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ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 11: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys attempts a pass against the New York Giants during the second quarter at AT&T Stadium on October 11, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Editorials

2021 NFL NFC East Preview

One division preview down, seven more to go.

Earlier this week, I dipped my toes into the waters of the AFC East and previewed the interesting aspects and little tidbits that exist within the division. But as we know all too well, time won’t stop for anyone. With that in mind, it’s time to move on to another division to dissect.

Today, we’re taking a pretty short trip to the NFC East, where plenty of action is prepared to go down this fall.

Without further ado, let’s jump right into it.

2020 Standings

1. Washington Football Team (7-9)

2. New York Giants (6-10)

3. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)

4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1)

Overview of 2020 for the NFC East

Boy oh boy, where do I even start?

This division was a complete dumpster fire in 2020. Seriously, watching any NFC East team play during their low points at any point during 2020 could’ve been considered cruel and unusual punishment.

Washington had a really good defense, but their quarterback situation was a complete mess. Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, and Alex Smith all started at least one game last season. None of those guys stood out, except for Heinicke who showed out during this team’s playoff loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The New York Giants rode their defense just like Washington, but they were plagued by inconsistency and downright terrible play on offense at crucial times throughout the season.

The Dallas Cowboys were cooking on offense early in the year before star quarterback Dak Prescott was lost for the year due to a gruesome ankle injury. Once that occurred, the ceiling collapsed on top of the Cowboys in terms of injuries, mainly on the defensive side of the ball.

Finally, the Philadelphia Eagles were a dumpster fire in their own right. Carson Wentz was benched after a horrendous first couple of months as the starter. Doug Pederson was fired after an abysmal and embarrassing season that was later capped off by a potential tanking incident during the later portion of the year. Injuries also killed this team on both sides of the ball. Most notably along the offensive line which saw two key starters go down with serious injuries.

2020 made me despise this division from the bottom of my part. Why? Because this division included some of the worst football I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life. I hate watching bad football, it makes me want to punch a wall until my own hands bleed. You want more? These four teams played enough bad football last season to almost kill my enthusiasm for this great game, which is saying something since I’m probably one of the most jacked up football fans you’ll ever meet.

That’s how bad this division was last season.

Onward to 2021……I guess.

Best Offense for 2021

Dallas Cowboys- You can hate, curse, and diss the Cowboys all you want. But one thing you’ll have to admit is that Kellen Moore and Dak Prescott are running one hell of an offensive show in Dallas.

What was lost during the aftermath of Prescott’s heartbreaking lower leg injury, was the fact that he was one of the more explosive quarterbacks in all of football before he suffered his serious leg injury. Prescott threw for just over 1,600 yards in the first four games of the 2020 season, including three games in which he threw for at least 450 yards.

We tend to see early season statistical explosions like these all the time, but this specific one was was full of its own individual specialties. According to stats detailed on 247sports.com, Prescott became the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 450 yards in three straight games.

Not enough history for you?

Prescott also broke Kurt Warner’s record for the most passing yards through the first four games in NFL history. These aren’t just some measly needle in a haystack stats that number crunchers spend hours compiling and reporting on. These are legit individual records that speak volumes about the insane run Prescott was on before he got hurt.

I’m personally excited to watch how Prescott handles his return to the field, especially with his already talented group of pass catchers still mostly intact. The group consisting of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb is one of the best trios of pass catching talent in the entire league. Combine that with a questionable, but still talented Ezekiel Elliott, along with emerging young talent in Tony Pollard, and you end up getting an offense that’s still a complete nightmare for defenses across the league, let alone the NFC East.

One side note here, Kellen Moore has done a terrific job as play caller for this unit. He interviewed for the Eagles’ head coaching vacancy before they settled on Nick Sirianni. If Moore can lead this Cowboys offense to another stellar year, I truly believe he’ll be a serious, scorching hot head coaching candidate if any openings open up next off-season.

Best Defense for 2021

Washington Football Team- Deciding between Ron Rivera’s tough, physical defense and Patrick Graham’s unit in New York was a tough choice. But I really love Washington’s makeup on defense, along with the room it has to improve moving forward.

