Earlier this offseason, we ranked all four NFC East teams based on how strongly we felt about each squad's chances headed into 2012. Now, we're breaking things down on more of a micro scale. Here's how we view the pass-rushes within the division.
1. New York Giants: I think Philly's defensive front is deeper and I prefer its wide-nine scheme, but I'm going with New York by the world's smallest margin. You saw what that Giants pass-rush did late last season and in the playoffs. They ended up with 48 sacks (third in the league) despite the fact Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck missed a combined 11 games. Jason Pierre-Paul should be even better in 2012, and Tuck and Osi are ready to roll.
2. Philadelphia Eagles: Seriously, though, if I had to predict sack totals for each team, I'd give the Eagles and Giants 60 apiece (tied for the league lead and most since 2006) and call it a day. The Eagles tied for the league lead with 50 sacks last year, and I can't see things being much different this time around. They've gotten better all over, and Jim Washburn has had a full offseason to implement things.
3. Washington Redskins: Here's a pass-rush that could break out in a big way this year. Brian Orakpo is already one of the best edge-rushers in the league, and Ryan Kerrigan should prove to be a fantastic complementary weapon yet again in his second season. Add a healthy Jarvis Jenkins up front, and this young unit could make a run at 50 sacks in 2012.
4. Dallas Cowboys: Despite having the league's best pass-rusher in DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys rank just a touch below the Redskins. Last year, Dallas had 42 team sacks and the 'Skins had 41, but I think Washington is trending upward. Then again, the sky truly is the limit for DeMarcus Ware, especially if Anthony Spencer can have a solid contract year and the improved secondary can buy the rush more time.
Well, that was pretty much impossible to do. In several other divisions, Dallas would've been ranked first. That just goes to show how stacked the NFC East is when it comes to quality defensive fronts. All four teams in the division ranked in the top 10 in sacks last season, and I expect that to be the case again in 2012.