Each week, Rishi Pochiraju will predict the placement of teams in an NFL division. Up today: NFC East, the final division prediction. See his page for other predictions.
The NFC East was formerly known as the toughest division in football for quite a while. Now, experts cite the toughest as the NFC West. Despite that, the East is one of the most competitive in the league. We’ll see how the division plays out this year, as each team has its fair share of flaws (and misfortunes, especially injuries).
This division is up for grabs – any team can win, and the division can end up in any order. But I believe wisdom, experience, and establishment will trump all in the division this year and end up on top. Therefore, without further ado…
1st Place: New York Giants
New York had its share of misfortunes last year from multiple injuries in the secondary, on the offensive line, and at running back. However, I expect them to take the division crown in 2013 – the dynamic duo of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz is back, and David Wilson and Andre Brown present a quality dual-threat at running back.
Tom Coughlin is arguably the best coach in the league. The man simply knows what he’s doing. After missing the playoffs last year, I expect them to turn it around this year. It seems like every time that this team is on the brink of possible failure, they turn it around into something extraordinary (see: 2007 and 2011 Giants teams).
Although there are questions at linebacker and in the secondary, the (new) front four should still be able to generate a pass rush. New York was the only division opponent who defeated last year’s champion Redskins (won the home game). Coughlin’s wisdom, Eli Manning’s experience and unflappable demeanor, and the return of stars on offense and defense should propel New York to a division crown.
2nd Place: Washington Redskins
I am a resident of Ashburn, VA, and simply, the ‘Skins are my team. But I don’t believe they will repeat as the division champion – too much weight is placed upon the shoulders of returning star quarterback Robert Griffin III. The season could come down to whether he’s healthy or not. Kirk Cousins is a viable replacement, but Griffin is too valuable to the team.
Despite that, Washington is perhaps the best offensively balanced team in the division, and maybe the league. Alfred Morris’s 2012 year wasn’t a fluke – I believe he can still be a 1300-and-above back even with Kirk Cousins under center. The team has a more difficult schedule than last year – Shanahan(s) and company face the division winners from last year in the NFC (Atlanta and San Francisco) and play the entire NFC North.
This team can still be a wild card team, perhaps featuring a 10-6 regular season win-loss record, but I don’t believe they’ll repeat as division champions.
3rd Place: Dallas Cowboys
Last year, Dallas’s season came down to one game. Alfred Morris horribly embarrassed them in a 10-point Redskins win. This season, don’t expect more of the same – the team can easily win 10 games. But in a division like this one, 10 wins may not be enough.
The Cowboys have questions at running back (can DeMarco Murray stay healthy), and the secondary had issues last year. Head Coach Jason Garrett’s role is unclear now, as he’s been replaced as the offensive play caller. Dallas does have playmakers on offense including Tony Romo (who I believe is terribly underrated), Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten, but the continuity may be lacking.
The two main units will need all the coaching staff has to complete a winning season for the first time since 2009.
4th Place: Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia is the mystery team in this division. Putting them at this spot in the division is the only place where I could possibly do so because we know so little about them. Chip Kelly’s new offense will most likely be kept under wraps until Week 1 on Monday night against Washington, but we’re all expecting a fast-paced system.
There are questions at quarterback – nobody knows who will start yet – will it be Nick Foles or Michael Vick? Will Matt Barkley see the field this year? This could possibly create a controversy in the season if the starter doesn’t produce well. Philly also lost one of its starting receivers, Jeremy Maclin, for the entire season due to a torn ACL, which will make the job of whoever’s starting tougher.
I cannot put a number on how many wins Chip Kelly tallies up in his first year – the Eagles are too much of a mystery to do so. There are many questions other than the quarterback, such as the secondary and the offensive line. Because of the holes and lack of chemistry in a new group, Philly finishes last again in the division.
Tags: 49ers Alfred Morris Andre Brown Atlanta Falcons Chip Kelly Cowboys Dallas Cowboys David Wilson DeMarco Murray Dez Bryant Eagles Eli Manning Falcons FanSided Fansidednfl Giants Hakeem Nicks Jason Garrett Jason Witten Jeremy Maclin Matt Barkley Michael Vick Mike Shanahan Miles Austin Monday Night Football New York Giants NFC East Nfc East Predictions NFL Nick Foles Philadelphia Eagles Redskins Rg3 RGIII Robert Griffin Iii San Francisco 49ers Tom Coughlin Tony Romo Victor Cruz Washington Redskins