New York Giants (10-6)
The Giants are the team with the fewest question marks in the division. The additions of cornerback Janoris Jenkins through free agency and Eli Apple in the draft will bolster the Giants secondary that had its problems last season. Olivier Vernon is a bit of a stretch but will improve the pass rush as well. The receiving core of Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and a (hopefully) healthy Victor Cruz should flourish with Eli Manning in the third year of Ben McAdoo’s offense. The Giants did struggle last season in preseason and did so early in this preseason. That could be an issue again. Ben McAdoo had to be promoted to head coach to keep Eli familiar with the offense; the question will be answered as to whether or not he is ready.
Washington Redskins (9-7)**
The Redskins will attempt to become the first repeat champion in this division since the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005 and 2006. The Redskins made the big offseason acquisition in acquiring cornerback Josh Norman from the Carolina Panthers. Norman was good last season, but played a lot of zone coverage in the Panthers scheme. It will be interesting to see if the Redskins ask him to play more in man-to-man this season. Kirk Cousins was efficient last season, but it was a contract year so we will have to see if he can continue that improvement. DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are solid weapons in the passing game and Jordan Reed is very underrated as a tight end. Offensive guard Brandon Scherff will have to continue to progress now in his second season for this offensive line.
Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
The Cowboys will play the first half of the season without Tony Romo who suffered a compression fracture in his back against the Seahawks this preseason. The Cowboys weren’t going to do much this season regardless. Dak Prescott will perform better than the Cowboys backups last year, but they went 1-11 so that shouldn’t be too difficult. Ezekiel Elliot should flourish behind the Cowboys offensive line and a healthy Dez Bryant will make it easy for Prescott. With or without Romo the Cowboys offense isn’t the issue however. Their defense has zero pass rush. Sean Lee’s durability is always an issue at linebacker and their secondary is average at best. Second year safety Byron Jones will have to force turnovers and play incredible for this defense to make any noise. The first half of the schedule is manageable, so if Prescott can keep this team competitive and the defense survives, Dallas has a shot with Romo coming back. This is a serious injury however, and the second half of the schedule is brutal so don’t expect it.
Philadelphia Eagles (6-10)
The Eagles should not be able to do much this season. They are going back to a conventional offense after playing in Chip Kelly’s ‘fast break’ scheme the last three years. Switching players back to a conventional pro style will be an issue for this team, and I expect will also impede the progress of rookie Carson Wentz. I don’t see them putting Wentz in to an offense still adjusting like that. Fletcher Cox is one of the better players in the league on the defensive line, and Malcolm Jenkins is a solid safety. The rest of the defense is suspect after that. Eagles may struggle to get to even six wins this year.
**Denotes Playoff Team