Home > Sports > Professional Leagues > NFC Beast – 2023 NFC East Division Preview

NFC Beast – 2023 NFC East Division Preview

Scott Logush

Associate Editor

A few years ago, the NFC East winner was below .500, and hosted the eventual Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (egg on my face for saying they wouldn’t win the Super Bowl that year, got Brady’d), and gave them the fight of their playoff lives with a magical performance from Taylor Heinickie. Now, the Eagles are coming off a Super Bowl appearance, the Cowboys and Giants are coming off playoff wins, with the Washington Commanders coming in with a new owner. The NFC East, similarly to the AFC East, has the makings of one of the tougher divisions in the NFL. Let’s see what they have to look forward to in 2023. 

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have one of the stronger rosters in the league with a consistent defensive player of the year candidate in Micah Parsons coming off another great season and 90 pressures, 15 hits, and 61 hurries. DeMarcus Lawrence is a consistent 50+ pressure guy, and is a major disruptor in the run game as well with 44 stops last season. They’ll be relying on first-round selection Mazi Smith out of Michigan to help secure the middle of their defensive line. The Cowboys boast a strong secondary with complementary skillsets. Trevon Diggs is a gambler, looking to force a turnover while risking allowing a big play, and Stephon Gilmore is more of a steady lockdown guy. While Gilmore is not the elite lockdown corner he was in the late 2010s with New England, he’s a number one corner who will help the Cowboys immensely in 2023. Leighton Vander Esch had a strong year in 2022, excelling in coverage and allowing a career-low 7.3 yards per reception while also improving as a tackler with a career-low missed tackle percentage. 

Offensively, it’s a mixed bag. Dak Prescott is a Kirk Cousins-level quarterback who gets treated like an elite one. He’s a good quarterback, you can win with him, but don’t expect him to be able to carry a team by himself. He’s had opportunities in the past and was unable to do it, nothing against him but it’s the reality of the situation. The Cowboys return an impressive offensive line with one of the best guards in the NFL in Zach Martin, and Tyler Smith who was great as a rookie. Veteran left tackle Tyron Smith got injured around this time last year, and although he played in 2022 I don’t think he fully recovered. Now with more time to get his body right, look for the career Cowboy to return to as a top-ten left tackle. They also have one of the best skill position groups in the NFL. Brandin Cooks was acquired via trade in the offseason, and is still capable of being incredibly productive as a second option. CeeDee Lamb has established himself as the top guy, and Michael Gallup will be over a year removed from his ACL injury. Dallas also fixed the mistake that was the Ezekiel Elliott contract and is moving forward with Tony Pollard. Dallas has a strong roster, and after a major coaching change that saw them move on from Kellen Moore, all the pressure is on Mike McCarthy.

New York Giants

The New York Giants wildly overachieved in 2022. With Daniel Jones entering a contract year, Saquon Barkley coming off a major injury, and a new coach, a playoff win was almost certainly not in the cards. Then, they waltz into Minnesota and upset the 13-win Vikings at home. Their offseason included signing Daniel Jones to an extension that isn’t as lucrative as it seems, franchise tagging Saquon Barkley, and acquiring pass catcher Darren Waller. Their offense was largely the result of Barkley being incredible, and Brian Daboll holding it together with duct tape. Daniel Jones was nothing impressive in 2022. He had his lowest average depth of target at 6.4 yards, and had the second-highest turnover-worthy play percentage of his career at 3.1%, the only year higher was his rookie year with a turnover-worthy play percentage of 5.5%. Yet he also had his highest adjusted completion percentage, coming in at 81.1% and his next highest is 74.8%. This is likely the result of not targeting as far down the field but is still positive. They selected Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and have to be hoping he can provide some stability. Evan Neal needs to take a strong step forward after a brutal 2022 campaign that saw him allow 39 pressures, and get called for seven penalties on 738 snaps. If Neal can take a step forward, the Giants will have a great tackle duo after a breakout season from Andrew Thomas.

