Predicting the NFC East

The Footballguys staff looks at how the NFC East will end up in 2021

Links to discussions of other divisions:


Let's dig a little into the NFC East. Who takes this division? How many wins do you predict for each team?

NFC East Team
Vegas Win
Totals
Staff Predictions
Avg Place
1st-Place Votes
2nd-Place Votes
3rd-Place Votes
4th-Place Votes
Dallas Cowboys
9.5
1.45
6
5
0
0
Washington Football Team
8.0
1.55
5
6
0
0
New York Giants
7.0
3.09
0
0
10
1
Philadelphia Eagles
6.5
3.91
0
0
1
10

Note: Vegas Win Totals are taken from VegasInsider.com.

Jason Wood

The Eagles are in a complete rebuild, and this year should be solely focused on seeing which of the younger players are core cogs worth building around in 2022 and beyond. Expectations among fantasy managers are high for Jalen Hurts, but his statistical success as a runner is far more assured than his success as an NFL signal-caller. Combine that with a young, inexperienced coaching staff and Philadelphia should be lucky to win five games this year.

Washington's defense and ground game are good enough to keep them in playoff contention, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is being massively overrated as the missing piece to unlocking the offense. You don't end up on nine different NFL franchises by being awful, but you also don't start for nine teams because you're good and a winner, either. He runs hot and he runs ice cold. That will keep Washington from overtaking the Cowboys, who will cruise to a division title with the NFC's top offense. The Giants over/under seems high, to me. I expect them to win between four and six games.

Jeff Haseley

My gut says this division comes down to Dallas and Washington. The two play each other in Week 14 and Week 16 in what could be a crucial stretch to decide the division title. Washington has improved on offense, and their defense is expected to be one of the best in the league. Will it be enough to stop the Cowboys and their wealth of talent on offense? Time will tell. I have the Giants finishing third in a tight battle that may come down to the last game of the season vs. Washington. Finishing with a 10-7 record may be enough to earn a wildcard berth, and the Giants may wind up needing the Week 18 victory to seal the deal. The return of Saquon Barkley, the acquisition of Kenny Golladay, and an underrated defense give the Giants a fighting chance in the division. Philadelphia brings up the rear in a rebuilding year that may see a change at quarterback at some point during the season. The Eagles have a new coaching staff with talent at multiple positions that need to prove themselves. The pieces are in place for Philadelphia, but it may take a year or two before they become consistent winners again. Jalen Hurts is a huge piece of the puzzle. If he out-produces expectations, Philadelphia could be a surprise, but if not, it could be a long season.

  • Washington 11-6
  • Dallas 11-6
  • NY Giants 10-7
  • Philadelphia 6-10

Andy Hicks

Taking the under on all but the Eagles last year would have gotten you all four correct. This year it is much tougher. I don’t have any data to prove it, but my hunch is that because of the 17 game season taking the over where possible is the wise thing to do. We have also seen divisions rise and fall with a quick turnaround.
This division has one first-year head coach and three in their second year at the helm. Two of the sides will have a new quarterback to start the season. It is hard to see a Superbowl contender here, despite the optimism of fans to start the year.

Philadelphia looks to have the biggest struggle to exceed the over. As Jason mentioned they should be looking towards future years and clearing the salary cap to have better years in 2022 and beyond. That said if the unit gels in training camp, you just never know.

The Giants have to make a leap forward this season or at the very least they will be looking for a new GM and quarterback. Daniel Jones has been given weapons and a fit Saquon Barkley makes this team worth watching. Exceeding seven wins looks an easy call providing injuries don’t hit key players.

Washington has a championship-caliber defense, but thinking that Ryan Fitzpatrick, he of zero playoff appearances, can keep the offense humming along is a disaster in the making. He is great when hot, but will cost the team wins when he is not. I do like Ron Rivera and the team more if Taylor Heinicke or Kyle Allen start more games than the veteran. Fitzmagic works best when coming from behind or in a lost cause.

Dallas is the clear favorite, but the offensive line needs to hold up and the practically new and inexperienced defense needs to be good and work well together. This team is better when Dak Prescott is starting, but he still needs to prove he can win the big games on a consistent basis.

  • Philadelphia 2-10 wins, prediction 4-13
  • NY Giants 4-12 wins, prediction 10-7
  • Dallas 6-14 wins, prediction 11-6
  • Washington 7-13 wins, prediction 10-7

Anthony Amico

I still think this division is Washington's to lose. They bring back one of the NFL's top defenses and have made massive improvements all along their offense. The addition of Ryan Fitzpatrick should greatly improve a passing game that had an aDOT of just 5.1 under Alex Smith, as will Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown.

Dallas will get Dak Prescott back from injury, but the Cowboys weren't good enough on defense to win games even with their start signal-caller in 2020. They spent each of their first six draft picks (all 115 or lower) on that side of the ball. Ultimately, I think this team will be too consistently great on offense to not be in the playoff mix.

