The NFC East has often been considered one of the best divisions in the NFL, but that isn’t likely to be the case in 2014. A year after only one of the four teams finished with a winning record, one team stands out as the clear-cut favorite to get a top four seed in the playoffs, and every club has questions that need to be answered.
The Philadelphia Eagles have the best betting odds, according to sportsbook.ag, of finishing in first place and reaching the postseason. As they defend their NFC title, Chip Kelly’s squad will look to hold off three teams with embattled quarterbacks who, for different reasons, have something to prove.
Will the upcoming season play out like 2013 or will one team surprise the rest of the division? Below look is a look at every team in the NFC East and where they might end up at the end of the 2014 NFL season.
Philadelphia Eagles (-120)
As the only NFC East team to finish above .500 in 2013, the Eagles are heavy favorites to win the division for a second straight season. They went 10-6 last year and were defeated by the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the playoffs.
At running back, the Eagles might have the best player in the division. LeSean McCoy totaled 1,607 rushing yards last season, and is one of the best pass-catching running backs in the NFL. Much of the fate of the offense rests on the shoulders of Nick Foles, who’s coming off a season that saw him throw 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions. It will be difficult for him to repeat his production from last year, as he’s already thrown three interceptions in the preseason. He also lost his top target in DeSean Jackson, who will now suit up for the Redskins.
The Eagles have a chance to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender, but the team must improve on defense. No one allowed more passing yards in 2013, and Philadelphia hopes adding safety Malcolm Jenkins will be the start of bringing the unit back to respectability.
New York Giants (+440)
After winning their second Super Bowl in five seasons, the Giants have missed the playoffs in two straight years. In 2013, they went 7-9, finishing with a losing record for the first time since 2004.
New York has a lot of questions on offense. With one preseason game left, the team has already lost running back David Wilson for the year, and offensive guard Geoff Schwartz could be gone for at least half of the season. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks went to the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent and rookie Odell Beckham Jr. has been battling hamstring issues. Eli Manning is coming off the worst season of his career, and he's had a few poor exhibition performances.
The Giants had a top 10 passing defense last year, and the secondary will likely be even better in 2014. The team added Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond. Their pass rush did struggle for much of the year, and Justin Tuck’s departure to the Oakland Raider won’t help in that department.
Washington Redskins (+440)
The Redskins were one of the most disappointing teams in 2013, finishing with the NFC’s worst record a year after winning the division. They went 3-13, recording their lowest win total in 19 years.
Robert Griffin III began the season as the starting quarterback, after undergoing ACL surgery, but he wasn’t the same player that led his team to the playoffs as a rookie. Under new head coach Jay Gruden, Griffin is hoping to bounce-back, now that he appears to be completely healthy. He’s struggled in the preseason, leading some to question whether or not Kirk Cousins should get consideration as the starter. No matter who’s at quarterback, the team has a top rusher in Alfred Morris, who’s totaled nearly 2,900 yards on the ground in his first two NFL seasons.
Washington was about as bad defensively as any team in 2013, allowing 29.9 points per game. However, the unit has looked improved in preseason, having added Jason Hatcher and Ryan Clark.
Dallas Cowboys (+600)
The 2013 season was just like other recent seasons for the Cowboys. With a chance to makes the playoffs in the final week, Dallas failed to get a win and finished out of the postseason at 8-8.
Unsurprisingly, Tony Romo is at the center of the team’s quest to be a top team in the NFC. He will almost undoubtedly put up impressive numbers, like he did in 2013 with 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but he’s had difficulty translating those statistics into wins. In 2014, he’s coming off back surgery, and the injury might be affecting his ability to make certain throws. With Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray returning, he’ll be working with most of the same weapons that gave Dallas a top 5 scoring offense last season.
Like most of the NFC East, the Cowboys need to improve mightily on defense. The team ranked last in the NFL last year, allowing 415 yards per game. While it will be hard for the unit to be even worse in 2014, losing DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher won’t help.
2014 NFC East Prediction
New York 9-7