We haven't officially checked in on the league's most popular division in power ranking fashion since the offseason. At that point, we had the Eagles first, followed by the Giants, then the Cowboys and, finally, the Redskins.
But last week we gave our team-by-team predictions, which essentially made it obvious that we viewed the Cowboys as a stronger team than the Giants, while Philadelphia remained tops in the division and the Redskins stayed (barely) in the basement.
Now we're one week in, and it feels as though everything is already being flipped on its head. This order is sure to change a lot over the course of the season, but here's how the B/R NFC East blog views the division right here and right now.
1. Dallas Cowboys (1-0, 2nd last week)
The thing about the Cowboys is if the secondary really is for real, they might actually be the most balanced team in the conference. I mean, San Francisco doesn't have the aerial attack, the Packers don't have the running game, the Eagles are in a messy situation in terms of pass protection and quarterback play, and Detroit and Atlanta are close to one-dimensional offensively.
I don't know if being extremely balanced is a key to success per se, but it certainly won't hurt.
I've been saying all offseason that this team has the ingredients to be very successful, and we saw them cook up something special in the opener last week. But there's a lot of time for things to blow up, so the 'Boys would be smart to take it day by day.
2. Washington Redskins (1-0, 4th last week)
And just like that, the Redskins look like they can truly compete for a playoff spot in the NFC East.
Will every game go that smoothly for Robert Griffin III? Probably not. Is the secondary really that much better than last year? I doubt it. But even if the 'Skins come back to earth a little, they should still be in the mix throughout 2012.
The concern, of course, is that they'll come all the way back to earth, crashing hard in the process. I suppose that's possible, but Griffin faced one of his stiffest tests Sunday and passed with flying colors, as did the entire team. It'll only get easier the rest of the way, which means only the young Redskins can prevent the young Redskins from accomplishing the unthinkable in RG3's rookie season.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0, 1st last week)
How does a team spend an entire offseason thinking about how to keep their quarterback upright and then allow him to take a league-high 11 hits? And how does said quarterback spend an entire offseason thinking about how to cut down on silly mistakes and then make nearly a handful of killer errors against one of the league's least dangerous defenses?
And if the Eagles and Michael Vick weren't working on these things throughout the offseason, then I'd like to know what exactly it is they were doing.
The shame of it is the defense played lights-out in Cleveland, but it was almost all for naught. As a fan of great football, it kills me seeing a team with this much talent continually vomit all over themselves.
4. New York Giants (0-1, 3rd last week)
Super Bowl teams are often overrated heading into the next season, and the Giants were no exception. Injuries played a role in that one-sided loss to the Cowboys, but it's not as though Dallas didn't have its share of health issues, too.
The fact is that Eli Manning wasn't hitting enough of his targets, the offensive line couldn't open up holes and the pass rush wasn't there when the Giants needed it.
On the bright side, it was Week 1, not Week 17. I refuse to call the Giants a top-tier team in 2012 just because they got hot and won it all in 2011, but I also refuse to rule them out. Tom Coughlin's too good and Manning's too resilient.
It's beginning to look as though the NFC East is going to be a wide-open race throughout 2012. And while it wouldn't surprise me to see the defending champs back on top in January, I wouldn't be any more or less surprised to see them finish dead last.
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