2018 NFC East Preview: Can the Eagles be Knocked from their Perch?
- 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|
|New York Giants||+500||+600||3-13||7-9||4|
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.
And Agholor had a breakout year, here’s a cool stat, led league in most receptions on 3rd and 4th without a drop, which is pretty important and oh look there’s alshon Jeffery! pic.twitter.com/IzLP7zcGiW
— SnAgholor (@SnAgholor13) July 23, 2018
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.
Top 8 Defensive Lines in 2018:
FULL: https://t.co/ZW9popoPwf (via @greggrosenthal) pic.twitter.com/SnfHqusUNN
— NFL (@NFL) May 24, 2018
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’ 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.
The Cowboys are showing film of Carson Wentz to help make Dak a better quarterback: https://t.co/oDVl8j6lsI
— Life of a Philly Fan (@PhillyFanLife) July 29, 2018
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.
The Dallas Cowboys select Leighton Vander Esch, who led all FBS inside linebackers with 57 run stops in 2017 #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/EbDMuzI4ZR
— PFF (@PFF) April 27, 2018
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.
Alec Ogletree never really had much of a chance against Saquon Barkley here. #Giants pic.twitter.com/NY9FrN9mrD
— Matt Lombardo (@MattLombardoNFL) July 30, 2018
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.
Landon Collins is the only safety in the NFL to post a top 20 grade in coverage and against the run in each of the past two seasons. pic.twitter.com/10IwIAyimz
— PFF (@PFF) July 22, 2018
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)|
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.
The Washington Redskins stop the slide and draft LSU running back Derrius Guice, who was one of the toughest running backs in the nation to tackle pic.twitter.com/lfONEqsmSv
— PFF (@PFF) April 28, 2018
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|