 yards with 27 TDs and just seven INTs. Just think about what he could do with a strong WR corps. Wentz is also injury prone and was knocked out early in the playoff game against Seattle. They didn’t have Nick Foles to back him up anymore, which is probably why they went for Hurts so early. The running game is pretty solid with Miles Sanders, who had 818 yards in his rookie year. Philly went out and got Jordan Howard last year but he had just 525 yards rushing and missed six games, plus the playoff game. Howard is now with the Dolphins but the eagles will have Corey Clement back after missing most of last year, plus they have Boston Scott, who showed promise in his two games he started a year ago. The offensive line is solid once again and they added Jack Driscoll through the draft. The line should be fine.
2019 Regular Season Defensive Stats: 10th in yards allowed (331.7 ypg), 19th against the pass (241.6 ypg), 3rd against the run (90.1 ypg) and 15th in points allowed, giving up 22.1 ppg.
The Philadelphia defense was very average overall. They were stout against the run but struggled against the pass. Despite ranking 19th against the pass last year, it was far better than the ranking of 30 that they had the year before. It was a nice improvement but it still needs to be better if the Eagles are expected to win the NFC East. The secondary was an area of concern and Philly hopes that they solved the problem by getting Darius Slay in the offseason. He is one of the best corners in the league. They also used a 4th round pick to select S K'Von Wallace from Clemson. The pass defense could continue to improve and that would be a good complement to a run defense that was one of the best in the league last year. The linebacking corps added some solid depth after draft three of them, including 3rd round pick Davion Taylor from Colorado. Look for the defense to be improved this year overall.
Conclusion: The Eagles have a solid team overall but I feel they will come up just a bit short in winning the NFC East. The offense should be solid but there are still questions in the wide receiver corp and they do not have a proven backup QB if the injury-prone Carson Wentz goes down. The defense will be improved against the pass, especially with the addition of Darius Slay, while the running game should again be solid. Philly does have a nice team on their hands but still, they are good for just 10 wins and I see the cowboys grabbing 11. Despite that, a wildcard berth could be in the cards for the Eagles.
3) New York Giants
Odds to Win Super Bowl: 60/1
Odds to Win NFC Championship: 30/1
Odds to Win NFC East: 15/2
Draft Picks: OT Andrew Thomas (No. 4), S Xavier McKinney (No. 36), OT Matt Peart (No. 99), CB Darnay Holmes (No. 110), G Shane Lemieux (No. 150), LB Cam Brown (No. 183), EDGE Carter Coughlin (No. 218), LB T.J. Brunson (No. 238), CB Chris Williamson (No. 247), LB Tae Crowder (No. 255)
The New York Giants have had six losing seasons out of the last seven and the last three years they were a combined 12-36. Pat Shurmur is now out as head coach after going just 9-23 in his two years at the helm. The Giants have brought in Joe Judge to run the show after he spent the last eight years as the special team’s coach of the New England Patriots. The Giants have also said goodbye to long time QB Eli Manning, who retired after 16 years with the team. Many changes have happened in New York. Can Joe Judge get them pointed in the right direction? Keep reading to find out.
2019 Regular Season Offensive Stats: 23rd in total offense (338.5 ypg), 18th in passing (233.2 ypg), 19th in rushing (105.3 ypg), and 18th in scoring at 21.3 ppg.
The offense was not what the giants expected it to be last year, but Eli did play just a few games and the offense was left in the hands of rookie QB Daniel Jones. He had his moments last year in throwing for 3027 yards with 24 TDs and 12 INTs. In his final two games, the rookie threw for 653 yards with six TDs and just one INT. This is now his team and the Giants will look for bigger things in his second year. He does have some nice weapons to throw to in rookie Darius Slayton, who led the teams in receiving (740 yards), Golden Tate, who was 2nd (646 yards), and Sterling Shepard, who was 3rd (576 yards). Tate and Shepard missed a combined 11 games or their numbers could have been better. If healthy, this is a solid WR corps.
The running game is anchored by Saquon Barkley, who rushed for 1003 yards and six Tds a year ago. That was down from the 1307 yards he put up in his rookie season but Barkley did miss three games a season ago. There is not much depth behind him as Jones was 2nd on the team in rushing last year with 279 yards and the Giants did not address that in the offense. The one area they did work on was the offensive line, especially in the draft where they selected OT Andrew with the 4th overall pick and OT Matt Peart with the 35th overall pick. New York also added OG Shane Lemieux in the 5th round. The Giants were sacked 2.7 times per game, which was 20th in the league last year. Overall, this has the makings of a very solid offense.
2019 Regular Season Defensive Stats: 25th in yards allowed (377.3 ypg), 28th against the pass (264.1 ypg), 20th against the run (113.3 ypg) and 30th in points allowed, giving up 28.2 ppg.
