New York: Still Giants Among Men in the NFC East?

Aaron LiebmanAnalyst IMay 12, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 11:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants greets Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles after the NFC Divisional Playoff Game on January 11, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.The Eagles won the game by a score of 23-11.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

For the last four seasons, at least two teams in the NFC East has qualified for the playoffs, with three doing it in 2006 and 2007.  The last two seasons every team has finished at least with a .500 record. But it’s very likely things could change this season.


Going into last season, the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants weren’t picked to even win their division. Some didn’t even pick them to qualify for the playoffs again. Instead, they jumped out to an 11-1 record with all the doubters now convinced they would capture their second straight Lombardi trophy.


They seemed unstoppable until wide receiver Plaxico Burress figuratively shot himself in the foot and literally shot himself in the leg and the team lost three out of its last four, two of which to Dallas and Philadelphia. Then, they dropped the first playoff game to Philly with play that wouldn’t have even been able to beat the Detroit Lions.


At the midway point of last season, it looked like not only was the Philadelphia Eagles’ season was over, so were the careers of coach Andy Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb in the so called city of brotherly love.


They then went on a tear that saw them reach the NFC Championship game for the fifth time in the Reid era, however lose it for the fourth time in the Reid era.


Many thought the Dallas Cowboys would run away with the conference and win the Super Bowl even though they hadn’t won a playoff game since 1996. They didn’t even get a chance to do that last year after a collapse that saw the team implode. They proved that football IS the ultimate team sport rather than individuals who are good players.


The season concluded with quarterback Tony Romo whining to owner Jerry Jones to release Terrell Owens so he’ll feel more comfortable on the team. If Romo fails again, who will he get to use as a patsy?


The Washington Redskins just seem like a team that’s left out of all this even though they’ve qualified for the playoffs in 2005 and 2007. There are a few reasons for this.  One, their quarterback is the least notarized of any in the division.


Two, they change head coaches almost as often as running back Clinton Portis changes costumes for interviews.  And three, when they achieve success it’s always been late season surges in which they had to win out to qualify.


So who will sit atop of the NFC East come January? Conventional wisdom says it’ll be anyone but the Giants since no team has clinched the division consecutively since the Eagles from 2001-2004.


Other than Washington’s acquisition of Albert Haynesworth, none of the teams really gained too much in the offseason. Instead, they chose to subtract with the Giants saying goodbye to Plaxico Burress and Derrick Ward, as well as the Cowboys KO-ing T.O.


The Eagles traded away Lito Sheppard to the Jets and allowed both Correll Buckhalter and Brian Dawkins to sign with Denver


So there really are no significant improvements to necessarily change a team for this season.


The biggest questions for the division basically hinge on the wide receiver position.  Who will the Giants get to replace Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer?  How will Jason Witten handle being the go to guy in big D? 

And who will emerge from Philly’s roster of no name receivers to take center stage?  Whoever answers these questions the best may be the next champion of the NFC East.