IN the week leading up to kickoff for the 2017 NFL season, it’s time to break down each of the 32 teams preparing for the upcoming season. As we hurtle closer each day to the season opener check out the division by division primers to find out where your team is heading in the upcoming season!

AFC East Preview

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Dallas Cowboys

The 2017 Dallas Cowboys Will…
…MISS the playoffs. A season after posting an NFC best 13-3 thanks to star rookie duo Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, Dallas seems poised to slide as the rest of the NFC catches up this season with their division rivals hot on their heels. With ‘Zeke’ suspended for the first six games and Prescott officially handed the starting reigns, the Cowboys will be hoping their defense can help them remain a threat in the playoff race.

2017 NFL Preview - NFC East 1Image from mysanantonio.com

Breakout Candidate: Maliek Collins, DT
THE Nebraskan third round pick had a fine season on the defensive line for Dallas last year, and if their defense is going to help keep them in SuperBowl contention, Collins needs to take the next step. After 14 starts and five sacks last year, it’s not unfathomable to see Collins become an elite pass rusher and help buoy the Cowboys on defense.

MVP: Dak Prescott, QB
WITH ‘Zeke’ sidelined the pressure is squarely on Dak Prescott to produce from day one in season 2017. The Cowboys open by hosting the Giants, then visit the Broncos and Cardinals before hosting the Rams and Packers. It’s realistic that they could be sitting at 1-4 after those games, but if Prescott pulls it together three or four wins could very well be achievable. Those first five games will dictate the season for Dallas. Your move Dak.

Record: 9-7
IF Elliott was in uniform for the full slate of games then there is a chance that they could replicate another killer season. Without him though I think a slow start will see Dallas trying to play catch up for the rest of the year. Without a lot of veteran presence in their secondary, they could struggle to stop quarterbacks with a decent arm. Not a good recipe for success in a division with Eli Manning, Carson Wentz and Kirk Cousins.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington RedskinsImage from beargoggleson.com

New York Giants

The 2017 New York Giants Will…
…WIN the division. With a pass catching squad to rival the rest of the league it should be easy for the 4x Pro Bowler and 2x SuperBowl MVP in Eli Manning to find them with regularity. After spending big last offseason their defense came to the party helping the Giants to own one of the best defensive units in the league. While they might not be the same dominant group from last year, I’m still expecting them to produce at a high level.

Breakout Candidate: Paul Perkins, RB
RUNNING back has been a spot of bother for the Giants in the past. With Rashard Jennings delisted after putting up over 2,000 yards in three years the No. 1 spot in the depth chart is up for grabs. He only put up a small sample size, but at times last season Perkins looked like the better back on the Giants roster and will undoubtedly have a bigger piece of the pie this season.

MVP: Landon Collins, SS
A stellar 2016 year saw Landon Collins challenge for Defensive Player of the Year honours with four sacks, five interceptions and 13 passes defended. Many may think that Odell Beckham claims the MVP honours, but there is no doubt that Collins is a serious playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. Should he produce a similar 2017 then New York’s defense will once again dominate.

Record: 10-6
ELI Manning dropping off at the age of 36 would definitely derail any chance of success the Giants have next season. With most people tipping them to take a step backwards though I’m going all in on the Giants for a deep playoff run and to contend for the Lombardi trophy this year. I may end up with egg on my face, but New York will find a way out of the toughest NFC division and challenge their conference rivals for a spot at the big dance.

Philadelphia Eagles

The 2017 Philadelphia Eagles Will…
…FLUCTUATE week in, week out before ultimately fighting for one of the final wild card spots. Some seem uncertain over whether the Eagles can return to the postseason or not with a somewhat mediocre cast and a young QB still developing. Their defense has the potential to win half a dozen games off their own back, so if LeGarrette Blount and Alshon Jeffery can help the offense make the leap, Philly can cause some headaches.

Breakout Candidate: Carson Wentz, QB
TO begin last year, Wentz didn’t look like a pro football virgin, rather the former North Dakota State play caller seemed poised and experienced helping the Eagles get wins over playoff bound squads in Dallas and New York. The rest of the season however, panned out as expected with Wentz’s yo-yo performances channelling what you should expect from a rook.

MVP: Fletcher Cox, DT
FLETCHER Cox started to etch his name into elite defensive tackle territory in 2015 but followed up his groundbreaking campaign with an average season last year. Still, the dual Pro Bowler managed 6.5 sacks and claimed honours as September’s Defensive Player of the Month. Cox can help set the example for an Eagles defense ready to take the league by storm.

Record: 9-7
ONE of the best defensive lines in the league should help lead Philadelphia to a better record than their 7-9 finish last year. Throw in some established offensive players to a young squad and you have a team that could overachieve and heck, even challenge for the NFC crown. This time next year we may have the Eagles as a SuperBowl favourite out of the West, but for now they remain a sleeper pick with their destiny handcuffed to Carson Wentz’s success.

Washington Redskins

The 2017 Washington Redskins Will…
…FINISH at the bottom of the NFC East. I just can’t see Kirk Cousins leading this group to a finish higher than fourth in the toughest NFC division. After investing in more physically gifted players Washington has the talent to be better than their 8-7-1 output from a season ago. It won’t be enough to boost them out of the bottom rung in the NFC East though.

Washington Redskins Training CampImage from riggosrag.com

Breakout Candidate: Jamison Crowder, WR
THE addition of Pryor will help, but after losing two 1,000 yard receivers in Garcon and Jackson, the pressure is on Jamison Crowder to produce in year three. He lifted from a respectable rookie season to put up over 800 yards with seven TD’s last year and should feature on the end of gunslinger Cousins’ passes with regularity.

MVP: Jordan Reed, TE
WHEN healthy Jordan Reed has illustrated how dominant he can be. Unfortunately for Washington, he hasn’t been able to stay 100% fit to date, playing just 46 of a possible 64 games in his career to date. He showcased his potential as a top tight end in 2015 and if healthy Reed could very well lead his positional group in receiving yards and touchdowns.

Record: 6-10
GOOD news Redskin fans, there are plenty of pieces that signify your team is well poised for the future. The bad news? Outside of those 6-10 players there’s isn’t a lot of talent on the rest of the roster, thus equally a six win season. A tough stretch in the middle of the year could change their fortunes for better or worse, but injuries haven’t been their friend in the past and if one of their blue chippers goes down, so does their position in the standings.

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