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Verdicts on Dallas, NY Giants, Philadelphia and Washington

Champions Eagles ready to put up a strong defence

Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz
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Dallas Cowboys

2017 9-7 Coach Jason Garrett
QB Dak Prescott RB Ezekiel Elliott
Major Ins WR Allen Hurns, FB Jamize Olawale
Major Outs TE Jason Witten, WR Dez Bryant
Top draft picks LB Leighton Vander Esch (first round), G Connor Williams (second round)

Verdict
There is no suspension hovering over running back Ezekiel Elliott this year and he should be the focus of the Dallas offence this season following the departures of wide receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten.

Allen Hurns is an eye-catching addition from Jacksonville, but he has been injury-prone so may not provide the answer, which puts pressure on Dak Prescott. 

The quarterback is fortunate to play behind one of the best offensive lines in the league but there have been plenty of defensive changes so there are questions to answer on both sides of the ball.


NY Giants

2017 3-13 Coach Pat Shurmur
QB Eli Manning RB Saquon Barkley
Major Ins LB Alec Ogletree, OT Nate Solder
Major Outs CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Top draft picks RB Saquon Barkley (1), G Will Hernandez (2)

Verdict
Quarterback Eli Manning's days in the Big Apple looked numbered towards the end of last season's poor effort but faith seems to have been restored and the Giants took a significant step towards addressing their dismal running game by selecting the dynamic Saquon Barkley with the second pick in the draft.

Odell Beckham is fit and now the highest-paid wide receiver in the game, so expect fireworks.

Nate Solder's addition to the offensive line should help Manning and with attitude problems and in-fighting in the defence apparently solved, there is scope for the Giants to make a significant improvement.


Philadelphia Eagles

2017 13-3 Coach Doug Pederson
QB Carson Wentz/Nick Foles RB Jay Ajayi
Major Ins WR Mike Wallace, DE Michael Bennett
Major Outs DE Vinny Curry, WR Torrey Smith
Top draft picks TE Dallas Goedert (2), CB Avonte Maddox (4)

Verdict
The Eagles are still flying after their first Super Bowl success last season and they could be stronger once Carson Wentz is back at quarterback after his knee injury, although Nick Foles proved to be an excellent replacement.

Wentz, who spearheaded Philadelphia's excellent regular season, has great weapons in Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz.

The running game is solid and their defence is packed with fine performers - they were the best against the run in the league last season.

It will be a surprise if they don't make another deep run into the playoffs.


Washington Redskins

2017 7-9 Coach Jay Gruden
QB Alex Smith RB Chris Thompson
Major Ins QB Alex Smith, WR Paul Richardson
Major Outs CB Kendall Fuller, QB Kirk Cousins
Top draft picks DT Daron Payne (1), RB Derrius Guice (2)

Verdict
The Alex Smith era starts in Washington after some heavy investment at the Redskins.

The former Chiefs quarterback will be playing behind an offensive line who need to stay healthy and they will be desperate for tight end Jordan Reed to stay off the treatment table for once.

There is a chance he can flourish with Smith just as Travis Kelce did at Kansas City.

Their defence was the worst against the run in the league last year and that could be a big problem against their NFC East opponents. While they were better against the pass, this looks another season where they will finish around the 8-8 mark.


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The Eagles are still flying after their first Super Bowl success last season
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