The NFC East has a case as the deepest division in football, and could send three teams to the NFC Playoffs for the second consecutive year in 2023.
The Philadelphia Eagles, the reigning conference champions, spent the offseason bolstering one of the game's top defenses with some of the most talented players from the University of Georgia during the 2023 NFL Draft.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys pilfered veteran receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerback Stephon Gilmore for a proverbial song. In New York, the Giants dropped playmaking tight end Darren Waller into Daniel Jones' supporting cast, while the Washington Commanders are betting big that Eric Bienemy's influence will elevate a talented offense.
Put it short, all four teams in the NFC East improved over the offseason.
Compared to the gauntlet on the AFC side of the bracket, the NFC race for Super Sunday is wide open. However, quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Dak Prescott are two of the top quarterbacks in the league, giving the Eagles and Cowboys an inside track just as Daniel Jones aims to build on the best season of his career in a second season under head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka's leadership.
After years of NFL fans bemoaning the NFC East's prominent placement in prime time matchups, the division has all the ingredients to be among the most competitive in the sport in 2023.
What League Insiders Are Saying:
"Watch out for Washington, they have talent on defense and now some offensive innovation. They're the Eagles' biggest threat. I still think it's Philly's division to lose, but the Eagles could have a drop off now playing a first-place schedule. Dallas will have extreme pressure with their head coach calling the plays, and a tough schedule. I think the Giants finish fourth, the expectations for Daniel Jones are just a little too high." - NFC South Defensive Coach
Offseason Addition That Will Shape the Race: Darren Waller, TE, New York Giants
Somehow, Daniel Jones passed for 3,205 yards with 15 touchdowns last season, despite Darius Slayton posting a team-high 724 yards and Richie James being the only other Giants receiver to account for more than 500 receiving yards. Enter, Darren Waller.
If Waller can stay healthy, he's arguably one of the top-five tight ends in the NFL, and an absolute matchup nightmare in the vertical passing game.
According to multiple reports, Waller has been one of the early standouts from Giants training camp, and there's little standing in his way from climbing to the top of Jones' target hierarchy. After catching 298 passes for 3,572 yards and 19 touchdowns through the first seven seasons of his career, Waller has the opportunity to be the focal point of the Giants' passing game and is one of the most important players to New York's trajectory in 2023.
NFC East Standings Projections
1) Philadelphia Eagles (12-5)
This might be the deepest, most talented roster in football, led by an MVP caliber quarterback, with a legitimate Super Bowl window for as many years as Jalen Hurts can stay healthy.
Hurts is still ascending as an NFL quarterback, even after passing for a career-high 3,701 yards with 22 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions in his second season as a starter, and first with dynamic playmaker A.J. Brown on the receiving end of his passes, the 24-year-old has the potential to be even better in 2023.
This remains arguably the premier offensive line in football, tasked with keeping Hurts upright and opening running lanes for a stable of backs that features D'Andre Swift, Raashad Penny, and Kenneth Gainwell. Swift averaged 5.5 Yards per Carry in Detroit last season, and Penny 6.1 in Seattle, prior to a tibia fracture ending his season. Hurts' mobility and explosiveness as a passer will only be complemented by the Eagles' running backs with varying rushing styles.
Meanwhile, defensively, general manager Howie Roseman has constructed an impressive two-deep mix of experienced veterans such as Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Haason Reddick, Darius Slay and James Bradberry with highly touted young players such as Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, Nolan Smith, and Jalen Carter who have the potential to form a dominant core to a defense that will dictate to opponents at all three levels.
Philadelphia is rightfully the Super Bowl favorite in the NFC, and few teams have the depth across the board to unseat them.
2) Dallas Cowboys (11-6)
The 2023 season has the trappings of one that will simultaneously be a bit of a transition season and one of desperation for the Dallas Cowboys, as currently constructed.
Dak Prescott has vowed to throw fewer interceptions in 2023, after tossing 15 last season, and this will be his first under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. While Prescott 2,860 yards in 12 games last season, and the addition of Cooks to stretch the field opposite speedy receiver CeeDee Lamb should create opportunities, the 30-year-old must prove he's better in the clutch than his 2-4 postseason record has indicated.
Defensively, the Cowboys should be vastly improved after finishing 22nd in total defense in 2022, thanks to the blockbuster addition of cornerback Stephon Gilmore and rookie Mazi smith at defensive tackle. Micah Parsons, of course, remains one of the game's premier edge rushers, and along with DeMarcus Lawrence, forms one of the league's most formidable pass-rush duos capable of wreaking havoc.
Ultimately, the Cowboys' season will be defined by what happens in the deciding moments of big games, an area Prescott and head coach Mike McCarthy have struggled mightily in in the past.
3) New York Giants (10-7)
There's little doubt after general manager Joe Schoen's second offseason at the helm, the Giants are a team on the rise.
Schoen, somewhat controversially, resisted the urge to sign running back Saquon Barkley to a long-term contract. But, the Giants signed quarterback Daniel Jones to a long-term deal, before adding Waller and steady veteran receiver Parris Campbell and rookie receiver Jalin Hyatt to an offense that sorely lacked NFL-caliber talent one year ago.
Likewise, the foundation appears set along both lines of scrimmage, thanks to All-Pro offensive tackle Andrew Thomas and defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, along with emerging second-year offensive tackle Evan Neal and the arrival of veteran run-stuffer A'Shawn Robinson.
Defensively, this is an explosive group that suddenly has at least one centerpiece at all three levels, and personnel largely tailored to coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale's desire to unleash hell via myriad exotic blitz packages.
Much of the Giants' success in returning to the postseason for the first time in over a decade last season was a testament to Daboll and staff getting the most out of their players, while quickly establishing a competitive culture. This season, the talent on the roster has improved, as well, which could give the Giants the potential to make major strides on last season's unexpected turnaround.
4) Washington Commanders (8-9)
It's a new era in Washington, following the departure of disgraced former owner Daniel Snyder, even if the product on the field might take time to catch up to the new found excitement surrounding the franchise.
Quarterback remains the biggest question mark, and arguably the biggest anvil to expectations in the nation's capital. But, after Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson combined for 112 receptions for 1,714 yards with 12 touchdowns as running back Brian Robinson logged 797 rushing yards and two scores, as a rookie, there's reason to be hopeful this offense will be able to light up the scoreboard.
Defensively, the Commanders are anchored by edge rusher Montez Sweat, who is one of the more underrated at his position across the league. First-round pick Emmanuel Forbes is a legitimate playmaker at cornerback, who should start and have the opportunity to make an immediate impact.
However, there are simply far too many questions and too few answers across this roster to believe this is a team capable of making a run in 2023.
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