NFC East preview and predictions: Eagles soar to top of division

Steve Sarby previews NFC East as the Post gives a division-by-division breakdown ahead of the 2022 NFL season.

1. Philadelphia Eagles

coach: Nick Siriani

2021 record: 9-8

o/u wins: 9.5

pivot joint: WR AJ Brown, DE Haasan Reddick, CB James Bradberry, DT Jordan Davis, LB Nakobe Dean, LB Kajir White, S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, WR Zach Pascal, G Cam Jurgens

Major Departures: G Brandon Brooks, RB Jordan Howard, DE Ryan Kerrigan, CB Steven Nelson, S Rodney McLeod, DT Hassan Ridgeway, OLB Gerard Avery, LB Alex Singleton, WR Mack Hollins, LB Gennard Avery, WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR Jalen Rigor

First and goal: The trade for Brown who pairs him with WR Devonta Smith could be a godsend for lightning-rod quarterback Jalen Harts. Quez Watkins is a good WR3 and Dallas Goedert could be the top-five tight end. An elite o-line anchored by veteran c Jason Kels has been largely booked by LT Jordan Malata and athletic RT Len Johnson. RB Miles Sanders could flourish if he can stay on the field, although Kenneth Gainwell has better hands for the passing game and his eye on short-yardage and goal-line roles. Reddick (23.5 sacks last two seasons) upgrades to Pass Rush. DT Javon Hargrave (7.5 sacks) made his first Pro Bowl appearance. Davis, the first-round pick, is a rare 340-pound specimen called upon to shore up the run defense. DT Fletcher Cox returned on a one-year deal to provide the leadership. Sahaj White recorded 144 tackles with the Chargers last year. Gardner-Johnson upgraded the safety status to mediocre. Bradberry and CB Darius Slay are accomplished giants. Pain is dangerous as a runner. The QB Gardner Minshoo is a quality backup. The schedule is one of the easiest.

AJ Brown in action during the Eagles Precision Game.
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Fourth and Longer: The Hearts (61.3 percent) need to improve their accuracy and take a leap to see the Eagles enter the Super Bowl conversation. Pass Rush was ranked 29th last season.

Serbi says: 10-7. GM Howie Rosman crushed the off-season. Fly, Eagles, Fly.

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2. Dallas Cowboys

coach: Mike McCarthy

2021 record: 12-5

o/u wins: 9.5

pivot joint: WR Jalen Tolbert, OT Tyler Smith, WR James Washington, DE Dante Fowler Jr., OLB Anthony Barr, DE Sam Williams, WR-KR Kavonte Turpin

Major Departures: WR Amari Cooper, WR Cedric Wilson, OT L’El Collins, K Greg Zuerlein, DE Randy Gregory, TE Blake Jervin, S Demonte Kazee, G Connor Williams, S Keanu Neal

First and goal: OLB Micah Parsons (13 sacks as DROY) is eyeing 23 for a single-season sack record. DE DeMarcus Lawrence had his third Pro Bowl season with a fractured leg. Second-round pick Sam Williams looks like a hunter. It could be a good idea for Daniel Jones, Jalen Harts and Carson Wentz to avoid being thrown at CB Trayvon Diggs (11 INT). What if the Giants had drafted RG Jack Martin instead of Odell Beckham Jr.? RB Ezekiel Elliott is 27 years old and his career has touched 1,938, but it remains a double threat, especially if the more explosive backup Tony Pollard can carry the more weight. Dak Prescott (career-best 68.8 completion percentage and 37 TD pass) is another year away from a gruesome ankle injury and WR CeeDee Lamb is elite. WR Michael Gallup, due back soon from the ACL, is a deep threat and TE Dalton Schultz is a big target. DC Dan Quinn and OC Kellan Moore are highly regarded, as is Courageous Special Teams coordinator John Faisal.

Micah Parsons.
Micah Parsons plays defense against the San Francisco 49ers.
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Fourth and Longer: Jerry Jones no longer has a major O-line, especially with LT Tyron Smith, who has played 68 of the last 100 games, on the shelf until at least December. Rookie Tyler Smith is the presumptive starter. Cooper is in Cleveland, while rookie receiver Tolbert was better prepared to jump from south Alabama. McCarthy will again find himself in the hot seat if he again fields the most punished (127) team in the league. Lawrence needs Sam Williams as a bookend pass rusher when it won’t be Parsons. Center and right tackle positions are mediocre. The kicker is a concern.

