No team has won successive NFC East titles in 14 years but the Philadelphia Eagles look well set to break that run with the Super Bowl champions a cut above their three rivals.
- Philadelphia Eagles
- New York Giants
- Dallas Cowboys
- Washington Redskins
Last season: 13-3
Coach: Doug Pederson
There’s been no repeat winner of this division since Eagles made it four in a row in 2004 but they’re rightly favoured to break that cycle coming off a Super Bowl victory in February and with the rest of the NFC East playing catch-up.
They’ve got two MVP quarterbacks but that in itself may become an issue. Nick Foles will start the season with Carson Wentz not yet cleared to return, but Wentz is the starter and if he returns in a few weeks then Foles will have to handle being returned to the bench.
How their top stars return from injury could be key – Jason Peters in particular could be a huge bonus as he returns to the offensive line, while the league’s best rush defence has been bolstered by Haloti Ngata and Michael Bennett.
Receiver Alshon Jeffery’s injury is a worry but adding Mike Wallace may help fill any void, but tight end could be a real strength for Philly this year as Zach Ertz has been joined by Dallas Goedert and both could see plenty of action this season.
Beating the well-fancied Falcons first up was the perfect start even if they showed on offence that they could do with Wentz back as soon as possible.
New York Giants
Last season: 3-13
Coach: Pat Shurmur
Odell Beckham has signed a new contract, and rookie rusher Saquon Barkley already looks like a star of the future, but new head coach Pat Shurmur will have the biggest say on how this team performs.
He was Assistant Coach of the Year at Minnesota last year but had a tough time as head coach of Cleveland so turning things around in the Big Apple is a huge test for him.
Beckham and Barkley will help, as will Eli Manning’s experience, and along with the emergence of tight end Evan Engram they have enough offensive weapons to be a nuisance in the traditionally tight divisional tussles.
Defence is always key and new coordinator James Bettcher earned rave reviews in that role in Arizona and will hope to lead an improved outfit that has seen a raft of new additions over the summer.
Last season: 9-7
Coach: Jason Garrett
Star running back Ezekiel Elliott was the subject of a suspension saga last season that really hampered the Cowboys but a full season with their main man, who tallied 1,631 yards in his rookie year, will make them competitive at the very least.
There are doubts around their famed offensive line while the possibly de-stabilizing effect of an unhappy Dez Bryant won’t be there, and that could be a blessing in disguise for young QB Dak Prescott – who now has former Jaguars man Allen Hurns and the speedy Tavon Austin as receiving options.
Prescott and Elliott will carry this team as far as they can go, but in a tough division and with question marks elsewhere it seems impossible to challenge Philly and could be tough to battle it out for a wild card given the strength elsewhere in the NFC.
Last season: 7-9
Coach: Jay Gruden
Washington suffered a huge blow over the summer when their top draft pick Derrius Guice was ruled out for the season after the running back tore his ACL in pre-season. The legendary Adrian Peterson now has the chance to prove he’s still got it as he enters the twilight of his career.
Alex Smith was brought in to replace Kirk Cousins but problems elsewhere mean that even he may struggle to be his usual consistent self, while the defence was one of the worst around last year and needs a huge upturn to give them a base to build on.
There are just too many question marks around Washington to even think they can make a run at a wild card let alone a divisional title.
The Philadelphia Eagles are far too strong for the rest of a division where the other three teams are still trying to work out where they're going and how they’re going to try and dethrone the champs. That means we'll see a first successful NFC East title defence since 2004 when Philly made it four in a row and they could be at the start of another dominant streak.
It's a serious conundrum working out the rest of the pack and you can make cases for all of the rest finishing second but preference is just going with the Giants thanks to have the best receiver in the division in Odell Beckham to go along with exciting rookie Saquon Barkley in the best balanced attack of the rest.
Dallas have big questions to answer over their usually fearsome offensive line but a full season of Ezekiel Elliott will win them enough games to grab third in front of Washington who look set for another so-so season after losing their top draft pick in the pre-season.