1. DALLAS COWBOYS
2019 RECORD: 8-8
KEY ADDITIONS: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S), CeeDee Lamb (WR), Aldon Smith (DE)
KEY LOSSES: Byron Jones (CB), Maliek Collins (DT), Jason Witten (TE), Jamize Olawale (FB, opted out)
FORMULA FOR 2020: “Dak + Attack = The Boys are Back”
New head coach Mike McCarthy has plenty to work with here. We start with QB Dak Prescott, who in 2019 had his most productive season since his rookie campaign. Now under the team’s franchise tag, Prescott will be looking to prove his worth to team owner Jerry Jones. The offense will be loaded, with Zeke Elliott at RB, a still-top level offensive line, and an exciting receiving corps that has been bolstered by unexpected draft pick CeeDee Lamb. On defense, McCarthy has brought in Mike Nolan to upgrade the Cowboys’ attack. In 21 years as a HC or DC, Nolan’s defenses have finished in the top 10 in takeaways 10 times. There is no reason to doubt this team’s ability to contend for the NFC championship.
2. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
2019 RECORD: 9-7
KEY ADDITIONS: Jason Hargrave (DT), Darius Slay (CB)
KEY LOSSES: Jason Peters (T), Jordan Howard (RB), Nelson Agholor (WR), Marquise Goodwin (WR, opted out)
FORMULA FOR 2020: “Good Health + Good Schedule = Good Opportunity”
There are so many question marks for this Eagles team. Front and center is QB Carson Wentz, who had an up-and-down season in 2019. How much of that was because of injuries to his receiving corps? The Eagles brought in Marquise Goodwin from the San Francisco 49ers, but he opted out of the coming season due to COVID-19 concerns. Wentz will have the benefit of perhaps the league’s top TE tandem in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, and the O-line is also top tier. The Eagles also have the eighth-easiest schedule in the NFL. This is a team that is gunning for its fourth-straight postseason appearance. They’ll be in the playoff hunt, but don’t be surprised if these Eagles are grounded when the playoffs begin.
3. NEW YORK GIANTS
2019 RECORD: 4-12
KEY ADDITIONS: James Bradberry (CB), Andrew Thomas (OT)
KEY LOSSES: Eli Manning (QB), Markus Golden (EDGE)
FORMULA FOR 2020: “Not Experienced + Not Proven = Not Ready”
Of the many variables that will determine the Giants’ level of success in 2020, item number one is the development of second-year QB Daniel Jones. Last season, Jones displaced veteran Eli Manning as the team’s starter, and the results were most positive. Jones threw for 3,027 yards (61.9%), 24 TDs and 12 picks. More importantly, he often displayed the Eli-like confident and ability to make big plays. Of course, Jones was also prone to making rookie mistakes. Sequan Barkley remains one of the NFL’s top RBs, but the receiving corps is still rebuilding after the team traded away Odell Beckham, Jr. Joe Judge is the team’s fourth head coach since Tom Coughlin’s departure in 2015. This team is rebuilding and is at least a year away from contending for the playoffs.
4. THE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
2019 RECORD: 3-13
KEY ADDITIONS: Chase Young (EDGE), Kendall Fuller (CB)
KEY LOSSES: Josh Norman (CB), Case Keenum (QB)
FORMULA FOR 2020: “No Talent + No Stability = No. 1 Draft Pick”
Forget about not calling them “Redskins” anymore. Can we even call Washington an NFL team anymore? This franchise is a disaster, with scandals reaching all the way to team owner Daniel Snyder. The offense is loaded with question marks, starting with second-year QB Dwayne Haskins. Haskins struggled in the pocket for much of his rookie campaign, and the team will be evaluating him all season to see if he is their long-term solution at QB. Washington does have a dynamic young defensive line, bolstered by star-in-the making edge rusher Chase Young. But there are too many missing pieces on this team to even consider a postseason run. The good news: New head coach Ron Rivera is pledging to change the culture of the team, and he has the leadership ability to do it.
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