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NFL Pro Football 2014 NFC East Preview

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Fearless Rick's NFL Preview - NFC East

Rick Gagliano | July 23, 2014

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles

2013 Record: 10-6

2014 Expected Finish: 13-3

The Eagles were the only team in the NFC East to reach the playoffs last season, losing a heartbreaker to New Orleans, 26-24, in the wild card round, but better outcomes are expected from the team which embraced Nick Foles as their quarterback and ditched aging - and often-injured Michael Vick.

Foles was a picture of efficiency in 2013, throwing for 2891 yards, 27 TDs and a league-low two (yes, two) interceptions, but he will miss deep threat DeSean Jackson, who jumped to the Redskins via free agency.

Foles still has a number of sure-handed receivers in Riley Cooper, Brent Celek and Jason Avant, plus workhorse LeSean McCoy out of the backfield. The Eagles also picked up Darren Sproles from New Orleans and Jeremy Maclin will also return from a torn ACL suffered in training camp which forced him to miss the entire 2013 season.

Under head coach Chip Kelly, Philly's fast-paced offense finished the regular season 4th in scoring (27.6) and second in yards per game (417.2) and may be even better a year into the new system.

If the defense improves, look out. Ranked 29th in yards per game (394.0), mostly because they were on the field too much, and 17th in points allowed (23.9), the Eagles were +12 in turnovers, forcing 31 takeaways. Free agent Malcolm Jenkins will be FS and rookie DE Marcus Smith should have an impact.

Bottom line, most teams won't be able to stay with the Eagles for four quarters, and, while 10-6 was a good mark in 2013, 13-3 is within reach for what may be a Super Bowl-bound squad.

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Dallas Cowboys

2013 Record: 8-8

2014 Expected Finish: 9-7

Dallas was the most up-and-down team in the league last season, never winning nor losing more than two in a row, finishing an undistinguished 8-8, for the third straight season.

This is Jason Garrett's fourth season as the Cowboys' head coach, and one wonders if owner Jerry Jones will have patience if the team gets off to another of its traditional slow starts (2-3 in each of the last three years).

Most of the problems are on defense, where the Cowboys allowed 27 points per game, good for 26th in the NFL. They were dead last in yards allowed per game, at a whopping 415.3 yards on average. Losing both DT Jason Hatcher and DE DeMarcus Ware to free agency isn't going to help and the Cowboy brass did little to amend the thin situation on the d-line.

Offensively, the Cowboys should be above average. They were 5th overall in points (27.4 per game) and 16th in yards per game (341.1) and also benefited from being +8 in the turnover department. With DeMarco Murray getting the bulk of the carries and Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Terrance Williams as available targets for Tony Romo, the Cowboys will be a threat to score from anywhere on the field.

If the offense remains healthy and the defense can hold up or even improve, the Cowboys could conceivably make the playoffs, but it's not going to be easy. Nine wins are a distinct possibility; anything over 10 is unlikely.

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Washington Redskins

2013 Record: 3-13

2014 Expected Finish: 8-8

There was a great deal of hope and trepidation as 2013 started, after Robert Griffin III led the Redskins to their first winning season in five year in 2012, but was injured in their 24-14 wild card playoff loss to Seattle. The season soon turned into a bust, as the 'Skins lost their first three games en route to a terrible, 3-13 mark.

RG3 was back for the opener in 2013 and remained healthy throughout the season, but his numbers were, in a word, atrocious, throwing for 16 TDs, but also pitching 12 picks. While he ran for 489 yards, Griffin probably won't be running the read-option as often under new head coach, Jay Gruden, a detriment to the offense overall.

Alfred Morris, who led the team with 1275 yards on 276 carries, figures to get an appropriate amount of work, but the offense will feature more passing, especially to DeSean Jackson (from Philly) and Pierre Garcon.

Defensively, the Redskins were not able to stop passing teams. They were dead last in the league in passing yards per attempt (7.58) and 27th in completion %, at 65.6. Addressing their deficiencies, Washington signed free agents DT Jason Hatcher, FS Ryan Clark, CB Tracy Porter and LB Akeem Jordan, keen players for a defense which is likely to improve.

The schedule helps, in that the NFC East plays the AFC South, and, other than Indy, the division is weak, which could result in three wins for the 'Skins.

NY Giants

2013 Record: 7-9

2014 Expected Finish: 6-10

Hakeem Nicks left via free agency along with Justin Tuck, two key players on a team which registered its first losing record (7-9) since 2004.

At times last season, the Giants were absolutely miserable, like in their 38-0 loss at Carolina, a 31-7 defeat at Kansas City and a 37-14 loss at San Diego. They began the season 0-6, finished up 7-3, but they were statistically an also-ran in the league, with a defense which finished 18th in points allowed per game (23.9) and an offense ranked 28th in scoring (18.4), 29th in rushing (83.2), -15 in turnovers and generally near the bottom in all other offensive categories.

Rashad Jennings is supposed to be the featured back, and Eli Manning has capable targets in Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle, but the running game has to improve.

New York added corners Walter Thurmond and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but did nothing to bolster the d-line.

Overall, the Giants look like the weakest of the bunch in the division and getting to 8-8 may be more than they're capable of doing. Look for another down year in Gotham and possibly a late-season coaching change, as Tom Coughlin may have worn out his welcome with Giants' fans and the front office.

Copyright 2014, 2015, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.



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