Survival Of The Fittest – 2022 NFC East Preview

The NFC East is historically a division that comes down to “survival of the fittest”. Just when the top dog seems to be an obvious choice, you can count on this division to throw in an unexpected monkey wrench. Since 2012, the race to the top has been between the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Commanders. As the regular season approaches, that trend should be the same with the Cowboys and Eagles being the favorites to lead the pack.

 

Dallas Cowboys

Record In 2021: 12-5

Key Player: Cornerback – Trevon Diggs

Player To Watch: Wide receiver – CeeDee Lamb

The issue with the Cowboys is not how well they can do throughout the season but how they seem to consistently implode in the postseason. Nonetheless, we did see head coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn substantially improve the team last year.

Dallas has kept most of their roster intact but the offseason departures will hurt them. This includes the exit of wide receiver Amari Cooper, defensive end Randy Gregory, safety Keanu Neal, and more.

It’s also expected that Trevon Diggs will continue to rack up interceptions and Cee Dee Lamb will play an even bigger role this season.

With that being said, the Cowboys will likely take a step back but still pose the biggest threat in the division. Prediction: 11-6

 

New York Giants

Record In 2021: 4-13

Key Player: Quarterback – Daniel Jones

Player To Watch: Running back – Saquon Barkley

The Giants are in rebuild mode with new general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll. When a team is starting over with a new regime, it takes time to see results. Especially when it comes to a team that has not won a playoff game since 2012.

There is a lot of work to be done and quarterback Daniel Jones is still a question mark. Will he finish out the season or will backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor work his way into the lineup? That remains to be seen but is a valid concern heading into the season.

On a brighter note, the Giants drafted talented edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and tackle Evan Neal during the offseason. Thibodeaux sprained his MCL in preseason, which will keep him on the sidelines through September.

Additionally, running back Saquon Barkley had an unusually quiet 2021 campaign. He made it very clear that he is ready to make a comeback during a recent podcast appearance: “Now it’s kill mindset. I’m ready to go crazy, and I’m gonna let the world feel me,” Barkley said. Prediction: 6-11

 

Philadelphia Eagles

Record In 2021: 9-8

Key Player: Quarterback – Jalen Hurts

Player To Watch: Wide Receiver – A.J. Brown

The Eagles automatically increased their stock when they traded for former Tennessee Titans’ wide receiver A.J. Brown. Brown had 63 catches for 869 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games last season. He also climbed over the 1,000-yard receiving mark in each of his first two seasons. With Brown’s talents lining up alongside DeVonta Smith, the Eagles’ receiving corp has vastly improved.

Philadelphia also added linebacker Haason Reddick and cornerback James Bradberry in free agency, and drafted defensive tackle Jordan Davis.

The offseason additions and weapons on offense should provide Jalen Hurts with the opportunity he needs to succeed. All eyes are still on him with questions surrounding his ability to be a long-term solution for the Eagles. But they may have the fire power to be in the running to win the division. Prediction: 10-7

 

 Washington Commanders

Record in 2021: 7-10

Key Player: Quarterback – Carson Wentz

Player to Watch: Running back – Antonio Gibson

The Commanders key point of emphasis during the offseason was finding stability at the quarterback position. They did so by going all in on Carson Wentz via a trade with the Indianapolis Colts. Once they locked in a quarterback, the Commanders cleaned up the offense by re-signing Terry McLaurin, drafting wide receiver Jahan Dotson and shoring up the offensive line.

Prior to the unfortunate shooting that is taking Brian Robinson Jr. out of the lineup for an indefinite amount of time, Antonio Gibson was on the verge of losing the number one running back spot. His job is likely safe for now but he is still an interesting player to watch.

One thing the Commanders seemed to learn during the preseason is how to use Gibson in different ways that play more to his strengths and add another dimension to the offense. Now we will see if the coaching staff capitalizes on what they’ve learned.

There’s still a lot of pieces coming together but if the Commanders can click on all cylinders, they will be competitive within the division. Prediction: 9-8

 

Carita Parks

Washington D.C.

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