NFC East Power Rankings: Injuries run rampant as division looks to change course in 2022

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NFC East Power Rankings
FILE – Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) leaves the field following an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022. Smith is expected to return at some point during the 2022-23 season after sustaining a torn left hamstring that also injured that knee. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022, that he wasn’t sure if Smith’s injury would require surgery, but that the eight-time Pro Bowler should return late in the season. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins, File)

The NFC East has been one of the worst divisions in the league since the start of the 2010s. While the division has seen two Super Bowl champions during this time, mediocre teams have been a constant stream of inefficiency for the once great division power. 

As the 2022 season creeps ever so closer, the NFC East seems to be on the right track to regaining its former glory of top football. 

The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys are looking to expand on their one-and-done playoff seasons from the year before, the Commanders have a new name and quarterback, while the Giants are in the early stages of an aggressive rebuild. 

Yet part of the division’s instability is the fact there hasn’t been a repeat champion in over 18 years. 

Will there be a repeat champion in the division this year? Or will a new team rise up and take over the crown of best in the NFC East? 

Before the 2022 season kicks off though, it’s time to take stock just of where each team stands on the NFC East totem pole. 

4. New York Giants

The Giants will not be as bad as their 2021 season was. Joe Judge and Dave Gettleman’s stench has left the organization for good and Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll are trying to pick up the pieces on what has been a disastrous few seasons. 

There are some positives to take a look at for 2022. The two young tackles could pair up nicely down the stretch and help solidify an offensive line that’s been desperate for talent for the better part of the decade. The receiving core along is the deepest it’s been in quite some time, and the defensive line is a couple of pieces away from drawing comparisons to the championship teams of the late 2000s. 

Still, there are far more questions surrounding this current team. Danie Jones and the interior offensive line are major question marks, the cap space is in dire need of fixing, and the corners are a mess. The Giants aren’t expected to wake up and be a playoff team this year but the foundations are being built to one day compete in an unstable NFC East. 

3. Washington Commanders

What a confusing football team. Of course, that can be said for the last 40 years of football in the nation’s capital. The Commanders weren’t bad last season but missed the playoffs at 7-10. Ron Rivera has brought stability to a club full of off-the-field distractions from their owner and prior management. The trade for Carson Wentz is an upgrade over Taylor Heinicke and could vault Washington to a potential playoff spot as well. 

There are still concerns though for the NFC East pariah. The offensive line isn’t as dominant as it once was, the defense outside of their front four is a mess, and the question of which Wentz will show up will ultimately determine each game for the Commanders. People also forget that while Ron Rivera is a very good man and good at setting a culture, he hasn’t had a winning season as a coach since 2017. 

How Carson Wentz looks will ultimately determine if the Commanders are good this season, or if they are looking for new staff in 2022. 

2. Philadelphia Eagles

There hasn’t been a team in football who has done more to improve their roster over the offseason than Philadelphia. The Eagles took a 9-7 upstart team and completely revamped it with loaded offensive weapons like AJ Brown, and defensive specialists like Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Haason Reddick. Solid draft steals like Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean also look to help the team early in 2022. 

On paper, this is the most talented team in the NFC East. The Eagles have the best offensive and defensive lines in the division, their skill groups are among the best and their former weakest points no longer exist. 

That doesn’t mean they are without questions and concerns though. 

Jalen Hurts’ performance will ultimately determine just how far the Eagles go in the NFC East, and beyond. The young quarterback had to have coaches change the entire offense in 2021 to save the season, and it led to a playoff berth. But a mere playoff game won’t be good enough to keep his job in 2022. If Hurts plays like a top 15 quarterback, the Eagles will win the NFC East going away.

1. Dallas Cowboys

Until someone in this division beats Dak Prescott the Cowboys will be ranked first among everyone in the NFC East. 

The Cowboy’s seventh-year quarterback has a 25-6 record against the NFC East and has three division championships to boot. Of course, three division titles in seven seasons is a bit confusing considering his record, but he was hurt in 2020, and the Cowboys have had monumental collapses to Philadelphia in the past. 

The Cowboys also have gotten weaker. Amari Cooper was traded for less than the cost of Jalen Reagor in Philadelphia, Randy Gregory spurred Dallas to sign with Denver, and the offensive line has already been ravaged by injuries. But they still have Micah Parsons, Ceedee Lamb, and Trevon Diggs. 

If the defense improves even a little bit, the Cowboys will be in the driver’s seat for the NFC East crown. A bad defense won’t make up for the offense’s losses in the offseason. 

It’ll come down to the play of Dak Prescott, but until the rest of the NFC East starts beating him, the Cowboys will begin the season in the #1 spot. 

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