Today we continue discussing where the NFL is going in 2022 with a look at the NFC East. Our NFL projections are based on a forecast of team performance and a subjective assessment of each team’s quarterback’s storylines.
The team win forecast is primarily driven by a new advanced QB metric called QB Wins. The preview is intentionally QB centric. These players disproportionately drive on-field success, fan interest, and salary cap issues. The NFL is the dominant sports league across just about every demographic group, and the QBs are the stars. We will publish a new division each week. See last week's AFC West division preview here.
Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.
1. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
In terms of fandom, the Dallas Cowboys are a strange deal. The Cowboys are still the NFL’s dominant brand despite not winning for 30 years. Cowboys’ fans are criticized for being less intense than other fan bases, but Cowboys fandom is amazingly resilient. Maybe they show up late or don’t yell as loud, but they do show up and pay premium prices.
The Cowboys are always a story, and this year will be no exception. After last year’s playoff defeat, the pressure will ramp up in Dallas. Prescott did not deliver a playoff victory last year – and Prescott should know that the official needs to touch the ball. A professional QB with a four-year $160 million contract should know the rules.
I’ve never been enamored by Prescott. It might be a built-in bias from being a Steelers fan. However, the QB Wins metric suggests that Prescott is a near-elite QB talent as his scores are similar to the group of QBs that have tended to win Super Bowls. Prescott scored a 1.98 win contribution last year and a 2.03 in 2019. While not Rodgers or Mahomes level, it is on par with Stafford or Allen. The Cowboys’ forecast is 10.1 wins and the division championship.
Cowboys’ Forecast: 10.1 wins
Cowboys’ Fan Base Ranking: #3
Media Narrative Grade: A
2. Philadelphia Eagles & Jalen Hurts
The Eagles are an underappreciated Fan Base and team, but it's doubtful that the Eagles will generate much media and marketing excitement in 2022. Last year, the Eagles were 9-8, with Hurt scoring a -1.7 win contribution. For 2022 the Eagles are projected to win just short of 9 games. The Eagles are an above-average team with a below-average QB.
This is a tough situation—a winning team with a questionable but young QB. But he team is barely winning while Hurt is also on a cost-controlled rookie contract. There isn’t much of a storyline in Philadephia beyond whether Hurt is the long-term answer.
The Eagles are another team with a challenging QB situation as Hurt has two years at low money before becoming a free agent.
Eagles Forecast: 8.9 wins
Eagles’ Fan Base Ranking: #4
Media Narrative Grade: C-
3. Washington Commanders & Carson Wentz
The Commanders finished dead last in our most recent fan base and NFL brand rankings. There is no need to rehash the issues in Washington, but this is a franchise in critical condition. Revenue sharing makes the NFL a no-lose proposition, but this is a marketing disaster. The old fan base has been alienated, and the hoped-for “new” fan base hasn’t shown up. And no one seems to like the Commanders name.
Heinicke was a nice story in 2021, but he was also a -1.8 QB Win. Wentz is all over the place. A -3.8 in 2020 and a -.34 in Indianapolis in 2021. This could be a team with two QBs or no QBs – which almost always means no QBs.
The Commanders desperately need an “on-field” story to distract from everything else. Unfortunately, it looks like an 8-win team. This is the fascinating thing about the Commanders. Everything seems like a train wreck, but the team isn’t bad.
Commanders Forecast: 8 wins
Commanders’ Fan Base Ranking: #32
Media Narrative Grade: D
4. New York Giants & Daniel Jones
The Giants scored relatively poorly in the Fan Base rankings at #13. While not an iconic brand in the NFL, the Giants have usually been close to being a top 5 brand. The NFL continues to dominate American sports, but there haven’t been a lot of positives in the largest media market. Does the average NFL fan know the QB of the Giants?
Daniel Jones’ average QB Win score for the past three seasons is -1.2 wins (-1 last year). The data suggest that Jones is not the main problem with the Giants. But he is now nearing the end of his rookie contract, and there is little evidence to suggest that he is the Giant’s long-term answer. Jones is probably more of a local story this season as much attention is unlikely to be paid to the Giants. However, the QB problems across the two struggling NY franchises is an issue for the league.
I think the story is that the Giants will be looking to draft another QB.
Giants Forecast: 6.2 wins
Giants Fan Base Ranking: #13
Media Narrative Grade: C
NFC East Summary:
The NFC East is the default center of the NFL media universe. It has top brands in major east coast metros combined with the league’s biggest brand located in Texas. The division has struggled with mediocre teams and a marketing disaster in Washington DC over the past few years. In 2022 Prescott and the Cowboys are a solid story, but a story that feels like a repeat. It’s a division that feels like something bad is about to happen – that the current QB is not the answer for any of the teams. It’s a mismatch between the star power of the brands and the QBs.
Stream our podcast discussion of this article on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.
Check out our other divisional projections here:
All Divisional Projections
Stream the podcast discussion of the preview on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.