2018 NFC East Preview: Can the Dallas Cowboys finish first?
By Tyrone Starr
2017 Record/Finish: 7-9, 3rd in NFC East
Offensive Ranks (2017): 16th (scoring), 16th (total yards), 12th (passing), 28th (rushing)
Defensive Ranks (2017): 28th (scoring), 21st (total yards), 9th (passing), 32nd (rushing)
Key offseason additions: QB Alex Smith (KC), RB Adrian Peterson (AZ), OLB Pernell McPhee (CHI)
Key offseason losses: QB Kirk Cousins (MIN), C Spencer Long (NYJ), WR Terrelle Pryor (NYJ)
Key draft pick: DT Da’Ron Payne
Toughest multi-game stretch: Weeks 12-16 (at Dallas, at Philadelphia, vs. N.Y Giants, at Jacksonville, at Tennessee)
Vegas Over/Under for wins: 7
Projected 2018 record: 5-11
Since 2013, Washington has failed to finish better than third place in the NFC just once. This year should be more of the same.
Swapping Kirk Cousins for Alex Smith is a slight downgrade, even though they have the best Week One quarterback in the division. The running back situation is so bleak due to injuries and a lack of talent that Peterson was brought in two weeks ago and will likely start Sunday.
They also have the weakest wide receiving corps in the division and a tight end recovering from a lingering toe issue. In short, the offense is a mess.
Defensively, if they can stay healthy, they will improve upon the worst rushing defense from last season. Payne is a stud and they will have more help along the line with last year’s selection Johnathan Allen.
Where they will not improve or even stay equal is their pass defense. That will regress from a top ten group, more to the middle of the pack.
That late season stretch will also likely be the death nail in their 2018 coffin as they will be fortunate to win just one of those five games. Washington is playing for 2019.