Last season was a breakout year for Rivera’s defense. The defensive line was the star of the show as Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat, Chase Young, Daron Payne, and Matt Ioannidis combined to wreck opposing offensive lines each and every week it seemed like. You can go as in depth as you want into each of their overwhelming strengths that exist in their game, but the one thing that stands out the most when you discuss those five men is their age.

None of them have hit the age of 28 yet.

That should send shivers down your spine if you’re a fan of a team that resides in the NFC East.

But those five boogeymen along the defensive line aren’t the only threats this defense possesses either. The secondary has its fair share of talent at its disposal as well. Kendall Fuller and William Jackson are two very talented corners that don’t make operating easy for offensive units. Kamren Curl was an absolute stud at the safety position in 2020 too, which might’ve been a surprise at face value considering his status as a 2020 7th round draft pick.

Landon Collins isn’t the best in pass coverage, but his contributions as a run defender can’t be ignored either. I still haven’t even addressed the linebacker group either, which added an athletic freak in Jamin Davis.

I mean this unit is stacked with a boatload of young talent that can fill out your defense for years to come. The only concern I’d have with this defense is that it might be a little too young. But with the way this unit performed last season while relying on the same nucleus of young talent that’s preparing to take a step forward this year, that concern isn’t significant whatsoever.

This unit has a really good chance to ascend into the top echelon of defenses football has to offer. With Ron Rivera leading the pack, I think they’ll eventually get it done.

Best Head Coach for 2021

Ron Rivera- Joe Judge was a strong candidate here. But I’m a big believer in the work Rivera has and will continue to do in Washington.

He took a very young football team and got the very best out of it in 2020. Albeit inconsistency plagued them heavily at times last season, that’ll only continue to lessen as this team as a whole gains more experience moving forward. I’m ready to invest into a lot of Washington Football Team stock for this upcoming grind of a season. Let’s just hope my investment doesn’t blow up in my face.

Potential Breakout Player to Watch for Each Team in 2021

Washington Football Team- RB Antonio Gibson

When he wasn’t fighting through a multitude of nagging injuries, Gibson was one of the best players on Washington’s offense last season.

His toughness and effectiveness in the run game, along with his dependability as a pass catcher late in the year really gave this offense another threat aside from Terry McLaurin, something this unit really needed if they were going to succeed in their late season playoff push.

I think he’ll be more of a focal point in 2021. Which will likely be a very good thing for the outlook of this offense if all things go according to plan.

New York Giants- QB Daniel Jones

I don’t, I really, really, really don’t want to do this.

But the irresistible tug of Jones’ potential keeps bringing me back in. I honestly do not like Daniel Jones. He’s a turnover machine, inaccurate at times, and indecisive way too often for my liking. So if I don’t like him game this much, then why am I logging him down as a breakout candidate?

To simply put it, his supporting cast right now will make it extremely difficult for a player as painfully average as Jones to look poor. I think he’ll have a decent year, but boy it’s just so hard to believe that with full confidence.

Dallas Cowboys- RB Tony Pollard

Move aside Ezekiel Elliott, the Tony Pollard hype train is about to take off from the station and keep chugging until it’s forced to stop.

For the first time since he was drafted by Dallas, Elliott was forced to split a bit of the action with Pollard, specifically in passing situations. If the same situation unfolds again in 2021, hell if Pollard starts to take a large amount of the snaps away from Elliott, then I really think Pollard could turn into a young star.

Philadelphia Eagles- RB Miles Sanders

There isn’t much to be excited about with this Eagles offense. We don’t know what Sirianni is going to bring to the table, Jalen Hurts’ future is a little uncertain, Zach Ertz has a foot out the door, and the offensive line is as injury prone as it can get.

The only certain exciting pieces that exist on this offense is rookie DeVonta Smith…..and Miles Sanders.

If Siranni was smart, which I think he is, then he’ll make it a priority to feed Sanders as much as possible to give this offense the slightest element of danger. I mean what choice does he have right now? Let’s just hope health permits for Sanders since he’s shown to be a little injury prone throughout his young career.

Who Wins the Division in 2021?

This is a toss up.

But in the end I’ll have to choose Washington as my NFC East winner for 2021. Ron Rivera is building something special in the 202. He has so much young talent on both sides of the ball, a system that his guys believe in, and just enough quarterback play to make this offense run much more smoother than it did last year.

I said this before, but give me alllll of the Washington Football Team stock for 2021.

I’m all in.

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