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Thursday, September 29, 2022
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NFC East Power Rankings: Week 1

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Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott and QB Dak Prescott | Image by USA Today Sports

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The 2022 NFL season begins this week after a tumultuous offseason that saw significant changes to players, coaches, and even the name of one of the NFL’s most storied franchises.

On September 11, the teams that make up the NFC East division will begin seeking to unseat the Dallas Cowboys from their reign as the 2021 NFC East champions.

Every week during the season, Dan Hanzus produces the league-wide power rankings. As the season begins, the Philadelphia Eagles own the highest-ranking slot out of NFC East teams at No.14, only one spot ahead of the 15th-ranked Dallas Cowboys.

The Eagles finished 2021 with a 9-8 record and were second in the division behind Dallas, who went 12-5. Philadelphia lost both games against the Cowboys in 2021 but will enter the new season with a re-tooled offensive line that aims to protect Houston-native Jalen Hurts, who will be the starting quarterback for the second consecutive season

While Dallas still has much to prove going into the regular season after the vast majority of key starting players were held out of action in the preseason, much of the focus will fall on the offensive line.

Dallas’ run game struggled through much of 2021 as star running back Ezekiel Elliott nursed a nagging knee injury, and the offensive line failed to open running lanes with regularity. Numerous significant changes along the line could result in a leap forward if players like first-round rookie Tyler Smith and newly-acquired Jason Peters perform at a high level.

The two remaining NFC East teams are farther down the power rankings list. The New York Giants rank 28th league-wide, one spot behind the Houston Texans.

New York came in last in the NFC East in 2021, notching a 4-13 record under head coach Joe Judge, who was fired after posting the franchise’s worst record in history. Brian Daboll was brought in from the Buffalo Bills to replace Judge and ignite a fire under the anemic offense that quarterback Daniel Jones will lead.

The Giants refused Jones’ fifth-year option on his rookie contract, potentially setting the stage for a trade or release sometime before the 2023 season begins unless Daboll can get the Giants out of the basement.

At the bottom of the NFC East, the Washington Commanders start the 2022 season with a new name and many of the same old problems. The team has been embroiled in a scandal relating to misconduct by the team owners and front office that goes back several years.

The Commanders will lean on Carson Wentz at quarterback this season after acquiring him in an off-season trade with Indianapolis. Wentz spent his first five years with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Cowboys swept the NFC East field in 2021 on their way to the NFC East title.

Dallas’ first conference game will be in Week 3 when the Cowboys travel to New York to face the Giants. The next game will find the Cowboys at home for the second conference matchup, this time against the Washington Commanders in Week 4. Week 6 will see the Cowboys go on the road for the first matchup against division rival Philadelphia as the two teams aim to duke it out in 2022.     

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