Markowitz: Final NFC East Season Predictions

In the previous two editions of the Triangle, I revealed my game-by-game predictions for each team in the NFC East through the first 11 weeks of the 2016 season. Now it’s time to reveal who will win division this fall.

By the end of Week 11, the Dallas Cowboys will be winning the division with a 7-3 record. Dallas will be one game ahead of the second place New York Giants. The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles will be tied for third place, both having a 4-6 record.

The Giants travel to Ohio to take on the Cleveland Browns at 1 p.m. Nov. 27. Eli Manning shines for New York by throwing four touchdown passes. Jason Pierre-Paul records two sacks for the Giant’s defense, and New York Beats Cleveland 38-10.

Washington travels to Dallas for a 4:30 p.m. matchup with the Cowboys. Romo is forced to sit out due to an injury suffered in Week 11, so Dak Prescott gets the start for Dallas. Prescott struggles early against Redskins and throws two interceptions in the first half. Washington capitalizes on Prescott’s mistakes and takes a 17-point lead into halftime. Dallas is unable to overcome its first half mistakes and loses 27-17 to Washington.

The Eagles play the Green Bay Packers at home for the Monday Night Football game Nov. 28. Aaron Rodgers finds the holes in Philadelphia’s secondary and throws for 320 yards and four touchdowns. The Eagles lose to the Packers 35-21.

(DAL 7-4, NYG 7-4, WAS 5-6, PHI 4-7)

Dallas has a short week as they travel North to play the Minnesota Vikings for a Thursday Night Football matchup Dec. 1. Romo returns to action for the Cowboys, but struggles against a Vikings defense that allowed the fifth fewest points in 2015. Ezekiel Elliott keeps the Cowboys in the game by rushing for 120 yards and two touchdowns, but the rookie running back is outplayed by Adrian Peterson. Peterson runs for 145 yards and leads the Vikings to a 21-17 victory over Dallas.

The Eagles have a road game against the Cincinnati Bengals at 1 p.m. Dec. 4. The Bengals defense shuts down Sam Bradford and the Eagles for the majority of the game. Philadelphia puts 10 points on the board in the fourth quarter but ultimately falls to Cincinnati 28-10.

New York takes on the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road at 4:25 p.m. Dec. 4. Manning throws three touchdowns, but he is outplayed by Ben Roethlisberger, who throws four touchdowns. Despite a solid outing by their offense, the Giants lose to the Steelers 35-31.

Washington travels to the dessert to play the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona’s powerful passing attack, led by Carson Palmer, puts up four touchdowns against Washington’s defense. The Cardinals take a 21-point lead into the fourth quarter. Kirk Cousins rallies his team for 14 points in the fourth quarter, but Washington’s comeback is thwarted by a touchdown reception from Larry Fitzgerald. Washington loses 35-21.

(DAL 7-5, NYG 7-5, WAS 5-7, PHI 4-8)

The Eagles play host to the Redskins for a divisional battle at 1 p.m. Dec. 11. Last season, Washington eliminated the Eagles from the playoffs by beating them 38-26 during a Week 16 matchup in Philadelphia. In 2016, for the second year in a row, the Redskins will eliminate the Eagles from playoff contention. Kirk Cousins has a big game, throwing for 300 yards and four touchdowns. Washington beats Philadelphia 35-24.

New York will get its chance to avenge an opening day loss to Dallas when they play the Cowboys during the Sunday Night Football game Dec. 11. Manning and the Giants trail the Cowboys 27-21 when they get the ball back on offense with just four minutes remaining. Manning orchestrates a 77-yard offensive drive that results in an Odell Beckham touchdown and gives New York a 28-27 lead with 20 seconds remaining. Jason Pierre-Paul sacks Tony Romo on the ensuing Cowboy possession, which kills the clock and gives the Giants a victory. With the win, New York takes over sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

(NYG 8-5, DAL 7-6, WAS 6-7, PHI 4-9)

After two consecutive weeks playing on the road, Dallas returns home to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Dec. 18. Looking to put an end to a three-game losing streak, Tony Romo comes out of the gate and plays well, throwing three touchdowns in the first half. Jameis Winston is able to put up three touchdowns of his own in the second half, but Dallas is able to milk the clock on their final possession by handing the ball off to Elliott. Dallas wins 27-21.

Philadelphia travels south down I-95 to take on the Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco struggles early against Philadelphia’s pass rush and throws two first half interceptions. However, the former Super Bowl MVP leads the Ravens back with three touchdown passes in the second half. Sam Bradford also departs in the fourth quarter with an injury. Baltimore beats Philadelphia 28-24.

The Giants play the Detroit Lions at home in a game that New York is favored to win. However, Manning has two first quarter interceptions that put the Giants in an early 14-0 hole. The Giants are unable to overcome Manning’s turnovers and lose to the Lions 27-20.

Washington plays the Carolina Panthers at home in a Monday Night Football Matchup Dec. 19. Cam Newton and the Panthers offense dominate the Redskins throughout the entire game. Kirk Cousins throws two interceptions, including a pick-six by Luke Kuechly, and Washington loses 35-13 to Carolina.

(DAL 8-6, NYG 8-6, WAS 6-8, PHI, 4-10)

The Giants play the Eagles in Philadelphia in a Thursday Night Football game Dec. 22. Needing to win out in order to clinch the division title, the Giants play motivated. New York’s defense piles up five sacks and forces three turnovers. Victor Cruz finally returns from injuries and scores a touchdown to inspire New York’s offense. The Giants win 28-14 and break a five game losing streak against the Eagles.

The Redskins go on the road and play the Chicago Bears 1 p.m. Dec. 24. Despite his team being eliminated from postseason play, Kirk Cousins plays well and throws for three touchdowns to lead Washington in a 28-21 victory.

In a must win game to stay alive for the division crown, the Cowboys play the Lions at home on Monday Night Football Dec. 26. Dallas trails Detroit by four points with under three minutes remaining in the game. Romo leads the Cowboys into scoring position, but injures his back when he is sacked on first down and goal. Dak Prescott comes in and delivers a game winning touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. The Cowboys win 27-24, but the victory comes at a price as they lose Romo for the final game of the season.

(DAL 9-6, NYG 9-6, WAS 7-8, 4-11)

Dallas travels to Philadelphia for their final game of the season at 1 p.m. Jan. 1. Dak Prescott starts in place of the injured Tony Romo. Prescott has an impressive first half, but so does Sam Bradford. The game is tied at 21 with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when Prescott throws a devastating interception. Bradford leads Philadelphia on a five minute field goal drive, and the Eagles beat the Cowboys 24-21.

While Philadelphia is in the middle of spoiling Dallas’s season, the Giants and Redskins are engaging in a close battle in Washington. New York trails Washington 21-17 with four minutes remaining. With the season on the line, Eli Manning leads the Giants on an 80-yard touchdown drive and puts New York ahead 24-21. The Giants defense forces a turnover, and the Giants come away with the victory and the division crown.

(NYG 10-6, DAL 9-7, WAS 7-9, PHI 5-11)

I’ve got the Giants winning the NFC East in 2016.