Some call this the highest profile division in the entire NFL. It’s hard to argue with geography and tradition. When you have teams from the big cities in the Amtrak corridor (Giants, Eagles and OTNAs), and the hated and loved (but seldom indifferent to) Cowboys, not to mention three teams that have won multiple NFL Championships – then yes a lot of people are watching what happens here. And maybe more than any other division, the NFC East in recent years has been up for grabs like a Matt Schaub floater in the slot. No team has repeated as division champion since the Eagles in 2004. And since 2011, every team has won at least one division title with the Cowboys and OTNAs each grabbing a pair. Unlike the AFC East, this is a tough call
Eagles have done more than any other team to boost their offense at the skill position with Torrey Smith, Alshon Jeffery, Donnel Pumphrey, and LaGarrette Blount (aka the Fat Pig). The Fat Pig will function as the anti-Darren Sproles. Trading Jordan Matthews is a serious and unexpected blow, but the defense needed help. Most analysts think the Eagles are a year away. Red thinks that the Carson Wentz workshop will be cranking out a bunch of touchdowns with his new tools and a solid O line. Eagles score early and often. The addition of Derek Barnett may give the Eagles the best pass rush in the NFL. Red predicts Bosa, Barnett, Graham and Cox may combine to break the NFL team sack record in 2017. And just so you don’t have to look it up that would be the Bears 72 sacks in 1984. A relatively easy early schedule (at least compared to the division rivals) has the Eagles at 6-2 at halftime and with some breathing room. It gets tougher and the season-ending matchup at home against the Cowboys will be loser goes home. Eagles don’t lose. Philadelphia wins division with a hard fought 10-6 record.
Cowboys. Smart money is on the Cowboys with 2016 ROY Dak Prescott and suspended girl-beater Ezekiel Elliott returning from unbelievable stellar rookie seasons. If all that JerryWorld had to worry about was a sophomore slump from those two, then the Cowboys would be an easy pick. But hold on Hoss. Forty percent of the best O-line in football is gone with the unexpected retirement of excellent RT Doug Free and coveted LG Ronald Leary heading to the Broncos. They are not easy to replace and a unit that played together for several seasons is not readily replicated. Add to that, the near complete fruit basket turnover in the Cowboys secondary with CBs Claiborne and Carr and Safeties Chuch and Wilcox being shown the door. That leaves Byron Jones as the only remaining starter. Unless the pass rush is much better than anticipated, expect to see the secondary getting burned early and often by the excellent wide receivers in this division. And don’t forget the tougher champions schedule. The only potential nothing-burgers on the schedule are the Rams and 49ers. Every other team can beat the Cowboys. Red sees Arlington making it to 9-7 at best.
Giants will have the best defense in the NFL this season. The line has been solid and the secondary took a big step forward with addition of Janoris Jenkins. The big question for the Giants is the offense. Young Manning is now 36 and coming off his worst season in years. Maybe adding Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram helps, but unless the Giants can run the ball, look out for trouble. As with the Boys, the Giants have a tough schedule. The Week 2 matchup with the Cowboys could be critical since they will likely be coming off a loss to the Patriots in Week 1. Realistically, New Jersey comes in as 8-8 material, but they could grab second with the Elliott suspension looming.
OTNAs (that’s Offensive Term for Native Americans for the new readers) will blow. Disarray carries the day. Landover, Md. will be lucky to see 6-10.