In the last six years, all four teams in the NFC East have captured the division title. But only the New York Giants in 2011 went on to play — and win — a Super Bowl.
The Washington Redskins won the East in 2012 and 2015, the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 and the Dallas Cowboys in 2014 and 2016. All but the Eagles finished with a winning record a year ago — and Philadelphia was breaking in a rookie quarterback. But so were the Cowboys, who ran away with the division with Dak Prescott taking the snaps with a 13-3 record.
The East has not had a repeat winner since Philadelphia, which won four straight from 2001 through 2004. Can the Cowboys repeat in 2017? That’s the topic of this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll — who wins the NFC East? Here are your four options … and contenders:
Dallas Cowboys. That 13-3 record a year ago gave the Cowboys the top seed in the NFC playoff bracket, only to lose at home to Green Bay in the NFC semifinals. The Cowboys finished fifth in the NFL in offense and 14th in defense. They were at the best when the ball was on the ground. Dallas led the NFC in rushing and led the NFL in run defense. Lacking sacks and takeaways a year ago, the Cowboys invested in defense in the draft, taking pass rusher Taco Charlton in the first round and cornerbacks in the second (Chidobe Awuzie) and third (Jourdan Lewis) rounds. Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott finished 1-2 in the voting for the NFL Rookie of the Year, and both will be a year better in 2017. Elliott led the NFL in rushing by 300 yards and scored a conference-leading 16 touchdowns.
New York Giants. The Giants finished 11-5 last season to return to the playoffs after a four-year absence. New York finished 25th in the NFL in offense but 10th in defense. The inability to run the ball hurt the Giants, who finished 29th in the NFL in rushing and all but eliminated Eli Manning’s play-action game. Unlike everyone else in the division, the draft focus for the Giants was on offense. They took tight end Evan Engram in the first round and quarterback Davis Webb, now the heir apparent to Manning, in the third. The Giants cut their leading rusher, Rashad Jennings, and also former Pro Bowl wide receiver Victor Cruz. With Jennings gone, the Giants are all in on young Paul Perkins as their feature back on offense.
Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles invested the 2016 season in rookie quarterback Carson Wentz and paid the price, finishing 7-9. Philadelphia ranked 22nd in the NFL in offense but 13th in defense. Wentz lacked offensive playmakers a year ago, so the Eagles went out and got him some, signing veteran Pro Bowl wide receiver Alshon Jeffery away from the Bears and tailback LaGarrette Blount away from the Super Bowl champion Patriots. The Eagles used the draft to address defensive shortcomings, selecting pass rusher Derek Walker from Tennessee in the first round and two covermen, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas, in the second and third rounds. Jones may not be available this season, though, as he recovers from an Achilles injury.
Washington Redskins. The Redskins failed to defend their 2015 NFC East championship, finishing 8-7-1. Offense wasn’t the problem as Kirk Cousins threw for almost 5,000 yards, and the Redskins finished third in passing. But Washington couldn’t defend, allowing a division-high 383 points and finishing 28th in the NFL in defense. The Redskins lost DeSean Jackson, one of Cousins’ favorite targets, to Tampa Bay in free agency but replace him with Terrelle Pryor, a 1,000-yard receiver himself with the Browns last season. Washington also may have stolen a running back in the fourth round, selecting Samaje Perine, the all-time leading rusher at Oklahoma. The defensive upgrades came in the draft – end Jonathan Allen in the first round, OLB Ryan Anderson in the second round and CB Fabian Moreau in the third.