Today we take a look at the NFC East, home to some great rivalries and what should be an intriguing NFL divisional battle.
The last time the NFC East saw a repeat division winner was 2003 and 2004. That is 17 years, which amounts to the longest such streak in the NFL. The NFC East has been one of the league’s most competitive divisions during that span as at times all four have been in the hunt.
Lately, the NFC East has been a two-horse race. However, those two horses seem to change every year as the pecking order in the East is constantly evolving. This year, the two teams that look to be contending for the title are the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, with the Washington Commanders being given an outside shot at shaking things up. The New York Giants are hoping to improve their status from last year but many believe they are still a few pieces away. Even the Commanders have a lot of question marks but the Eagles and Cowboys seem primed for a tight division battle and are already prepared to relive their heated rivalry of the past.
Will the Cowboys finally break the 17-year curse of the East by winning back-to-back championships? Or will the Eagles rebuild fly them all the way to another title? Check out our NFC East predictions for the division in our preview, with betting picks, below.
Dallas Cowboys (+2200 to Win Super Bowl, +1000 to Win NFC, +150 to Win NFC East)
D comes before P and C comes before E in the alphabet. That’s the only reason why The Cowboys have top billing here, because otherwise, the American online oddsmakers are split evenly down the middle when it comes to who they like in the NFC East.
Since the alphabet starts with the Cowboys, let’s take a look at their case for the title in 2022. Looking at Dallas’ offseason, there really weren’t any splashy moves, which is somewhat surprising given the team had holes to fill after losing Amari Cooper, Randy Gregory, and La’el Collins to name a few.
Dallas didn’t go out and get anybody, rather they opted to build through the draft, which as one knows comes with its pros and cons. However, one of those pros may have made itself clear before the season even started. The Cowboys drafted Tyler Smith as their first-round pick and it would appear Smith is going to play a huge role out the gate as one of Dallas’ top tackles Tyron Smith, is out for a few months with an injury. This also led to Dallas bringing in veteran Jason Peters, though that move feels a lot less certain.
Offensive lines tend to get underrated but the Cowboys can tell you, this is not a position you want to be short at. Dallas’ offensive line has consistently been among the NFL’s upper echelon for some time now and that has helped the skill players shine. A good line means the quarterback has every chance to succeed and such has been the case in Dallas.
Line woes aside though, the Cowboys should still have a top-ranked offense built off of guys like Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. Though, some of that core is aging in the wrong direction, notably Elliott, who will certainly be under a microscope this season to regain some of what he has lost of late.
Philadelphia Eagles (+2200 Super Bowl, +1000 NFC, +150 NFC East)
I should preface this by saying my allegiance lies with the Philadelphia Eagles. That said, here is an unbiased take on Philadelphia’s chances in 2022.
With the offseason looking like a bit of a dud at first, the Eagles shocked everyone with a draft night trade to bring in top receiver AJ Brown. Since that move, pretty much everything Philadelphia did leading up to the season was in service of getting this team back to an NFC East title and beyond. Sure, the Eagles weren’t immune to offseason departures as they are moving on without a ton of guys who were starters last year, namely Rodney McLeod, Steven Nelson and Brandon Brooks.
None of those guys were making that big of an impact so there was certainly some addition by subtraction for Philly. That said, the team went to work addressing several areas of need. Brown checked the box for wide receiver upgrade, Haason Reddick checked the box for pass rusher upgrade, and guys like Kyzir White and Zach Pascal add to depth, which was an issue last year.
The Eagles had a really great offseason supplemented by a strong draft, but let’s not beat around the bush here. They still have a question mark at the most important position on the field, quarterback. If Jalen Hurts is an NFL quarterback, he’ll have no excuses as to why he can’t show it given that a good chunk of the Eagles’ offseason was focused around setting him up for success. They cleaned up the line that he’ll run behind, brought him a bona fide No. 1 receiver who just so happens to be one of his best friends, and are creating an environment where he can excel. If the Eagles fail this year, they’ll know that they’ll once again be in the market for a quarterback.
Washington Commanders (+7000 Super Bowl, +3500 NFC, +500 NFC East)
The Washington Commanders have a solid team. They have one of the NFL’s top underrated receivers in Terry McLaurin, what should be a future top receiver in Jahan Dotson, a running game with explosive talent in Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic, and a defense that is at worst, average. They also have the biggest quarterback question mark in the NFL in Carson Wentz.
Wentz spent the beginning of his career dazzling for the Philadelphia Eagles. He established himself as a top quarterback in the NFL and got paid for doing so. But then in spectacular fashion, the wheels just fell off. Injuries piled up, self-confidence hit an all-time low, his leadership was (and continues to be) questioned.
Not even two years into his six-year deal, Wentz left Philadelphia, wanting a fresh start. He found one with the Indianapolis Colts and Frank Reich, the guy who helped lead Wentz to his best years in Philly. Even that marriage couldn’t bring Wentz back to a high-level so after the Colts’ collapsed to miss the playoffs, largely on his back, Wentz earned journeyman status going to his third team in the last three years. This one could be the source of Wentz’ rejuvenation or the site of his continued fall from grace. Most analysts believe this is Wentz’ last, best chance to prove he can be a starter in this league, and much like the Eagles have done with Hurts, the Commanders have stacked the deck in order to help that reality happen. Because what’s not being talked about enough is that if Wentz rebounds, once again to become the best QB in the East, then this division is going to tell a much different story in 2022 and beyond.
New York Giants (+12500 Super Bowl, +6000 NFC, +800 NFC East)
The New York Jets and the New York Giants have two things in common. They both play in New Jersey and they both are in the midst of two of the NFL’s longest-current playoff droughts (11 for the Jets and five for the Giants).
For both teams, 2022-23 doesn’t feel like it will be any kinder. The Giants will be better than they were last year, they almost have to be. The team is banking on real NY football names in Buffalo Bills’ Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll to turn this ship around. That began by cutting low-performing veteran players and turning to the draft to kick start this rebuild. Then they used what little cap space they had to bring in a veteran backup for the oft-injured Saquon Bakley in Matt Breida, and added a new center to the mix in Jon Feliciano. Both players also came from the Bills.
Oh, and speaking of players who used to play for the Bills, the Giants also signed former Bill Tyrod Taylor to be the backup for Daniel Jones. Therein lies another East team with questions at quarterback. Jones was taking some strides last year before he got injured but much like Wentz, and Hurts, there is a lot there we aren’t sure about. It is part of what makes the Cowboys so appealing as favorites. They are the only team in the division that knows what they are going to get at that position.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.