Everyone uses different indicators when predicting divisional winners. There are four keys, in no particular order, that I consider when carefully calculating my NFC East 2017 predictions:
- How good is your quarterback?
- How tough is your strength of schedule?
- How many miles does your team travel?
- How many games does Vegas have your team winning?
These are not the “end all, be all” qualifications. These are the key indicators that help decide who wins and who loses. Quarterback play is extremely important in the NFL, especially when trying to make a playoff run. As teams continue to win in January, there is a direct correlation with how good their quarterback is.
The strength of schedule is also an important factor. It gives an objective base to start with and make predictions based on their opponents 2016 win/loss record. Regardless of what the popular opinion is, traveling wears on people and yes, that includes athletes. The more your team travels, the harder it is to get ready game after game. And finally, Vegas. When people involve money, everything changes. You’ve heard the phrase “Follow the money” – there is a reason Vegas is so successful. They know what they are doing.
And from there game-by-game selections are made; sometimes going against my better judgment. Additional keys to consider are home field advantage, coaching, offensive/defensive line play, and skilled playmakers.
Now that I’ve bored you with my selection process, let’s talk football. From last to first, below are my NFC East 2017 predictions.
The Washington Redskins are a very perplexing team to me. They significantly improved their defense from a season ago but stayed stagnant on the offensive side of the football. While they did lose DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon, the Redskins added Terrelle Pryor who, in my opinion, is a complete receiver than Jackson or Garçon.
Kirk Cousins is a very talented quarterback and he isn’t getting the credit he deserves. He nearly threw for 5,000 yards last season. Only Drew Brees and Matt Ryan threw for more yards in 2016.
With this in mind, let’s review the checklist for the Washington Redskins.
- Kirk Cousins is currently the best quarterback in this division.
- The Redskins have the hardest “strength of schedule” in the division – 7th overall.
- Washington travels the second most miles in the NFC East: 20,762 miles.
- Vegas only has the Redskins winning 7.5 games this season – last in the division.
Initially, I had the Redskins winning more games, but after checking their strength of schedule and what Vegas thought of this roster, I lowered my expectations. However, I am higher on the Redskins than most.
The health of Jordan Reed is crucial. He is Cousins safety blanket and without him, this team may struggle to put up points.
Carson Wentz has really impressed me. He continues to show signs of growth and improvement. I expect him and this offense to take significant strides this season – especially with the addition of Alshon Jeffery.
Now in his second year, there should be higher expectations for Carson Wentz. The Eagles have seen two straight 7-9 seasons. Not this season. The defensive front still wrecks offensive lines and gets in the backfield at an alarming rate.
Let’s review the keys for the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Carson Wentz is currently the third best quarterback in this division behind Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott.
- The Eagles are tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the easiest “strength of schedule” in this division.
- Philadelphia travels the second most in the NFC East: 20,227 miles.
- Vegas has the Philadelphia Eagles winning 8.0 games this season – third in the division.
Las Vegas is not as high on the Eagles, either. The Eagles are an up-and-coming team, but they are still lacking the pieces the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants have that help win the division. The Cowboys have an immaculate offensive line. The Giants have a remarkable front-seven that goes toe-to-toe with any team.
Right now, Philadelphia is still in the “middle-of-the-pack” group and until Carson Wentz elevates the Eagles above the noise, mediocre is where they will remain.
NFL experts are very high on Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2017 season. The biggest question looming over this team which games is Ezekiel Elliott missing due to his six-game suspension?
Regardless of how long Ezekiel Elliott is out, the Cowboys are still a dang good football team. They have a top 3 offensive line, arguably the best young quarterback in Dak Prescott, and a premier receiver in Dez Bryant.
What makes me hesitant about this team is their poor defense. They lost all four starters in the secondary, and only added pass rushers through the draft. They took a significant step back defensively and I think it will come back to bite them.
Let’s review the keys for the Dallas Cowboys.
- Dak Prescott is one of the most poised, young quarterbacks and is well on his way to a top 10 quarterback ranking.
- Dallas is tied with the Eagles for the easiest “strength of schedule” in this division.
- The Cowboys travel the least amount of miles in the NFC East: 18,084 miles.
- Vegas has the Cowboys winning 9.5 games – most in the division.
Vegas is low balling the Cowboys in my opinion. To go from 13 wins to 9 would be a significant step backward – one that owner Jerry Jones would not be pleased with.
New York Giants
Last season the Dallas Cowboys lost three games – two of them coming at the hands of the New York “Football” Giants. Does anyone else find it interesting that Ezekiel Elliott is suspended six games, but not the opening game against the New York Giants on Primetime television?
Call me crazy, but the NFL is blood-thirsty for money and I wouldn’t put it past them to string up something like this. Regardless of who the Cowboys start at running back, they will have to go through the punishing front seven of the G-men.
Let’s review the New York Giants checklist.
- Eli Manning is officially the worst quarterback in this division.
- The Giants have the second hardest schedule in the NFC East.
- The G-men also travel the most of any divisional rival: 21,883 miles.
- Vegas has the New York Giants winning 9.0 games – second in the NFC East.
All of the odds are against the Giants to win this division. In my opinion, this defense is bone-crushing and dominant. The Giants also added weapons on the offensive side of the football in Brandon Marshall.
Teams will opt to not double Odell Becham Jr. which will give Eli Manning an ample amount of offensive weapons to choose from.
Who do you have winning this division?