So, how does the NFC East shape up? Let me take a shot at it:
1. New York Giants (projected first place) - Yes, I predict that the Giants will win the division this year, simply because they have retooled nicely. The defense looks better and more promising, and the new, more wide open offensive scheme could, and should, help Eli Manning to perform more efficiently. Also it helps that this division is not exactly the strongest in the league at the moment. The Eagles made some improvements and are a force to be reckoned with, true. But my suspicions are that Dallas is weak and vulnerable, and I believe that Washington is, too. That helps. With that, I expect the Giants to return to form after two subpar years. They also had a pretty good preseason, although I know that does not count for anything once the season begins. The question is whether or not they can beat out Philadelphia for the division title, and maybe it's because I am a Giants fan, but I will go ahead and predict that they will. There are points of concern, particularly with all of the holes in the offensive line right now. But I expect that they will be able to address that in time, and be competitive. A division championship should be in order for the G-Men, at least. They weren't Super Bowl champions two years ago for nothing!
2. Philadelphia Eagles (projected second place) - Chip Kelly was like a breath of fresh air for the Eagles, and they took that through a bumpy ride all season, to eventually win the division title. They were not quite there to win a playoff contest, but the improvements speak volumes about how much better the Eagles are right now. And this season, I expect them to be better, since they have had time to gel. I predicted the Giants to win the division, but if New York slips, even a little, Philadelphia will step in in a big way and take this division again! Their defense improved a bit, but it was really with the offense that Philadelphia came alive last year! And they seemed to have found their man at quarterback, as Nick Foles came into his own, playing like a seasoned veteran. Teams have traditionally had a difficult time repeating as division champs in the NFC East specifically in recent years, but the Eagles have a real shot, and in any case, are a legitimate playoff contender, division title or not!
3. Washington (projected third place) - They just rely too heavily on RG3, and while that could work wonders for them if all works out great, as it did two seasons ago, it is also too easy seeing it backfire against them, if he gets injured. He plays a style where he is highly susceptible to injuries, and probably should use his throwing arm more, and run at least a little less. No denying the talent level there, but what good is he going to do for the team if he is sidelined? They obviously relied far too heavily on him offensively last year, and that was probably the reason that they were not as effective as in 2012. But more of a concern was the defense, which ranked quite near the bottom of the league last season. They allowed 30 points or more seven times in the sixteen game season, and allowed 40 or more three times! Those are numbers that simply have to improve if Washington wants to be a contender once again in 2014, and that is true regardless of whether RG3 stays healthy or not! Frankly, I just see too many question marks, and too many holes, for this team to seriously be competitive. But I think there will be improvements for them this season, and so that is why I have them in third, and not last place.
4. Dallas Cowboys (projected last place) - Yes, last place. I know, they have been right in the hunt for the division title, and the playoffs, each of the last few years, only losing it right in the final game. And unlike many haters, I think Tony Romo is a good quarterback, and that many of the mistakes that people blame him for are not actually his fault. Dallas has talent, obviously. They have some offensive explosiveness, and you can bet that they are going to score points. But the defense was terrible last year, and I don't think that they look too good heading into this year, either. Also, this year more than others, it seems the Cowboys more or less stayed put, and did not make any major moves to try and improve in the offseason, like they have in years past. There is talent there, but I think other teams will catch on more this seasons than in the past. The 'Boys just have some tough teams on their schedule, too many for them to overcome, and I expect that this year, they sink surprisingly low, all the way to the bottom of the division. Which may be good in a way, if it triggers some moves in the offseason to build towards being a true contender, instead of the team that almost qualifies, but rarely has in recent seasons.