The Giants made some big changes heading into the 2019 season — the obvious being the departure of stars like Odell Beckham Jr., Landon Collins, and Olivier Vernon. But despite those losses, the Giants are confident that their change will be for the better starting this year.
Will it be enough to fight for an NFC East division title?
Many know how tough the NFC East can be, with no team winning the division in back-to-back seasons since the Eagles won four straight from 2001-2004. The Cowboys were the winners last season at 10-6, but can they repeat?
Let’s see where the Giants sit on the list heading into training camp in a couple weeks…
1. Philadelphia Eagles — 2018 record: 9-7 (Wild Card)
Coming off their Super Bowl LII win a season ago, the Eagles could break that NFC East streak. However, Nick Foles did lead them to a Wild Card Game win over the Bears. They almost beat the first-seeded Saints on the road in New Orleans, but came out with a loss after a costly Alshon Jeffrey loss.
Foles won’t be under center for Philly this year, though. He will try to lead the Jaguars, but that doesn’t matter with Carson Wentz back and fully healthy. When he is on the field, Wentz is the best quarterback in the NFC East. And he has a new weapon to work with in Desean Jackson, who makes his return to the Eagles alongside Alshon Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor.
On the other side of the ball, the Eagles lose Michael Bennett to the Patriots, but Derek Barnett — who impressed in his rookie season — will come back healthy. They also added defensive tackle Malik Jackson, a big upgrade to an already stout defensive line. The Eagles’ secondary will also hope for health, as they struggled under the injury bug last season. Young, aggressive players like Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, and Sidney Jones to go along with incumbent Malcom Jenkins and Rodney McLeod as the last line of defense is a solid group to have.
The Eagles are the most well-rounded group, and on paper, should be the favorite heading into the season.
2. Dallas Cowboys — 2018 record: 10-6 (Division winner)
The Cowboys edged out the Eagles in the division race, but still had a tough challenge against the Seahawks in the Wild Card round. They came away with a victory, but the eventual NFC Champion-Rams took them down in LA to end their season.
Heading into the new year, the biggest sigh of relief comes from no suspension to Ezekiel Elliott following his altercation with police during Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas. The Cowboys loved Elliott on the field for 15 games last season, where he was the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,434 yards on 304 attempts. The offense, called by Dak Prescott, runs through Zeke’s production, and should see the same thing this season.
But one of Prescott’s top targets in Cole Beasley finds himself in a Bills jersey this season. The Cowboys did make an addition in Randall Cobb, though, and he’s looking to have a bounce-back year after being injured in Green Bay. Michael Gallup is expected to make a leap from his rookie season, and Amari Cooper still sits as Prescott’s No. 1 option after building their chemistry in 2018 following his trade from the Raiders. And Jason Witten even came out of retirement to play in his 16th season.
The defense, which was the best in the division last year, may have gotten better. Robert Quinn is the biggest addition to the group, which will be a big 1-2 punch with Demarcus Lawrence opposite him on the line. Led by Jaylen Smith and Leighton Vander Esch in the middle, the front seven might be one of the scariest in the league. The secondary, then, will be the biggest question. Chidobe Awuzie and Byron Jones showed solid coverage last season, but they can be streaky.
The Cowboys could easily repeat their title in the NFC East, but will have a tough test against Philly.
3. New York Giants — 2018 record: 5-11
No. 3 and No. 4 in the division are interchangeable, but any team with Saquon Barkley on it shouldn’t be at the bottom of the division. The Giants did finish last in 2018, but the rookie Barkley jolted himself into the conversation as the best running back in the league during that span.
The biggest change to the Giants is their offensive line, which should give Eli Manning more time to work with finally. Adding Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers on the right side to go along with Nate Solder and Will Hernandez on the left should make for a solid group. Beckham is gone, but Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard can be a dynamic duo to work with Barkley in the passing game. And don’t sleep on Evan Engram, who is looking for a bounce-back year with injuries preventing him from getting into a rhythm.
The other side of the ball is a big question mark for this group. The Giants secondary made some improvements, but it won’t show if a pass rush is non-existent like last season. Big Blue added DT Dexter Lawrence with their No. 17 overall pick, but he is more of a run-stuffing, Damon Harrison-type player. Shane Ximines, a third-rounder out of Old Dominion was their only defensive end pickup, while Markus Golden joins James Bettcher again after his days in Arizona.
The Giants are betting a lot on Golden to replicate his 12.5-sack season in 2016, and Lorenzo Carter to make a jump up to a top pass rusher. Odds are that doesn’t cut it, so the defense should be the worry for Giants fans this season. The offense is built to put up points, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Giants have a lot to prove.
4. Washington Redskins — 2018 record: 7-9
The Redskins were in the division hunt early on in the season, after a 6-3 start put them on the map. But unfortunately they fell off the tracks after Alex Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury against the Texans in Week 11. From there, the Skins went 1-6 as their quarterback depth couldn’t get the offense going.
And that situation is still continuing heading into camp, which is why they are slightly lower than the Giants in these rankings. Case Keenum comes in looking to solidify a job after a failed transition to the Broncos from the Vikings. Colt McCoy is also in the running, but Washington’s No. 15 overall pick in Dwayne Haskins will have everyone watching to see if he can beat out the two veterans for the starting role.
But these quarterbacks still don’t have much to work with in the passing game. Paul Richardson is the No. 1 receiver with Josh Doctson still hoping to prove his first-round selection. Ohio State’s Terry McLaurin is expected to jump right into the starting rotation after joining his Buckeye teammate in Haskins. The running game, though, should remain strong with Derrius Guice returning from his ACL injury to work alongside Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson.
On defense, Washington still has a powerful front line led by Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne. They also added swift rookie Montez Sweat to the group, and of course, Ryan Kerrigan is in the mix. The secondary also made a big pickup in Landon Collins to lead the way at safety. But the Skins’ corners, which includes Josh Norman, is still a big question mark.
If the Redskins can get solid quarterback play this season, they could knock the Giants down in the division. For now, though, that uncertainty is the reason why they sit at the bottom of the pack.