There’s a target on the back of this division, so prepare for the NFC East to fall back to Earth. Will a new team conquer things? It comes down to the quarterbacks.
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Onto the NFC to determine who will be the cream of the crop this season. After breaking down each division in the AFC and finding so much expected bunching and balance, we will find a stark contrast to start the opposite conference. The NFC East might be the most prototypically tiered division breakdown in all of football. According to the odds, each team is clearly slotted into its finishing point unless something wild happens. Something wild usually happens.
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The Philadelphia Eagles were the best team in the conference last year and obviously won the division. They are comfortable favorites to repeat, being given minus odds to finish first. The Dallas Cowboys were a solid playoff team last year, finishing second. They are heavily favored to finish second again. The New York Giants were a surprise last year, finishing above .500 and slotting third in the East. They are expected to slot in third once again, comfortably behind the previous two teams and comfortably ahead of Washington. The Commanders finished last, albeit at a punchy 8-8-1, and are expected to finish last again, likely with a worse record. When a division appears so blatantly obvious, we know something is wrong. This is NOT how things will turn out in the NFC East. Expect the unexpected.
Who Wins The NFC East?
Todd Salem: Eagles Still Fly Highest
Taking the division as a whole, it is hard to find fault in that breakdown happening again. That seems like the obvious outcome. Yet, the NFL is never obvious, and I see one spot where real life could vary. The most notable spot for potential swings, to me, is in New York. I could see New York continue its triumphant progress and jump to a narrow first-place finish ahead of everyone else; I could also reasonably see the Giants drop to last place. After all, they barely edged out Washington in 2022.
The variation comes from the unknown on the Giants. The quarterback is sometimes great and always unpredictable. Is Daniel Jones really one of the best QB assets with his legs in the game, or was that just what defenses were giving him? Is this eclectic group of pass catchers, led by Darren Waller, a unit no one wants to face, or is no one afraid because there is no number one guy? Are Andrew Thomas and the young guys one of the best up-and-coming o-lines in the sport, or is Thomas the lone game-changer? The defense projects as average or worse but has a number of impactful players.
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I think I’m leaning more negatively with all the Giants questions. I’m not quite a Jones believer, nor an o-line or receiving corps believer. And I think the defense is clearly the worst in the division.
Philadelphia is still on top here unless something catastrophic happens. They have too much talent remaining on both sides of the ball: the best offensive line, perhaps in the entire league, elite pass catchers, a versatile group of backs, an MVP contender at quarterback, blue chippers at all three levels of the defense. The Eagles won the East by two games last year. I think all three other teams in the division take a step back and the gap is larger in 2023.
Dallas still finishes second, almost by default. The offense has a new coordinator (like Philadelphia) but has too many Pro Bowl-caliber players to make me think it will suffer from it (like Philadelphia). The defense should be elite as well (like Philadelphia). The Cowboys simply remain a step behind Philly in nearly every department. They aren’t large steps, but they all add up.
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New York has the pieces to make strides, but I actually think last year was an overachievement, and the Giants could fall behind Washington. The Commanders may have the best defensive front in the league. If the young secondary develops, they could be right up there with the aforementioned Philadelphia and Dallas overall.
Meanwhile, the offense has a ton of playmakers and a potentially solid offensive line surrounding Sam Howell. If Washington can turn Howell into a dual threat in some type of option offense, I think they can surprise people. It seems like Washington has a better team than New York everywhere except quarterback. Is Jones enough of an upgrade over Howell to impact the standings? Some may say yes; I say no.
4) New York
Dan Salem: Cowboys Rise To The Top
My instincts are funny with regard to the NFC East. I inherently want to agree with you, yet I somehow know better. Washington is not going to be very good this season and has every reason to finish poorly, get a high draft pick, and soft reset under new ownership. The Eagles are likely to take a step back as well, since they overachieved last year and will be surprising no one this season. Plus, they lost a huge chunk of their coaching staff, which is always an adjustment.
I’m not a fan of Dallas, but they are on this plateau and seem to be a guarantee for nine to eleven wins no matter what. The enigma is New York, who completely overachieved last season, but has retained nearly everything that made them successful a season ago. Will all four NFC East starting quarterbacks get better? That is the only thing that matters in this division for success, because all else more or less remains equal.
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Jalen Hurts will remain excellent, but I don’t see him getting better. This means one to three fewer wins for the Eagles. Dak Prescott is going to be better, because he was injured throughout last season. This means the Cowboys remain on their plateau and keep things going as a ten win team, more or less. Daniel Jones has the potential to be even better. This is year two for him in this Giants’ offense that continues to mold itself around his strengths. Saquon Barkley must remain elite for New York and Jones to succeed, which is no sure thing. Howell will improve in Washington, but I don’t think it matters very much, because there’s simply too much turmoil going on in the organization.
Have I taken the long road towards stating that the NFC East will look much the same as last year? Yes and no. This is not nearly as dominant or competitive a division in 2023. They should get beaten up more by the rest of the league and won’t be surprising anyone in terms of their strengths. I can see two playoff teams from the East, only because the remainder of the NFC somehow looks worse for wear. New York may even sneak in once again, but nothing on paper speaks to it. I’m ranking this division based on how I view its quarterback play. Prepare for lots of Cowboys noise, only for it to be silenced immediately in the playoffs.
3) New York
Meet our Writers:
Dan Salem is Lead Editor, Writer, and Co-owner of BuzzChomp. He’s a published author, as well as an award winning Actor, Director and Producer. Visit M Square Productions for his film work, or get lost in his old-school comedy on Pillow Talk TV. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Todd Salem is a Staff Writer and Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also a fantasy football and fantasy baseball Staff Writer for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter or comment below for his unfiltered opinions.
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