Dave Gettleman probably should have just taken Justin Fields himself, but a trade back indicates this is probably Daniel Jones' last chance to prove he can be the Giants' long-term quarterback. I am pessimistic that this will be the case. This team is basically a worse version of Washington's. They are also strong on defense and spent a lot of the off-season re-vamping the offense. We'll see if Joe Judge can continue to make lemonade out of lemons.

Philly is a total wildcard to me. They seem to be building in a way to create some optionality going forward, should things not work out with Jalen Hurts, but there is still plenty of talent on the roster. Hopefully, Nick Sirianni is willing to play to Hurts' strengths and isn't already thinking about the pocket-passer he could get in the 2022 draft. Hurts has MVP-level upside if things break right.

  • Washington Football Team -- 10
  • Dallas Cowboys -- 10
  • New York Giants -- 9
  • Philadelphia Eagles -- 7

Ryan Weisse

I have to agree that this division comes down to Washington and Dallas. Interestingly, it’s Dallas’ offense that will carry them and Washington has a defense to be feared by all. When it’s all said and done, they should both end up in the playoffs.

Dallas did enough to sure up their defense and their offense should be top-three in the league if Dak Prescott is back to form. How is anyone going to stop those wide receivers and Ezekiel Elliott? It will be close but they should end up winning the division.

Washington bringing in Ryan Fitzpatrick should bring some stability to the offense, but Fitz-Magic is a gunslinger and will lose them a game or two this season. However, he and Terry McLaurin will be a lethal combo. The defense was already good and gets better in 2021. They will make a push to win the division again.

There is hope for a better offense in New York, with the return of Saquon Barkley and the addition of Kenny Golladay, but Daniel Jones still has a lot to prove. Thankfully for them, their defense is solid enough to keep them competitive.

The Giants and Eagles will spend the season battling for last place. The Eagles are definitely a rebuild but have the pieces in place to steal a few games this season. Their offense is intriguing but their defense will hold them back.

  • DAL 12-5
  • WAS 12-5
  • NYG 5-12
  • PHI 5-12

Chad Parsons

I could easily see Dallas, Washington, or the Giants with double-digit wins. If the Cowboys are even average on defense, they will be a tough out with a healthy Dak Prescott. The pivot player for the entire division is Daniel Jones. The Giants added Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, return Saquon Barkley from injury, and still have Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and Evan Engram. Add in an underrated defense and the Giants are loaded IF Daniel Jones has his best season to date. I am skeptical based on his career arc to date, but they are all-in on building around Jones and this is the critical 'no excuses' season for Jones and the Giants to surge upwards in the division.

Washington, in addition to Dallas, has the highest ceiling for the division team outcomes. Washington notably added to linebacker and the secondary this offseason to balance their strong defensive front. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a massive upgrade over their Franken-QB in 2020 which was a limitation for the offense with limited weapons. They added Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown to a WR2+ depth chart which was a ghost town last season. I would not be surprised if Washington wins 11-12 games and wins the division. The schedule of opposing quarterbacks is brutal for Washington, which is an ancillary reason for the pause they get over the double-digit win hump.

  • Dallas 9 wins
  • Washington 9 wins
  • NY Giants 8 wins
  • Philadelphia 5 wins

Ryan Hester

This division reminds me of the stretch the NFC South had years ago where there was a worst-to-first scenario nearly every year. I don’t say that to predict it to flip on its head entirely, but it’s a hard division to predict.

Dallas and Washington are the class of the group, and which one you pick or ably comes down to whether you think offense or defense play the bigger role. In this case, I’ll take Dallas as the winner because their quarterback is much better, and their weapons are excellent. That seems like a more reliable formula in today’s NFL.

Predicted wins for each team:

  • Dallas - 11
  • Washington - 10
  • New York - 6
  • Philadelphia- 6

Dallas and Washington each make the postseason as the division formerly known as the NFC Least turns a bit more traditional with a big gap between the haves and have-nots.

Sigmund Bloom

The NFC East draws the AFC West and NFC South. Both divisions are a mixed bag with no true gimmes and a game against a Super Bowl team. In addition to those games and divisional games, each team has three additional games.

  • Dallas: @NE @MIN ARI
  • NYG: LAR @MIA @CHI
  • Philadelphia: SF @DET @NYJ
  • Washington: @BUF @GB SEA

Every team in this division should be improved. Dallas will get back Dak Prescott and hopefully see better health from the offensive line. The Eagles will also get their offensive line health restored, Washington has Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the Giants added Kenny Golladay, get Saquon Barkley back, and will be in year two of the Jason Garrett system. The Giants were 2-8 outside of the division and it's difficult to have faith in Daniel Jones. They didn't get any favors from the draw of the Rams, Dolphins, and Bears. Jalen Hurts and the new coaching staff are wild cards for the Eagles. The Cowboys should be a contender this year as long as Dak stays on the field, and Washington will be right there with them, but they have two very tough road games out of the three non-shared opponents. I've got it:

  • Dallas 9-8
  • NYG 5-12
  • Philadelphia 7-10
  • Washington 9-8

Whether this division sends two teams to the playoffs may come down to tiebreakers.

