1. Washington Redskins– The NFC East has always been a division that I’ve referred to as unpredictable and that couldn’t be any more accurate with the Washington Redskins who claimed the NFC East division title for the first time since 2012. Jay Gruden took a chance and made the choice to bench Robert Griffin III for Kirk Cousins and it worked. Had the decision backfired, Jay Gruden wouldn’t have a job by now. The Redskins made a few moves this off-season. They signed Vernon Davis and they also won the Josh Norman sweepstakes and signed him once he became a free agent. Whenever I saw the Redskins offense last year, one guy really stood out to me and that was Jordan Reed. He’s a talented tight end that almost plays the position as if he were a wide receiver and he had a breakout year in 2015 and looks to be even better in 2016. The Redskins top priority was to boost up their pass rush after struggling to get after Aaron Rodgers in the Wild Card game in January.
2. Philadelphia Eagles– They spent most of the off-season trying to fix the mess that Chip Kelly left after the team decided to fire him before last season ended. Doug Pederson is now the Eagles new head coach and the team also traded DeMarco Murray to the Tennessee Titans after signing him to a big contract. The Eagles also traded Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell to the Dolphins and resigned Fletcher Cox to a contract extension. Before the draft, the Eagles traded up with the Titans so they could have the number two pick and they drafted Carson Wentz as their quarterback of the future. Despite the rumors that he was going to be traded, Sam Bradford will be back under center for the Eagles. There’s a new head coach, a new defensive coordinator but a lot of uncertainty still remains in the city of brotherly love.
3. New York Giants– It was a down year in East Rutherford for the G-Men. The offense handled its business and Odell showed no signs of a second year slump. He’s emerged as Eli Manning’s go to guy and he will only get better with time. What hurt the Giants was their defense and the inability to close games out. They blew seven leads in the fourth quarter last season alone and those could have easily been wins. When Jason Pierre-Paul came back, he gave them a boost and didn’t necessarily hit the quarterback, but he did more than enough to pressure the quarterback. The Tom Coughlin era came to an end after 12 seasons, 102 wins as head coach and two Super Bowl victories. The Giants stayed in-house and promoted offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo to head coach. The main priority was defense and how could they improve it? When free agency started, the Giants landed Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison to add some punch to the defensive line, resigned JPP for another season and also signed cornerback Janoris Jenkins. We could potentially see Odell and Victor Cruz on the field at the same time this year.
4. Dallas Cowboys– A year after winning the division, things went south for the Cowboys in 2015. In week one, Dez Bryant went down with a broken foot and then a week later, Tony Romo broke his collarbone. Without Romo, the Cowboys lost seven straight games after a 2-0 start and I think we all appreciate Romo a little bit more after seeing how poorly the team played without him. With Romo and Dez both coming back and staying healthy, the offense will be potent. The Cowboys also fixed their running back issues after they drafted Ezekiel Elliot from Ohio State and with that offensive line still intact, this could be a special year at Jerry World and we could see the Cowboys return back to the playoffs.
1. Cowboys (11-5)
2. Giants (9-7)
3. Redskins (8-8)
4. Eagles (6-10)
I like the Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC East for the second time in as many years. When Tony Romo has balance on his side offensively, that’s when he’s at his best. When he isn’t throwing the football 45-50 times a game, the Cowboys win games and they need to get back to that philosophy. The defense will need to step it up and make plays and be more consistent in all phases of the game.