NFL: Peter Clarke Previews the NFC East
As we are just under 2 weeks before the season starts, every team has high hopes, and no one has lost a game. Soon that will all change, and everyone will likely overreact to an opening week upset. Before the season starts, everyone will give their predictions for the division winners and each team’s record. So, I might as well enlighten you with my opinions. So, without further ado, let’s get into the NFC East team previews and record predictions.
On offense, this team will look different. They will be without their two longtime targets in WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten. The three O-linemen that have questions about them currently. C Travis Frederick is out indefinitely, RG Zack Martin may miss a week or 2, and LG Connor Williams is a rookie who is struggling. However, the philosophy will remain the same. They will run the ball with RB Ezekiel Elliott and have QB Dak Prescott play off play-action. I don’t think they will be as smooth as previous years.
On defense, I think this team can be very good. You have their DEs Demarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford as good pass rushers. You also have LBs Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, who missed all last year, but I am very high on. With CBs Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie, I expect this unit to keep them in games and be the reason they will have a chance to even be a .500 team in the NFC East. I still don’t think they will be a playoff team this year. They are still in transition and need the offense to step up.
Last Year’s Record: 9-7
Vegas Over/Under: 8.5
My Prediction: 8-8
New York Giants
I think the Giants will be dramatically better on offense. They have a legitimate LT in Nate Solder. They drafted a beast of a G in Will Hernandez. They drafted the best player in the draft in RB Saquan Barkley. And they get one of the top 3 WRs in the league back in Odell Beckham Jr. With the threat of a running game, a better line, and people who can catch the ball, the Giants have the potential to be a top 10 offense. This will not be the side of the ball to worry about for them.
Even though the G-Men have some good pieces on this side of the ball, like OLB Olivier Vernon, S Landon Collins, CB Janoris Jenkins, and NT Damon “Snacks” Harrison, this side of the ball lacks depth and versatility. CB Eli Apple has been awful. They need another CB and S. They also need another pass rusher. This group will look disjointed as time and will have lapses and breakdowns. They can turn it around in a year, but it won’t be this year.
Last Year’s Record: 3-13
Vegas Over/Under: 6.5
My Prediction: 8-8
The Eagles personified the word team last year. Their MVP candidate QB Carson Wentz went down. Their top WR Alshon Jeffery played with a torn rotator cuff. They really didn’t win the game with any stars and it may be even tougher this year. Wentz is likely to return for week 1, but Jeffery may start the year on the PUP list, which means he misses 6 games. RB Jay Ajayi will have to be a workhorse early in the year and who knows if his health will hold up. It’s very hard to repeat in the NFC East let alone NFL.
The defense can really get to the QB. Their D-Line is probably the best, and deepest, in the sport. Between DEs Derek Barnett, Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, Chris Long, and Josh Sweat, to go with their DTs in Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, and Haloti Ngata, they are stacked. Their secondary is young, but they have a lot of talent and potential. Look out for the name CB Sydney Jones. Despite the questions on offense, this team is still ready to make a run again.
Last Year’s Record: 13-3
Vegas Over/Under: 10.5
My Prediction: 11-5
The Redskins offense could look really bad this year. They lost their starting RB in Derrius Guice. Alex Smith will be taking over the offense from Kirk Cousins, who really piled up the stats in this offense. And with a WR group of Jameson Crowder, Paul Richardson, and Josh Doctson, it doesn’t exactly scream pro bowl. Maybe this group can surprise me and everyone else, but my expectations will be low and yours should be too.
The front 7 of the Redskins are something to deal with. Their 2017 and 2018 1st round picks will be next to each other on the D-Line in Johnathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne. Their LB group are 4 of the best in the league with Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Mason Foster, and Zach Brown. Their secondary still has some questions marks, but overall, this side of the ball is their strongest side. They will have to fight to keep the games close and hope the offense can pull a rabbit out of their hat late.
Last Year’s Record: 7-9
Vegas Over/Under: 7.5
My Prediction: 7-9
The NFC East will be an interesting division. Will Dak Prescott take over as the new face of the Dallas Cowboys? Does Eli Manning have anything left in the tank for the NY Giants? Will Carson Wentz take a step back, while trying to recover from the injury that ended his season? Will Alex Smith make the Redskins a better team, even if he has worse numbers? Only 1 way to find out, sit back, relax, and enjoy the games.
How do you see the NFC East? Leave a comment below.
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