Jordan McNamara

The big takeaway from this thread is how important Daniel Jones's development is to the Giants. They are essentially a bimodal projection from the group: 10, 10, 9, 5, 8, 6, 5. How you view his progression is a big part of the spread of the win projection.

Jalen Hurts struggled as a passer in 2020 but I think the strategy by Philadelphia to give him a year audition while stockpiling assets is the epitome of playing the long game, particularly with the uncertainty of Deshaun Watson. I doubt Hurts is the long-term answer, but think their decision to pause at the position is the right play, even if Hurts fails. I also have doubts about the Giants, particularly the development of Daniel Jones. While the Giants looked to have a good offseason, I think you could look back in two years and realize the offensive additions of Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney did little for the team.

Dallas has a top-three offense while Washington has a potentially elite defense. One of my favorite stats to look at is offensive yards per play and defensive yards per play allowed. Washington ranked second in defensive yards per play allow (4.9), but 31st in offensive yards per play (4.8) behind only the Jets. I think the addition of Ryan Fitzpatrick is a big deal in improving Washington's record and upside. The 2019-2020 San Francisco 49ers are a recent example of an elite defense going deep into the playoffs with a middle-of-pack quarterback. If I'm shooting for deeper Super Bowl odds, I'm embracing Fitzpatrick's variance.

  • Dallas Cowboys -- 9
  • New York Giants -- 5
  • Philadelphia Eagles -- 5
  • Washington Football Team -- 11

Victoria Geary

Though this division was deemed The NFC Least last year, this will not be the case in 2021.

Washington is my clear front-runner to take the division. Their elite defense finished first in passing yards allowed and fourth in points allowed per game, and they have a great chance to be fantasy's No. 1 defense in 2021. Though new quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick can be hot or cold depending on the day, the defense will be able to bail him out more often than not, a la Tom Brady on his journey to another Super Bowl ring in 2020. Ron Rivera unleashed Christian McCaffery in his sophomore year with the Panthers, so I have no qualms he will do the same with second-year running back Antonio Gibson in the backfield. The only true question mark for the WFT: can they slow down Dak and the Dallas offense?

Many believe Dak won't be the same when he comes back from injury, but I am personally not worried. He was on pace for a record-setting season before he suffered a gruesome compound fracture in his ankle last year. There's no reason to believe they can't replicate their early-season production. Amari Cooper is being criminally overshadowed by the Ceedee Lamb hype, but he was the PPR wide receiver #1 Weeks 1-4 in 2020 before Dak was out for the season. If Dallas can improve defensively, they have a chance to push Washington for the division title.

It seems like this is the final shot for Daniel Jones to prove to the Giants he is their guy. Luckily, the team made a decent effort to build around Jones, adding wide receiver Kenny Golladay in free agency. Golladay is a big-bodied playmaker who caught 10 of 13 contested targets last season - second in the league behind Cole Beasley. Jones' situation is very similar to Drew Lock in Denver in that he has so much riding on this season and can truly make or break his team's win percentage. The Giant's defense is very quietly underrated though and should keep them in the conversation as the season progresses.

Let it be known: I am very high on Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts for fantasy this year and have him ranked as my QB5. As fun as that sounds, Philly will most likely finish with the least amount of wins. Haters hang their hats on Hurts’ 52% completion rate, but 46% of his passing attempts were thrown 10-plus yards down the field in 2020 —the highest rate in the NFL per Pro Football Focus. With the addition of wide receiver DeVonta Smith and a better rapport with the rest of the receiving corps in year 2, Hurts and company will certainly be fun to watch in 2021. Unfortunately, they didn't do nearly enough in free agency or the NFL draft to keep them in contention for the division title.

  • Washington 11-6
  • Dallas 10-7
  • New York 7-10
  • Philadelphia 6-11

Will Grant

I think Sigmund's analysis is spot on. While everyone in the division has something to hang their hat on this summer, I don't see any changes that will translate into enough wins to make anyone a 10-game winner. Dak Prescott will throw for 5000 yards this season. He's going to need to because the Cowboys are still going to give up 30 points a game. Washington has a solid defense, but will their offense hold out all season to translate into three or four more wins? The Giants get Barkley back but have so many other holes, and the Eagles are taking some serious rebuilding steps in a weak division which should give them an extra couple of wins they might not get someplace else.

I don't see any of these guys as a 10-game winner - and I think the division is Washington's to lose.

  • Washington 9-8
  • Dallas 8-9
  • Philadelphia 7-10
  • NYG 6-11

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