By: Ben Brady
The 2015 NFC East was not the best showing of a balanced or feared division in the NFL. The Washington Redskins won the East with a 9-7 record, after going 7-27 the previous two seasons. The Dallas Cowboys coming into 2015 were heavily favored to improve on their 12-4 record the previous season. That would not be the case as both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant would go down, dashing any hopes for a two-peat NFC East crown. No team has won the division in back-to-back years since the Philadelphia Eagles won it four years in a row from 2001-04.
It seems like 2016 will be following the same formula as ’15. Yet again, Romo gets hurt and will likely miss the first eight games of the season. Rookie Dak Prescott will take over the team which is a massive upgrade from Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel last year. Even with Prescott and their offensive weapons, the Cowboys have a lot of unproven talent on their roster, starting with Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot.
The Philadelphia Eagles are under a new head coach in Doug Pederson. They have a rookie quarterback that they gave up 5 draft picks for in Carson Wentz. A squad with new faces leading your team in the most important areas does not exactly seem like one that is going to be competing for the NFC East crown this season.
The Washington Redskins are coming off an anomaly season in which they took advantage of a weak schedule and division to sneak into the playoffs. This is a team that is still in a rebuilding faze and has a lot of weaknesses that were exploited by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. The Redskins weak defensive line and inability to run the ball are going to be major problems heading into the season. Couple that with a schedule where the Redskins have to play Carolina, Arizona, Green Bay, Minnesota, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and it won’t be a happy outcome for Skins fans.
Lastly, the New York Giants are the popular pick to win the NFC East because they have the most stable quarterback out of all the teams in their division. Not to mention their receiving corps of Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz and Larry Donnell are solid weapons for Eli Manning. While Eli may have his faults, he has proven over multiple seasons that he can be a reliable starter in the NFL. Something none of the other quarterbacks in the division have proven.
All of these teams have major weaknesses but like last year, the division will be wide open for most of the season. None of these teams are going to run away with the division but a record of 9-7 is going to be good enough to take the NFC East crown again this season.
With the offseason additions of Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins, it has made the Giants’ biggest weakness in 2015 stronger. That with solid quarterback play and a great receiving core will give the Giants the NFC East title for the first time since 2011.
(Featured image: Damanpreet Singh, Flickr)