FPC NFL Predicts the NFC and AFC East

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Aug 16, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) meets Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) after the game at Gillette Stadium. Patriots defeated the Eagle 37-20. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-NFL USA TODAY Sports
Aug 16, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) meets Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) after the game at Gillette Stadium. Patriots defeated the Eagle 37-20. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

One preseason game in the books, so we are just a few short weeks from NFL opening day. In the meantime, Full Press NFL continues its series predicting the outcomes of each division. Today, Cardinals editor Ryan Adverderada and Vikings editor Sam Smith preview the NFC and AFC East.

Read previous editions in the series here:

AFC and NFC North

AFC and NFC South

NFC East

Ryan Adverderada

  1. Dallas
  2. Philadelphia
  3. Washington 
  4. New York

The Cowboys and Eagles will be fighting it out for the division title. On paper, the teams are even at nearly every position. However, the Eagles have shown an ability to win big games, while the Cowboys have been inconsistent. It will come down to who is healthiest at key positions. Dallas needs to ride the ground game and take advantage of a defense growing into something special. The Eagles hope to have a healthy Carson Wentz for a full season.

The bottom of the division is a battle between Washington and New York. Washington drafted Dwayne Haskins in the first round of April’s draft. However, head coach Jay Gruden has declared Colt McCoy as the starter heading into the season. The offense could struggle as left tackle, Trent Williams, continues his holdout. Losing someone of Williams’ ability is often a death-knell for an offense. The Giants are heading into the season with Eli Manning, after drafting his replacement in the first round, back in April. Significant losses on both sides of the football point to another difficult season for the Giants. The press will have a field day.

Sam Smith

  1. Philadelphia
  2. Dallas
  3. Washington
  4. New York

Like Ryan, I see this as a division split down the middle: two playoff contenders, two basement-dwellers. However, I see the playoff contenders on different planes of potential. Philadelphia has shown they can make the postseason and even make a deep run with only adequate quarterback play. That is how stout their roster on the whole is. So imagine if they get 2017 Carson Wentz for a full season and a full playoff run. For me, that is the best team in the conference and my pick to make the Super Bowl. Dallas, while certainly exciting on defense and with some pop offensively, lacks the firepower of Philadelphia. As such, I see them as a nine- or 10-win team and in the wild card hunt more than the division hunt.

Washington and New York should jockey for the bottom spot simply by nature of Washington’s significant quarterback questions this year, but to me it is clear which team is headed in a better direction. Washington’s overall roster is better on paper, their defense was in the top half of the NFL last season and they drafted, for my money, the better quarterback. The Giants have finally decided that Manning is not going to be around forever, but they have still built this season for him to start. Unless Saquon Barkley turns in an MVP-like 2,500-plus yards from scrimmage season, the Giants should finish last in the division, regardless of who quarterbacks Washington.

AFC East

Ryan Adverderada

  1. New England Patriots
  2. New York Jets
  3. Buffalo Bills
  4. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins hired away Brian Flores from the Patriots. Miami shows all the signs of a rebuild and a possible contender for the “Tank for Tua” sweepstakes. The Dolphins have quarterbacks Ryan Fitzgerald and Josh Rosen battling for the starting job. Neither has taken hold of the job. Buffalo added Frank Gore to an already crowded running back room. Josh Allen enters his second season and will need to prove he can win games with his arm in addition to his legs. If the wide receiver group can continue to progress, the additions of John Brown and Cole Beasley could speed up the rebuild by a season or two.

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The Jets made a splash with the hiring of Adam Gase as their new head coach. Crazy-eye memes aside, the Jets have an exciting young roster. The defensive line has the potential to be elite, while the back end benefits from safety Jamal Adams’ presence. Offensively, the Jets hope injuries are kinder in 2019. Second-year quarterback Sam Darnold showed glimpses of a franchise quarterback in 2018. If the offense can find consistency, the Jets could contend for the second wild-card spot. Is it possible to make a legitimate case for the Patriots not winning this division? No. New England spent their first-round pick on wide receiver N’Keal Harry out of Arizona State. The receiver is the type of athlete outside receiver the team has lacked since Randy Moss left. Barring a significant injury to Tom Brady, New England should be the favorite to return to the AFC Championship game.

Sam Smith

  1. New England Patriots
  2. New York Jets
  3. Buffalo Bills
  4. Miami Dolphins

At least this year, for once, it looks like another team in the division is within shouting distance of competing with the Patriots. The Jets are building a fairly strong core of young talent, headlined by Darnold. He was shaky last season, but the flashes point to the potential for a star leap in year two. However, it is the front line on defense that should draw eyes. Quinnen Williams next to Leonard Williams and Nathan Shepherd moving forward, now with C.J. Mosley behind them, makes a potentially lethal combination. With some added weapons and Ryan Kalil at center, perhaps the offense can make the leap alongside an exciting, if underperforming, defense.

All that having been said, does anyone doubt the Patriots take this again? The Jets and Bills are at least a year away from truly competing, despite putting some good talent around their young quarterbacks. They may push the Patriots in the sense that they will hang around or slightly above .500 for the duration. But Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are a perpetually 12-4 team. They are the overwhelming favorites in this division, probably the conference and maybe the NFL, as long as Brady continues defying Father Time. As for Miami, they are the team to beat early on in the race for the number one overall pick. Unless Josh Rosen makes huge steps in year two, they look to be the most rebuilding team in the NFL.

– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Cardinals. Like and follow on and Facebook.

–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.

 Follow @fpc_vikings and Follow @fpc_nfl

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