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2018 NFC East Preview: Can the Eagles be Knocked from their Perch?

SBD Staff Writer

by SBD Staff Writer in NFL Football

Aug 2, 2018 · 12:43 PM PDT

Carson Wentz throw downfield
Cardon Wentz and the Eagles are ready to take flight in 2018. Photo by Keith Allison (flickr) [CC License]
  • Will the Eagles be able to repeat as division champs if Wentz isn’t 100%?
  • Can Prescott and Elliott carry the Cowboys to the postseason?
  • Will the Giants’ new offensive weapons make a difference when it counts?

The NFC East: Home to the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz rounded into MVP form in his second season before Nick Foles took home Super Bowl LII honors with Wentz sidelined with an ACL injury.

The Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and Washington Redskins all fell short of expectations in 2017 and are champing at the bit to flip the script this season.

Much has changed over the offseason, so let’s take a look at the NFC East.

Odds to Win the NFC East

Team Sportsbook 1 Odds Sportsbook 2 Odds 2017 SU Record 2017 ATS Record 2017 Divsion Rank
Philidelphia Eagles -150 -165 13-3 10-6 1
Dallas Cowboys +400 +350 9-7 8-7-1 2
New York Giants +500 +600 3-13 7-9 4
Washington Redskins +600 +750 7-9 7-9 7-9

Philidelphia Eagles

After going 13-3 with a Super Bowl win, the Eagles enter 2018 as the league’s top dogs. But, if Wentz isn’t ready for Week 1, Nick Foles will have to continue to lead the Eagles to some early W’s. That could be especially important with their division rivals aggressively trying to make up for last season’s shortcomings.

Nick Foles became the tenth backup QB, and first in 16 years (Tom Brady) to win the Super Bowl

Wide receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor entered 2017 with plenty of skeptics. Jeffrey wasn’t the player he once was, while Agholor’s physical skill-set didn’t match his production. But they enter 2018 as one of the league’s most formidable duos after performing admirably, especially in the Super Bowl.

The defensive line may have been the best in the league last year, and they’ve gotten even better this season after adding former Pro-Bowlers Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata.

Eagles’ Key 2018 Additions/Departures

Eagles’ Key 2018 Additions Eagles’ Key 2018 Departures
Michael Bennett (DL) Patrick Robinson (CB)
Mike Wallace (WR) Torrey Smith (WR)
Haloti Ngata (DT) Brent Celek (TE)
Dallas Goedert (TE) – Rookie Trey Burton (TE)
LeGarrette Blount (RB)

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas’ 9-7 finish wasn’t all that bad considering the offense’s serious struggles pushing the ball downfield and the scrutiny surrounding stars Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant. Elliott had to sit due to suspension, and Bryant disappointed on the field for the third consecutive season.

Elliott is the most talented player on the Cowboys roster so it goes without saying that the offense needs to run through him. Prescott is a solid young QB, but hasn’t shown the ability to carry the team on his shoulders just yet.

Some questioned the selection of linebacker Leighton Vander Esch because of the hole left by Bryant’s release. However, the Cowboys were very comfortable with their plan of selecting him first while developing Michael Gallup (third round) as their eventual #1 WR.

For all the talk about the Cowboys offense, they’re undergoing a complete overhaul on D.

Rod Marinelli may still be Dallas’ defensive coordinator, but newly hired defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Kris Richard has already put his stamp on the team. Richard is the alleged heir apparent to Marinelli and has installed the Cover Three defense he brings from Seattle.

Byron Jones is back at corner and could really thrive there given the new scheme.

Sean Lee, Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith have impressive talent, but all three have question marks regarding performing for a 16-game NFL schedule. If all three can deliver this year, it will go a long way in the Cowboys’ win column.

Cowboys’ Key 2018 Additions/Departures

Cowboys’ Key 2018 Additions Cowboys’ Key 2018 Departures
Kony Ealy (DE) Dez Bryant (WR)
Allen Hurns (WR) Jason Witten (TE)
Tavon Austin (RB) Orlando Scandrick (CB)
Michael Gallup (WR) – Rookie Alfred Morris (RB)
Leighton Vander Esch (LB) – Rookie

New York Giants

The Giants are the team that fell the hardest last season. A 3-13 record was not in the plans, but Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall’s ankles and Sterling Shepherd’s five missed contests were too much to overcome. Eli Manning was benched for the first time in his career, and it cost Ben McAdoo his job as head coach.

Marshall is gone, but Beckham Jr. and Shepherd are back, plus Evan Engram and Barkley. The Penn State product is a do-it-all back who threatens to score on every touch.

Barkley’s arrival will revive the running game and will do wonders for Manning on check-downs and screens.

The NY Giants scored six rushing touchdowns in 2017, only Miami and Seattle had less with four.

The Giants well-compensated defense had no chance due to the offense’s failures, but premier players like Landon Collins and Olivier Vernon will have their shot at redemption.

Giants’ Key 2018 Additions/Departures

 

Giants’ Key 2018 Additions Giants’ Key 2018 Departures
Nate Solder (OT) Orleans Darkwa (RB)
Alec Ogletree (LB) Jason Pierre-Paul (DE)
Jonathan Stewart (RB) Brandon Marshall (WR)
Saquon Barkley (RB) – Rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (CB)
Will Hernandez (OG) – Rookie DJ Fluker (OG)
Shane Vereen (RB)

Washington Redskins

At last, the Kirk Cousins saga has come to an end in Washington. Alex Smith is in and Jay Gruden can sleep easy.

WR Paul Richardson was signed to give them an athletic outside threat, and LSU standout Derrius Guice was drafted to spearhead the running attack. Gruden’s offense is more complete and should be more effective with Smith at the helm.

Washington’s pass-defense (9th) was ranked higher than Philly’s (16th) in 2017, but their run-D was dead-last, getting gashed for an average of 134.1 yards-per-game. Drafting Alabama’s Da’ron Payne (DT) 13th overall should help stop the bleeding, and snatching CB Orlando Scandrick from the Cowboys was a deft move.

Redskins’ Key 2018 Additions/Departures

 

Redskins’ Key 2018 Additions Redskins’ Key 2018 Departures
Alex Smith (QB) Kirk Cousins (QB)
Orlando Scandrick (CB) Ryan Grant (WR)
Paul Richardson (WR) Bashaud Breeland (CB)
Pernell McPhee (DE) Terrelle Pryor (WR)
Da’Ron Payne (DT) – Rookie
Derrius Guice (RB) – Rookie
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