Handicapping The NFC East Post-Draft
The discrepancy between a division winner and fourth place finisher can be so small that one offseason move (or lack of one) can prove to be the downfall or the beginning of a spiral back up to the top for any team.
You can’t win a Super Bowl in April, May, June or July, but you sure can lose one in those months. And that’s what 32 teams in the NFL are trying to avoid, especially in a wide-open division such as the NFC East.
A year ago, the Philadelphia Eagles came out of left field to win the division title. Sure, they had the talent in place, but it was the work that rookie head coach Chip Kelly and, at the time, second-year QB Nick Foles did in the offseason that won them that division crown.
Yes, they still had to win the 10 games that they won during the regular season, but without the preparation in the offseason, the Eagles could’ve just as easily finished at 6-10 instead of 10-6.
And with about half of the 2014 offseason in the books, let’s handicap the NFC East.
Key Additions: Scott Linehan (assistant coach), Henry Melton (free agency), Zach Martin (draft)
Key Losses: DeMarcus Ware (released), Sean Lee (injury)
The Cowboys will win the NFC East if: Jason Garrett miraculously becomes a competent head coach. It’s no secret that Dallas has talent. They’re a talented team that just always fails to reach their potential … every year.
They’re also one of those teams that loses games that they have no business losing and win games they have no business winning. Unfortunately, when they have to win, they always seem to fall short. I’ll put that on the coaching staff, and unless that suddenly changes, expect more of the same for the Cowboys this season.
Perhaps another 8-8 season is on the way in Big D?
Odds of winning division: 19 percent
Key Additions: Jordan Matthews (draft), Mark Sanchez (free agency), Darren Sproles (trade), Malcolm Jenkins (free agency)
Key Losses: DeSean Jackson (released)
The Eagles will win the NFC East if: their third-year quarterback can continue to play consistently and their second-year coach can get their defense in order.
The Eagles defense could end up being the rise or fall for Philly this season. They kind of lucked out last season when RGIII and Eli Manning had tough years within the division. I highly doubt that we’re going to see that for the second straight year. We know what we’re going to get from the Eagles offense; their defense, on the other hand, that’s an entirely different story. With that said, they’re still the defending champs.
Odds of winning division: 38 percent
New York Giants
Key Additions: Josh Freeman (free agency), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (free agency), Rashad Jennings (free agency),
Key Losses: David Diehl (retired), David Baas (released)
The Giants will win the NFC East if: they dominate with their defense. I think it’s safe to say that Manning’s best years are behind him. If New York has any chance at returning to the Super Bowl again, or even the playoffs, they’re going to have to be dictated by their defense: sacks, turnovers, scores, etc.
Odds of winning division: 21 percent
Key Additions: Ryan Clark (free agency), DeSean Jackson (free agency)
Key Losses: Adam Carriker (released)
The Redskins will win the NFC East if: Robert Griffin III can remain healthy and get back to the way be played at the beginning of his rookie season. Let’s hope that the sophomore slump is a real thing and we get to see the real RGIII this season.
Odds of winning division: 22 percent