For years the NFC East was the glamour division of the NFL. All four teams were competitive and always had intense matchups.
In recent years the NFC West has taken over as the best division in football, but as far as the most intriguing division goes, the NFC East is still up there.
Last year - Cowboys and Eagles
In 2014, the division was a two-team race throughout the season between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles. Dallas won the division with a record of 12-4 and won a playoff game for just the second time in the Romo era.
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Dallas prevailed despite having a below-average defense. The Cowboys were able to hide their bad defense with possession football. Behind the best offensive line in the NFL DeMarco Murray ran the Cowboys to the playoffs, leading the league in rushing, accumulating 1,845 yards. Romo also had his best season yet as a result of having the least amount of pressure that he has ever had on him.
Philadelphia looked as if they were poised to win the division for the second straight year under Chip Kelly. Nick Foles suffered a season-ending injury when the Eagles were 6-2, but Mark Sanchez managed to play superb in the immediate aftermath of the injury.
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In a Thanksgiving showdown in Dallas, Texas, Sanchez and company embarrassed the Cowboys 31-10 and took control of the division lead. Philly stood atop the East at 9-3, but won only one game the rest of the season to finish second in the division with 10-6 losses. Sanchez led the collapse as he showed who he really is, a great back up.
The Giants finished third with a disappointing record of 6- 10. As far as statistics goes, Eli Manning had his best season yet with QBR of 70.9. He threw his second highest amount of touchdowns of his career, 30, but still had turnover issues. Manning had 21 total turnovers, 14 interceptions and 7 fumbles, and it is almost impossible to win in the NFL turning the ball over.
Last season the Giants were immune to having success running the football. Andre Williams, former Heisman candidate from Boston College, took over for an injured Rashard Jennings and failed to keep the Giants offensive attack balanced. New York was 23rd in the league in rushing averaging a pedestrian 3.6 yards per carry.
Washington finished last in the division for the second straight season winning only 4 wins. In Jay Gruden's first season in charge the Redskins faced the same issues they faced with Mike Shannahan. Robert Griffin III is a shell of what he was his rookie season. After he suffering another brutal ACL injury against Seattle, the Redskins plummeted.
Defensively, Washington simply does not have enough talent in their secondary to be respectable, but on the offensive side of the ball, they’re loaded. Desean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Andre Roberts make for one of the most explosive and talented receiving cores in the NFL. Alfred Morris is a proven running back, and Jordan Reed is extremely dynamic as a tight end. All that said a franchise goes as their quarterback goes and RGIII has, unfortunately, gone down.
Washington Stays At the Bottom
The Redskins would finish last in the division for the third straight season. Washington has taken a much different approach this offseason to what the team has consistently done under owner Dan Snyder.
They are usually making the big splash signing, such as Albert Haynesworth, but it looks as if they have been burned too many times to repeat the process. They have been very quiet thus far, which is a good sign for the franchise. Washington understands Free Agency is dangerous to rely on and they look as if they are prepared to build through the draft.
Although Washington has stayed away from the big names, they have signed some players who will add depth to their team. The Redskins signed former 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver and former Seahawks safety Jeron Johnson to improve a pathetic secondary. They have also added big bodies to their line to improve their run defense, Stephen Paea, from the Bears and Terrance Knighton-Pot Rost- from Denver.
Defensively, the Redskins will be improved but without a quarterback their chances are slim.
Dallas Has Gotten Significantly Worse
Astonishingly enough, the reigning NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys would finish third if the season were to start tomorrow. Dallas got significantly worse after they lost DeMarco Murray to their division foes, Philadelphia. Cowboys’ fans will go out on the limb and say “Murray was a product of our great o-line” but that is foolish and wishful thinking Dallas.
Yes, the Cowboys do have the best offensive line, yes they helped Murray have his best season as a pro, but Murray was proven before this great offensive line. His only problem was his inability to stay healthy, but last season he dispelled those worries; for now at least.
No offensive line is completely responsible for over 1800 yards, and the Cowboys organization know that, otherwise they wouldn’t have given him the rock 392 times. Rumors are Dallas may still be in the running to acquire Adrian Peterson, and if that is true all bets are off, but as of now they have replaced the league leading rusher with Darren McFadden. If Dallas fans were worried about Murray staying healthy, they have a whole other injury beast in McFadden.
With a running game that will not be nearly as productive, Romo will have to throw the ball the majority of the time again. Not only will that increase the possibility of turnovers, but also it will expose their appalling defense because Dallas will not control time of possession as they did in 2014.
The Giants Will Be Competitive Again
In a surprise to many, the Giants would finish second. New York has wide receiver Odell Beckham Jnr who last season had one of the all time great rookie seasons. Despite missing four games, Beckham managed to haul in 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns - simply amazing.
The G-men have also signed a very versatile running back in Shane Vereen from the Patriots. Vereen is excellent at catching the ball out of the backfield, and pairing that along with Rashard Jennings, who had success last season when healthy, can be extremely explosive.
Eli is going to throw interceptions, it is who he is, but, if he can play up to what he is capable of, the Giants have the potential to have one of the best offenses in the NFL. Defense was an issue last season, but they did show glimpses of ability, and they do not lack talent on that side of the ball.
New Look Eagles Poised to Regain Division Supremacy
After an offseason where Chip Kelly has been both ridiculed and praised for completely remodeling the franchise, the Philadelphia Eagles would win the NFC East. In a surprising move to sign DeMarco Murray, the Eagles instantly became favorites for two reasons. For one, they signed Murray after they signed Ryan Mathews, who with Darren Sproles is the best backfield in the NFL on paper. They also made their most hated rivals worse.
Chip also traded Nick Foles to the Rams for Sam Bradford taking a huge risk on an elite talent who is unfortunately constantly injured. It was a trade that had Eagles fans fantasizing for a way to trade Bradford to acquire Oregon Quarterback Marcus Mariota, because no one could understand why Chip wanted Bradford to be his guy.
People fail to realize that if Bradford is protected well he can pick a defense apart with his deadly accuracy. He can make every throw in the NFL. Philadelphia had the best-ranked offensive line in 2013 and the second best in 2014.
Also, Murray and Bradford played together at Oklahoma in a fast-paced offense. The cohesiveness that those two players will have, along with their experience in playing fast, will be hard to stop.
Yes, Philly lost Jeremy Maclin to the Chiefs, but the notion that the Eagles don’t have offensive weapons is laughable. Jordan Matthews had a great rookie season and will now have an even bigger role. A player whom the average fan is not familiar with is Josh Huff.
The Eagles are high on Huff, who has a similar playing style to Wes Welker, but is more explosive. Philly also has an emerging star tight end in Zach Ertz to go along with possibly the best receiving back in the NFL in Darren Sproles.
NFC East Will Be Better
These predictions mean nothing, the draft is yet to come and all four of these teams are far from done as it pertains to improving their teams; but as it stands there will be a new division champ. Regardless of who wins the division; look for the NFC East to be more competitive in 2015.
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