TODAY'S PAPER
44° Good Evening
44° Good Evening
SportsFootball

NFL preview 2018: NFC East outlook

How the Giants compare in their division heading into the 2018 NFL season

Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles prior to

Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles prior to the NFC Championship game against Minnesota at Lincoln Financial Field on Jan. 21, 2018. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Patrick Smith

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

COACH: Doug Pederson, 3rd season (20-12, .625)

LAST SEASON: 13-3, 1st place

PLAYOFFS: beat Atlanta, 15-10, in divisional round;

beat Minnesota, 38-7, in NFC Championship;

beat New England, 41-33, in Super Bowl.

OUTLOOK: It was a dream season for the Eagles in 2017, as they won the first Super Bowl in franchise history by overcoming the late-season loss of quarterback Carson Wentz with a spectacular relief effort from backup Nick Foles. With Wentz still rounding into shape after ACL surgery in December, the Eagles will need Foles yet again — for at least a short while. He has been named the starter for Week 1. The roster is stacked, though, and there’s no reason they can’t get back to the playoffs. Repeating? It’s going to be tough, especially with such balance in the NFC.

NEW YORK GIANTS

COACH: Pat Shurmur, 1st season

LAST SEASON: 3-13, 4th place

OUTLOOK: Pat Shurmur inherits a 3-13 team that bottomed out under Ben McAdoo, and there’s a good chance that the veteran offensive-minded coach will settle things down and preside over a much-improved team. Shurmur and new GM Dave Gettleman continue to believe in Eli Manning, but the quarterback will have to show that his reduced numbers in recent years weren’t a reflection of his age, but rather the weak roster surrounding him. Odell Beckham Jr.’s return is a huge boost to the offense, as is first-round running back Saquon Barkley. The defense should be better under first-year coordinator James Bettcher. With a few breaks, the Giants can think about a wild card.

DALLAS COWBOYS

COACH: Jason Garrett, 9th season (66-52, .559)

LAST SEASON: 9-7, 2nd place

OUTLOOK: The specter of a Zeke Elliott suspension last year hung over the team through the offseason and into the regular season, and Elliott’s failed attempts to overturn the sanction on a domestic violence issue impacted the Cowboys’ performance. There are no significant off-field issues entering this season, and Elliott and third-year quarterback Dak Prescott are optimistic the team can get back to playing the way they did during a 13-3 run in 2016. One big difference from last year: no Dez Bryant, as the Cowboys moved on from their mercurial receiver. There is uncertainty on the offensive line with center Travis Frederick suffering from an autoimmune illness and out indefinitely. The defense returns mostly intact, so the Cowboys are certainly capable of making a playoff run, even in a packed division.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

COACH: Jay Gruden, 6th season (28-35-1, .445)

LAST SEASON: 7-9, 3rd place

OUTLOOK: The Kirk Cousins era ended with a whimper, as the Redskins decided to move on and invest big money in veteran Alex Smith. It’s a daunting challenge for Smith, though, because the Redskins are hurting at running back — injuries prompted them to sign Adrian Peterson, who is long past his prime — and the receivers are only so-so. Jordan Reed is one of the NFL’s premier tight ends, but has suffered injury problems. The Redskins have invested big in the defensive line the last two years with first-round picks Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne, but it’s not a deep group. Gruden has his work cut out getting back to the tournament.

New York Sports