NFC East Predictions and Key Factors to 2021-2022 Season Success
Last year, the NFC East was one of the most exciting divisions in the NFL. None of the four teams reached a .500 winning percentage, allowing the 7-9 Washington Football Team to reach the playoffs. This year, though, the division looks a little more competitive. Each team has made improvements internally (via player development or return from injury) or externally (via player signings, the draft, or trades). Now, with that being said, let’s get into predictions for how the NFC East standings will shake out, as well as one thing to watch for each team.
1) Washington Football Team - Projected Record: 10-7
Last year, the Washington Football Team essentially played quarterback by committee, with Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Alex Smith, and Taylor Heinicke, among others, taking snaps. This year, the two main candidates for the starting job are Ryan Fitzpatrick, the 38-year-old journeyman, and Heinicke, last year’s playoff sensation.
Fitzpatrick is widely seen as the favorite to land the job, as he is perceived to be the safer bet and steadier hand. Fitzpatrick, however, has only had two winning seasons in his career and has never made the playoffs. On the other hand, Heinicke offers more explosive upside with his legs and athleticism, despite having less experience than Fitzpatrick.
At the end of the day, it may come down to whether Washington prefers the higher floor of Ryan Fitzpatrick or the higher ceiling of Heinicke. Regardless, it will be interesting to watch.
2) Dallas Cowboys - Projected Record: 9-8
After a horrific injury derailed Dak Prescott’s hot start to the 2020-2021 season, the quarterback is set to be back under center for the Cowboys this year. With Prescott back in the lineup, as well as a few potential breakout candidates highlighted by wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, the Dallas offense looks to be gearing up for a fierce 2021-2022 campaign.
This explosive offense may not be enough, however. Last season, the Cowboys defense was dreadful; they gave up 34 passing touchdowns (tied for 3rd most), 2,541 rushing yards (2nd most), 20 rushing touchdowns (tied for 7th most), and yielded 5 yards per carrying to opposing runners (3rd most). On top of this, the secondary provided very little in the way of disruption, ending up with only ten interceptions (tied for 5th least). If Dallas wants to profit off of their potent offense, they will need their defense to take a big step forward from last year.
3) New York Giants - Projected Record: 7-10
With Saquon Barkley back and Daniel Jones looking to take a step forward, the most important thing for the Giants is going to be their offensive line. Last season, it was terrible, yielding 50 sacks (tied for 2nd most) and 310 sack yards (6th most).
Jones and Barkley need space to operate to be effective and win games and it is on the Giants’ offensive line to take a giant leap forward and provide that space.
4) Philadelphia Eagles - Projected Record: 4-13
Last season, rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts took over for an inexplicably slumping Carson Wentz and breathed some much-needed life into a dead offense. He did some good things along the way, especially on the ground; he generated 354 rushing yards on 63 attempts and nine total touchdowns (6 passing, 3 rushing).
However, for the Eagles to get any better than they were last year, Hurts has to improve as a passer. Last season, he managed a 52% completion rate, which is unacceptable for a starting quarterback. Hurts was simply off-target on too many throws, which is not a recipe for success. It will be intriguing to see if he has made any strides in these areas.
All stats come via the NFL website.