Predicting the NFC East standings for the 2021 NFL season

NFC East, NFL
NFL Analysis Network

The 2020 season as a whole for the NFC East was not great. The Washington Football Team won the division with a 7-9 record, as the entirety of the division was the butt of plenty of jokes throughout the season.

Coming into the 2021 season, there are question marks for each team, but the division should be better as a whole. This division is one of the biggest wild cards in the league, as there hasn’t been a repeat champion since the early 2000s when the Philadelphia Eagles won the division from 2001-2004.

So, if history remains the same, the Washington Football Team will find it difficult to win the division crown in 2021. How could things shake out this season? Here are some predictions for how the NFC East standings will be this upcoming season.

4. Philadelphia Eagles

After they seemed to throw the final game of the season to improve their draft position, to the dismay of many players, the organization has a lot of cleaning up to do.

The roster is the worst one in the division. Jalen Hurts enters his first season as the starting quarterback with a ton of question marks at wide receiver. The team used their first-round pick on reigning Heisman Trophy winner, DeVonta Smith, but there isn’t a receiver on the team with more than two seasons of NFL experience. The offensive line has been ravaged by major injuries, putting the effectiveness of this offense as a whole in question.

Defensively, Philadelphia has some pieces, such as Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Darius Slay, but this unit was in the bottom third in the NFL last season and not many additions were made to change that.

With a rookie head coach in Nick Sirianni, it could be a long season in the City of Brotherly Love ending with a last-place finish in the NFC East.

3. Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys had a miserable first season under Mike McCarthy, as injuries ravaged their roster. They will be looking to bounce back with better health in 2021.

Star quarterback Dak Prescott will be returning to the lineup after injuring his ankle in 2020. He will lead what looks like will be one of the best offenses in the league. Ezekiel Elliott will be leading the backfield and Tony Pollard gives them an excellent change of pace back. Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup form arguably the best wide receiver trio in the NFL.

For how good the offense looks, the defense is questionable. 2020 saw Dallas surrender the most points ever and second-most yardage in franchise history. Dan Quinn will be replacing Mike Nolan, but there is only so much a coach can do.

Without major strides on the defensive side of the ball, Dallas will find itself in the bottom half of the NFC East.

2. Washington Football Team

The Washington Football Team shocked everyone when they won the 2020 NFC East crown behind the inspiring return of Alex Smith at quarterback. He was able to go 5-1 in the games he started, having a triumphant return from a leg injury that threatened his playing career and life.

With Smith now retired, veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will be taking over as the starting quarterback. He enters a good situation and could arguably have the best season of his career after showing he had plenty of juice left with the Miami Dolphins last season.

Curtis Samuel joined a solid, developing group of pass-catchers led by Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas. Antonio Gibson will lead the backfield, but the defense is what will be the calling card for Washington.

Washington’s defense is loaded and should once again be one of the best units in the league and likely the best in the NFC East. They are loaded with talent throughout every level, with Chase Young as the headliner upfront, Cole Holcomb leading the linebackers and former Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins leading the back end.

1. New York Giants

The Giants have some extra motivation for 2021 with how 2020 ended. Ultimately, it is their fault for even putting their fate in the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17, so they will make sure to not allow that to happen again.

The Giants’ 2021 relies solely on if Daniel Jones can take that next step. The organization has done everything to surround him with improved talent, as they signed Kenny Golladay, John Ross and Kyle Rudolph in free agency. They used their first-round pick on wide receiver Kadarius Toney as well. The offensive line improved as 2020 went on and there is hope that will carry into 2021.

Defensively, the Giants were great last season, exceeding all expectations. They have the looks of a unit that will be again. Leonard Williams was retained in free agency and Azeez Ojulari was selected in the second round to bolster the pass rush. The secondary was shored up with the addition of Adoree’ Jackson in free agency and they will hopefully get a full season of Xavier McKinney in 2021.

Many may not agree with this prediction for the Giants to win the NFC East, but that’s the prediction nonetheless.