NFC East Preview: Can Eagles be first repeat champ since 2004?

Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, center, stands with defensive end Brandon Graham (55) offensive tackle Lane Johnson (65), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, and center Jason Kelce (62) after the NFC Championship NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 31-7. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

It has been quite some time since the NFC East has found itself a repeat champion. Could 2023 be the year that the drought finally ends?

As of this moment, Philadelphia reigns supreme with plenty of confidence going into the new season. That being said, the NFC East is back to its dominant ways and the three other teams will want nothing more than to usurp the champs.

Can the Cowboys, Giants, and Commanders get it done? We go through each team and their legitimacy to wear the NFC East crown this year. First up, are the champs.

Philadelphia Eagles

Odds to win the NFC East: -135

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As past champions go, the Eagles will certainly have a better chance at repeating than other teams in the division do at winning. They return a majority of their starting offense, have upgraded at key coaching jobs, and are healthy heading into the new season. A tougher schedule means there’ll certainly be more hiccups in their way, but they are a talented team that seems to be in the right mindset for another title run.

Why they’ll win the NFC East

They have the best quarterback in the division and the best all-around talent on the roster. Jalen Hurts has become a superstar with plenty of top targets at his disposal. If the team were to win the division again, they’d need to have Hurts continue to ascend in his play while making sure key positions are healthy throughout the year. They would also need their young Georgia defensive players to stand out quickly, but they are all strong enough to see that happening.

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Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick reacts following an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the New York Giants, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 38-7. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Why they won’t win the NFC East

Injury luck rarely moves from year to year. Philadelphia was one of the least injured teams in the league last year and that is sure to change in 2023. Outside of that, the team lost five starters on their top defensive unit the year before and should be in line for some regression, especially early in the year. With how talented the rest of the division is, even a small slip-up would be enough to lose the team out on the division title. A 7-1 record in one-score games will certainly be flipped at some point this year as well.

Dallas Cowboys

Odds to win the NFC East: +195

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Not many teams in NFL history win 12 games in back-to-back years. The Cowboys are one of those organizations though with another successful season for them. I say ” for them” because, although they saw great regular season success, they were, once again, bounced from the playoffs due to poor play-calling and bad execution. Dallas upgraded in key spots this offseason and should be chomping at the bit to finally end their near 30-year drought of never reaching the Conference Championship Game.

Why they’ll win the NFC East

Much like the Eagles in 2022, the Cowboys upgraded their roster heading into the new season in a lot of different ways. Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks are now with the team and Mike McCarthy is now the play-caller on offense. It seems that he’ll let Dak Prescott run more of the show in 2023 with a more balanced offensive approach. Their schedule is certainly tougher but they have arguably the best defense in the division as well. They will be a hardout in the NFC East.

Why they won’t win the NFC East

It’s all on Prescott now. Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper are gone, the defense is championship-level, and there are plenty of weapons on offense to compete with Philadelphia. Unfortunately, Prescott has come up small time and time again, he almost reminds you of Tony Romo without the embarrassing reactions. Prescott needs a top year in 2023 or else contract negotiations will only get more difficult. It also doesn’t help the Cowboys traded for Trey Lance in a bizarre move that will only have Dak looking over his shoulder some more.

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 22: Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott (4) looks to pass in the second half during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles on December 22, 2019 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

New York Giants

Odds to win the NFC East: +900

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New York was the big surprise from the 2022 season. Behind first-year head coach Brian Daboll, the Giants found a clutch gene and won their first playoff game in over a decade in Minnesota. Sure, they got absolutely pounded by Philadelphia in the very next round, but they looked to turn the corner as a team that year as a whole. Add in the fact that they upgraded the receiver position in droves while adding a top linebacker and the Giants are far more talented than they were in 2022.

Why they’ll win the NFC East

New York lacked true weapons on the outside and that’s why they fell short against Dallas and Philadelphia. The acquisitions of Darren Waller and Parris Campbell will sure to even the playing field in 2023. Outside of that, Daboll and the coaching staff have shown the ability to have their team prepared for any situation. It’s not far-fetched to say the Giants have the second-best coach in the division right now. If Daniel Jones continues to improve, Big Blue will certainly have a chance at the crown this year.

Why they won’t win the NFC East

The Giants were 8-4-1 in one-score games and had some incredible late-minute wins. Whether it was Tennessee missing a makeable field goal at the end of the first week, or improbably comebacks against the Ravens and Packers, the G-Men were insanely clutch last year. That may not happen in 2023. The team is more talented, but second-year coaches who get to the playoffs their first year are known to have some form of sophomore slumps at times. In Giants’ history, the three coaches in the Super Bowl era to make the playoffs their first year did not return the year after. Ben McAdoo, Dan Reeves, and Jim Fassell all struggled in Year 2.

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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) throws a pass as New York Giants linebacker Jihad Ward (55) tries to rush in on him during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Washington Commanders

Odds to win the NFC East: +1300

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A new quarterback has manned the controls in the nation’s capital. Sam Howell looked strong throughout the preseason and joins a strong cast of weapons that could certainly shake up the entire division. Is it enough to usurp the Eagles or Cowboys as top dogs? Time will only tell but this is a big year for the organization with new ownership looking to make their mark on the franchise.

Why they’ll win the NFC East

It’s not a popular opinion, but the Commanders’ skill guys are just as talented as any other organization in the NFC East. With Eric Bienemy at the helm of the offense, that will surely also infuse a spark in the group. Their defensive line is still insanely talented with plenty to have to worry about. Some specific things will need to be right for them to win the division, but the Commanders are certainly better than they were a year ago.

Why they won’t win the NFC East

As good a play-caller as Eric Bienemy is, and as strong a start Sam Howell had last year, this group is very weak in a couple of key areas. The offensive line has plenty of major holes and the secondary is a problem. Emmanuel Forbes, the team’s first-round pick has looked good, but he’s not enough to transform this secondary in one season. They are favorites to finish last in the East for a reason, and we don’t even need to bring up the very real idea that Howell may not be the guy either.

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Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins (16) carries the ball against Washington Commanders safety Bobby McCain (20) during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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