The NFC East has been a notoriously weak division in recent years, as both the New York Giants and Washington Redskins have battled immense dysfunction the past few seasons.
While ownership has continually let down the Redskins organization, it’s Giants general manager Dave Gettleman who has been the driving force of the team’s underachievement.
These two franchises feature new head coaches in 2020, but time will tell as to whether or not either team can compete for a playoff spot this season. They are both major longshots to win the division, as the Giants are +1050, while the Skins are +1400.
Double-digit losses remain on the horizon for both ballclubs, as a compromised offseason program will severely hinder each coach’s ability to properly implement their new systems.
Meanwhile, the class of the NFC East currently resides in Philadelphia, as the Eagles are the reigning division champions. However, in the eyes of Vegas, the Eagles are not favored to defend their division crown, as an exciting offseason from Jerry Jones and company has made the Cowboys the odds-on favorites this season.
The NFC East figures to be an incredibly competitive divisional race in 2020, so long as both teams can stay healthy.
Fly Eagles Fly
Coming off one of the most injury-plagued seasons in recent memory, the Eagles still found a way to reach the postseason last winter. Quarterback Carson Wentz had one of, if not the weakest receiving corps in football, as he heavily relied on his two tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.
Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman recognized this glaring weakness during the offseason and fortified the unit immensely, drafting first-round rookie receiver Jalen Reagor to go along with a pair of other late-round picks.
Reagor is a big play waiting to happen — something the Eagles sorely missed last season on offense. If veteran Alshon Jeffery can stay on the field, you can anticipate a vastly improved Philadelphia passing game in 2020.
On the other hand, the Eagles defense saw major improvements as well — adding All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay Jr. via trade, and cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman via free agency. With a secondary that struggled mightily last year, the Eagles did an outstanding job of targeting positions of weakness this offseason.
A healthy Wentz can take this team to the promised land in 2020, as an NFC East title appears to be on the horizon for Doug Pederson’s ballclub.
New Beginning In Big D
After another disappointing season in 2019, owner Jerry Jones decided to move on from former head coach Jason Garrett.
Insert Mike McCarthy, as his pedigree as a Super Bowl champion and quarterback guru inspired Jones’ decision to hire the 56-year-old head coach back in February.
In a make-or-break year for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, McCarthy must get the most out of the young quarterback, while contract negotiations between Prescott and the team have suddenly reached an impasse.
Prescott has no excuses in 2020, as rookie first-rounder CeeDee Lamb will provide this Dallas offense with one of the most stacked receiver rooms in football. Lamb figures to work predominantly out of the slot this season — next to All-Pro Amari Cooper and emerging star Michael Gallup.
This offense is loaded from top to bottom, as running back Ezekiel Elliott will have more room to operate this season with the firepower on the outside and the continued solidity of the offensive line.
For this Dallas team, the problem resides on the defensive side of the football. There are a host of question marks both in the secondary and on the defensive line, as the departures of two Pro Bowlers, Byron Jones and Robert Quinn, will leave gaping holes in defensive coordinator Kris Richard’s defense.
The Cowboys did the best they could to address the interior defensive line with the signing of Gerald McCoy, but it remains to be seen whether the team can get consistent pressure on the quarterback in 2020.
Second-round cornerback Trevon Diggs figures to be a day one starter for Richard’s group, and he will likely line up opposite the 25-year-old Chidobe Awuzie.
On paper, this team should be one of the best in the business, but it’s hard to trust a franchise that has underachieved time and time again, as talent has never been the issue for Jones’ Cowboys.
I still anticipate Dallas to be right in the thick of things come December, but, due to an overall lack of trust with the organization, compounded with the inconsistencies across the defense, I do not believe they will outduel Philadelphia in the meager NFC East.
New head coach Ron Rivera will have his hands full rebuilding the Redskins’ roster, as owner Dan Snyder has driven this franchise into the ground the past decade.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel for Rivera and the Redskins, as second overall pick Chase Young was touted as an absolute can’t-miss prospect at defensive end. He will join an already solid defensive line, which will make the Redskins a handful to line up against every week.
Rivera has always been a defensive-minded coach, so it’s safe to assume that this Washington defense will be able to keep games close this season.
Meanwhile, second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins will be under the microscope in 2020, as an up-and-down rookie season left Redskins fans wavering. If Haskins can take the next step, then Washington will be a candidate for the surprise team of the NFC.
Hopefully, young running back Derrius Guice can finally be healthy this season. Second-year receiver Terry McLaurin will continue to build on a fantastic rookie campaign, as he emerged as a potential future Pro Bowler at wideout.
The pieces are in place for Rivera, but it will likely take time before we see tangible progress out of this young group. In what is now a loaded NFC playoff picture, the Redskins have no business competing for a Wild Card spot in 2020. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be a competitive, feisty football team all year long.
Although double-digit losses loom in D.C., the Redskins seem to finally be turning the corner in what has been a brutal stretch for the franchise.
Long Year for Judge, Giants
Lastly, the Giants moved on from head coach Pat Shurmur this offseason, as he was unable to handle the New York media during his time with the organization.
An out-of-nowhere hiring saw Joe Judge become the new face of the franchise, as Judge comes from a rigid New England system where he learned under one of the greatest minds in football — Bill Belichick.
Judge inspired many during his introductory press conference, as his charisma and energy ignited a fanbase desperate for positivity. It has been an uneven last few years in East Rutherford, as the Giants haven’t won a playoff game since their Super Bowl win over New England back in 2012.
Unfortunately for Judge, this roster is in dire need of resurrection. The defense was an abject disaster last season, while the offense struggled to stay on the field in key situations.
Turnovers plagued the Giants offense, as rookie quarterback Daniel Jones turned the ball over 18 times (12 interceptions and six fumbles) in 13 games.
However, Jones did show promise during his rookie season, throwing for over 3,000 yards and 24 touchdowns. He and running back Saquon Barkley received a much-needed upgrade on the offensive line, as general manager Dave Gettleman drafted offensive tackle Andrew Thomas fourth overall in this year’s draft.
The Giants then shelled out big money to free agents Jake Ryan and James Bradberry, hoping they could help fortify a defense that gave up the third-most yards in football last season. Moreover, second-round rookie Xavier McKinney will help solidify the back end of the defense, as his prowess as a ball-hawking safety will keep quarterbacks honest in 2020.
All in all, however, I don’t see the Giants being all that competitive this season, as this may signal the end of Gettleman’s tenure as general manager in New York.
- Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6
- Dallas Cowboys: 9-7
- Washington Redskins: 5-11
- New York Giants: 4-12
I believe the Eagles will emerge as NFC East champs this season, although the Cowboys will have every opportunity to dethrone the reigning division winners. While Dallas will certainly compete for a Wild Card spot, it is hard to imagine either the Redskins or the Giants having any real impact on the playoff picture in 2020.