Serbi says: 9-8. The Boys haven’t won Lombardi since Super Bowl 30. What can go wrong will be wrong.

3. Washington Commanders

coach: ron rivera

2021 record: 7-10

o/u wins: 7.5

pivot joint: QB Carson Wentz, WR Jahan Dotson, G Trai Turner, G Andrew Norwell, DT Phidarian Mathis, RB Brian Robinson, S Percy Butler, QB Sam Howell, TE Cole Turner, DE Efe Obada, WR Alex Erickson

Major Departures: g Brandon Sherf, g Erek Flowers, d Landon Collins, dt Tim Settle, dt Matt Ioannidis, WR-KR DeAndre Carter, QB Kyle Allen

Carson Wentz.
Carson Wentz looks on during the presidency.
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First and goal: Wentz should upgrade over Taylor Heinicke, but his confidence and decision-making falter. The creepy Terry McLaurin is his $71 million go-to guy. RB Antonio Gibson is a double threat from 1,000 yards even with his faltering woes. JD McKissic is a dangerous third-down back. Five-time pro bowler Trai Turner replaced Sheref. DE Chase Young is in rehab (ACL) and won’t be available soon, but when he does return, he will be joined by Bookend Montez Sweat and DTs Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne on an elite front four. In the secondary are CB Kendall Fuller and S Kamren Curl. The kicking game is solid with the big-legged P Tres Way and PK Joy Sly. The victory percentage of opponents in the previous season was .462.

Fourth and Longer: Young (knee) will miss the first four weeks. The Colts left out Wentz, who was done with the playoffs on the line. remember? Can WR Curtis Samuels return from injury in 2021? Can TE Logan Thomas Coming Back From His Torn ACL? Carter has taken on the Chargers on his 8.4 yards per punt return and 25.1 yards of kick returns. Who takes his place? The less said about owner Dan Snyder, the better.

Serbi says: 8-9. We’ve seen the best of Carson Wentz.

4. New York Giants

Saxon Barclay.
Saquon Barkley engages in some presidential work.
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coach: Brian Daboli

2021 record: 4-13

o/u wins: 6.5

pivot joint: OLB Kevon Thibodaux, OT Evan Neill, WR Van’Dell Robinson, QB Tyrod Taylor, C John Feliciano, G Mark Glowinsky, RB Matt Breeda, G Max Garcia, TE Daniel Bellinger, P Jamie Gillan, de Jihad Ward

Major Departures: CB James Bradberry, S Jabril Peppers, TE Kyle Rudolph, QB Mike Glennon, QB Jake Fromm, RB Devonte Booker, LB Lorenzo Carter, P Riley Dixon, TE Evan Engram, G Will Hernandez, NT Danny Shelton, T Nate Solder

First and long: If Saquon Barkley can stay healthy, he can catch 91 passes again. LT Andrew Thomas is climbing. Safety Xavier McKinney has the Pro Bowl written over it. WR Kadarius Toney can break ankles in open ground if he can stay on that open ground. Dabol’s offense will get the best of QB Daniel Jones. Robinson is a jitterbug. You would love to play with DC Wink Martindale against him. Thibodaux and Aziz Ojullari have a chance of having a near-rush terror and can help Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence. Graham Gano is a career 84 percent field-goal kicker. Backup QB Tyrod Taylor is far better insurance than Glennon and Froome.

Fourth and Longer: The future is now for Jones. or never. O-line would be better, but let’s not call it a fix. RT Neil is a savior, but the pain will keep increasing. Is WR Kenny Golladay playing Possession or what? Can WR Sterling Shepard stay healthy? It would be nice if Mark Bavaro could come out of retirement, but it looks like Bellinger at TE. CB Aaron Robinson opposite Adori Jackson is a work in progress. Is the left foot an upgrade on Gillan Dixon?

Serbi says: 7-10. Year 1 of the new regime. At least they won’t be viewable.

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