Their defense offers a lot more to be excited about with Dexter Lawrence locking down the interior and having Kayvon Thibodeaux coming off the edge and sending his second year. Lawrence posted career highs in pressures and run stops with 63 and 38 respectively, and he did this while playing as a nose tackle 65.3% of the time. Whether you like, dislike, or are indifferent about Thibodeaux he had a strong year with 40 pressures himself and is poised to keep pace in his second season. They signed linebacker Bobby Okereke in free agency to fill a large void in the middle of their defense, and they have a solid corner in Adoree’ Jackson. Jackson can’t get it done by himself, and the Giants will expect Deonte Banks to make an impact immediately as a rookie.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are great at every spot that matters. They have the best tackle duo in the league with Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson. Jason Kelce has been aging like fine wine, Landon Dickerson has been a strong guard and the only question mark is Cam Jurgens stepping in at right guard. Jalen Hurts took a massive step forward, and while I don’t think being a top-five quarterback is in the cards for next season but top ten is almost a lock, barring injury. With a pass-catching group that includes AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert, the Eagles are primed to have their offense continue rolling next season.

Their defense is primed for another good year as well. They kept Darius Slay and James Bradberry after both had great years. They signed Terrell Edmunds in free agency, and undrafted free agent Reed Blankenship had a fine year in 2022. They’re gambling on their linebacking group, rolling with second-year player Nakobe Dean and likely some combination of Zach Cunningham and Nicholas Morrow. Their defensive line might be the deepest in the league. Brandon Graham is coming off an incredible year where he turned the clock back and posted 48 pressures on less than 300 pass-rushing snaps. Hasson Reddick is coming off 68 pressures, a career-high. Josh Sweat is coming off 48 pressures, and Derek Barnett is a 30-pressure rotation type of player. Their interior defensive line group is loaded as well with Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis, Milton Williams, and Fletcher Cox to mentor the group. Their Super Bowl run was not a fluke.

Washington Commanders

The Washington Commanders are that team that you just want to see do well after years of sucking, but can’t quite talk yourself into it happening now. Yes, they ended Baltimore’s ridiculous preseason win streak, but I can’t see them having much success in 2023. Their offensive line is bad at best, Charles Leno is a solid tackle but they’re bumping Sam Cosmi into guard and starting Andrew Wylie at right tackle. I don’t trust the interior of their offensive line after Chase Roullier’s retirement. Terry McLaurin is a great receiver, and Curtis Samuel is fine, but outside of that, I don’t see the upside. They’re taking a big gamble on Sam Howell, and are rostering Jacoby Brissett as the backup who had a strong year in 2022 in Cleveland.

Their defense is where the hope lies. They have a strong defensive line with Chase Young, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, and Montez Sweat. Kendall Fuller is an underrated corner who allowed a 55.6 competition percentage, the second lowest/best of his career. Benjamin St-Juste has struggled so far and Washington will be looking to first-round rookie Emmanuel Forbes to contribute early. Kamren Curl had a great 2022 year, but safeties can only do so much. Overall, I’m not sold on this Washington team getting a new owner and having their problems fixed. This roster still needs a lot of work. 

Final Prediction

It’s a battle between the Eagles and Cowboys for the division crown. The Giants are facing a regression year after massively overachieving in 2022, and Washington is still very far away from contending anytime soon. The only reality where Philadelphia doesn’t roll everyone in this division is if the injury bug brutalizes them as it has in the past.

Standings:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. Dallas Cowboys
  3. New York Giants
  4. Washington Commanders
You may also like
Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions Steal The Show During CFL Free Agency
Kyle Shanahan
Defending Kyle Shanahan Got A Lot Harder
Russell Wilson
The Denver Broncos Do Not Believe In Russell Wilson
New England Patriots Preview
Williams Watch & Enter Zappe – 2023 New England Patriots Preview Week 13