The defense was one of the worst in the league last year, but it should be a bit better this year. The Pass defense struggled mightily but the Giants hope they have solved that problem by taking DB Xavier McKinney from Alabama in the 2nd round. They also used a 4th round pick on CB Darnay Holmes from UCLA. Safety Jabrill Peppers is back after posting one INT last year along with forcing three fumbles. The linebacking corps does need some work and they were just 21st in the league in sacks per game at 2.2. The defensive line was not bad at all as they allowed just 3.9 yards per rush, which was 4th in the league. The middle of the defense is a question mark but still, the New York defense will be improved overall.
Conclusion: A few weeks ago I did a podcast and stated that I thought the giants would finish last in the division but after their draft, I feel that they will finish 3rd. The Giants have upgraded their offensive line, while the WR corps has some solid weapons on it and Daniel Jones is now in his 2nd year. The defense was a bigger issue last year but the Giants had a very nice draft to shore up the secondary. The middle of the defense is still weak but the defensive line is a strength. The Giants are not a playoff-caliber team but they should improve on the four wins they posted a year ago. I see seven wins for New York this year.
4) Washington Redskins
Odds to Win Super Bowl: 200/1
Odds to Win NFC Championship: 100/1
Odds to Win NFC East: 11/1
Draft Picks: EDGE Chase Young (No. 2 overall), RB/WR Antonio Gibson (No. 66 overall), OT Saahdiq Charles (No. 108), WR Antonio Gandy-Golden (No. 142), C Keith Ismael (No. 156), LB Khaleke Hudson (No. 162), S Kamren Kurl (No. 216), EDGE James Smith-Williams (No. 229)
The Washington Redskins had a horrible 3-13 season a year ago, so they will be hoping for a move back to respectability this year. Jay Gruden was fired after Washington’s 0-5 start and cleaning up for Washington was Billy Callahan. Taking over this year will be Ron Rivera, who was fired after week 13 last year by the Carolina Panthers. He was 76-63-1 in 140 games with the team and took them to the Super Bowl in 2015. Can Rivera get them back on the right track? We shall see.
2019 Regular Season Offensive Stats: 31st in total offense (274.7 ypg), 32nd in passing (175.8 ypg), 22nd in rushing (98.9 ypg), and 32nd in scoring at 16.6 ppg.
The offense was a major problem for the Redskins last year. Alex Smith missed the entire season so the offense was left to Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins. Keenum threw for 1707 yards with 11 TDs and six INTs before going down with an injury. Haskins took over and did not have a great rookie season as he threw for just 1365 yards with seven TDs and seven INTs. His passer rating was 76.1. Keenum is no longer in the team so it will be the Haskins show this year unless, by some miracle, Alex Smith will come back. Washington did add Steven Montez (Colorado), who many felt should have gone in the draft. He should have been a 5th rounder at least. The passing game was the worst in the league last year but they hope that with Haskins getting more experience, he will be their QB of the future.
The wide receiver corps was very thin last year with rookie Terry McLaurin leading the way at 919 yards. Second was RB Chris Thompson, who had 378 yards. The Redskins hope that they have addressed the WR issues by drafting Antonio Gibson (Memphis) in the 3rd round and Antonio Gandy-Golden (Liberty) in the 4th round. At least Washington is trying to get Haskins some more weapons. Now he just has to do his job. The running game was led by the ageless Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 898 yards a season ago. Second on the team was rookie Derrius Guice, who had 245 yards. He only played in five games last year and if healthy, he could have a big season. The offensive line does need some work but overall, this offense should be much better than last year’s group.
2019 Regular Season Defensive Stats: 27th in yards allowed (385.1 ypg), 18th against the pass (238.9 ypg), 31st against the run (146.2 ypg) and 27th in points allowed, giving up 27.2 ppg.
Just like the offense, the defense also had its issues last year, ranking near the bottom of the league yards allowed, points allowed and rushing yards allowed. The defensive line needs the most work after ranking 25th in rush yards per average at 4.7. They were 10th in sacks per game at 2.9, but that was due more to their linebacking crew. The defensive line got a major upgrade in the offseason with the addition of EDGE rusher Chase Young, who Washington took with the 2nd overall pick in the draft. Young had 16.5 sacks, 21 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles for Ohio State last year. He could very well be Defensive Rookie Of The Year this season. Young will pair nicely with Montez Sweat, who had seven sacks as a rookie last year. This could be the most dominant defensive line in the league. The rest of the defense needs some work, but still, it should be improved overall.
Conclusion: The Washington Redskins are not a team that will flirt with the playoffs or even a .500 record but they will be an improved team over the one that won just three games a year ago. The offense should be better with Haskins having a year under his belt and the addition of a couple of receivers from the draft. The running game should improve if Guice remains healthy all year. The back seven on defense has some holes but the defensive line could be one of the best in the league, especially with the addition of Chase Young. The Skins will put plenty of pressure on the QB this year. Ron Rivera is a solid coach and he will get them turned around, but it will take a couple of years to do so. For this year, I see six wins at best for the Redskins.