NFC East – Bold Predictions. Write these down. You can laugh at me later…
2019 Record: 8-8
America’s team had another ho-hum 8-8 season last year, despite some statistical flexing by Dak Prescott. The quarterback signed the franchise tender back in June for just over $31 million, so to say that the Cowboys need to lock him down next year is an understatement.
A second tag in 2021 would send his franchise cost through the roof (reportedly $37 million-plus), and the primary issue slowing down the negotiations is in fact the duration. Prescott wants a three-to-four-year deal that would allow him to hit the market around his 30th birthday or so. Dallas wants to keep him for five years minimum, taking him towards the likely back end of his prime and potentially making an extension both more likely and affordable.
Bold Prediction: Dak has another great year, and then hits free agency. Nothing about the franchise tag is intended to convey confidence. It’s something of a desperation measure. If Prescott has another career year in 2020 but the Cowboys continue to struggle to stack wins, I expect that Jerry Jones won’t be willing to make Dak one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league. If the Cowboys make a deep playoff run, all bets are off. I just don’t see them winning thirteen games this year.
New York Giants
2019 Record: 4-12
That 4-12 record was the end of the Pat Shurmur era. He’s been replaced by former Patriots wide receivers and special teams coach Joe Judge. What he’s walking into might be less of a quagmire than you’re thinking.
Eli Manning played in only four games in his final season, as Daniel Jones took the reins of Big Blue’s offense. Saquon Barkley remains the engine that will drive this offense going forward. The Giants turned some heads with their draft strategy, picking up two offensive linemen in the first three rounds. Clearly, they want to see exactly how much they can get out of Barkley in an optimal scenario. They also added one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets, multi-purpose back Dion Lewis to the mix.
Bold Prediction: Drafting heavy along the offensive line was a calculated risk, and I can see what they’re trying to do. For Judge’s sake, it had better work. If it does, Saquon Barkley could very well be the league’s rushing champ. He’s been stymied by that mediocre offensive line for his entire career, which has been very impressive thus far. When he starts getting bigger holes to run through, lookout.
2019 Record: 9-7 Division Champs
Despite a shoddy secondary, worse receiving corps and a point differential eighty points worse than the 8-8 Cowboys, this was your 2019 NFC East Champion. They didn’t do anything particularly well last year but finished the regular season with four straight wins to secure the crown. Unfortunately for the rest of the NFC East, the Eagles did something about their two biggest deficiencies.
Bold Prediction: The Eagles repeat, and then some.
I predicted that the Eagles would focus on wide receivers in the draft, and they got a doozy with their first pick, bringing in Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb to become the immediate number one deep threat in the division. They also improved that sub-par secondary, bringing in Stefon Diggs’ little brother Trevon from Alabama. The younger Diggs played both sides of the ball early in Tuscaloosa but became a more solid defender in his later seasons with the Crimson Tide. He’s got plus athleticism and like most elite Alabama defenders, has proven versatile from scheme to scheme. He’ll enable that Eagle defense to show some different looks in the secondary.
All in all, the Eagles made the right moves to stay on top of the division.
Washington Football Team
2019 Record: 3-13
Despite the Bengals finishing with a worse record, this Washington football team was probably the worst overall squad in the league in 2019. They sported the second-worst point differential (-169), won only one home game, and failed to win a single contest in the woeful NFC East, a division that had only one team (Philly) barely above .500 and lost forty games out of a potential sixty-four combined. At least they’re changing the name, but what looms larger is an investigation into the toxic culture amongst the upper echelons of the management of the franchise, which it should be noted, did NOT want to change the name.
Bold Prediction: Daniel Snyder won’t be the owner of the Washington Football Team for very long. I suspect that the name change is an act of contrition for the as yet unseen sins of a franchise that is badly in need of a top-down change. I’m not sure if the league will run him out à la Donald Sterling in the NBA, but if he doesn’t step aside, things might get much more problematic in the nation’s capital. There’s simply too much information coming out about impropriety at the highest levels of management for Snyder himself to escape unscathed.
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Image Source: AP Images