NFC: The Beast Is the East!
Undefeated. It is a term that is thrown around quite loosely.
After four weeks of regular season play, there are generally fewer than six teams that are left undefeated. By the time Week 10 rolls around, most of those six teams have had a loss.
Needless to say, it is tough to remain without a loss for the entire regular season, but what about the division record?
Since the divisions realigned in 2002, only eight teams have been undefeated in their own division, and all of them made the playoffs.
Out of those eight, five teams made the Super Bowl. From those five, only one team won the Super Bowl. It happened last year with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Although it is not necessary to even have a winning record in the division. The 2006 Dallas Cowboys, 2007 Jacksonville Jaguars, and the 2008 Philadelphia Eagles all had a 2-4 division records and made the playoffs.
In order for that to happen you have to have two things. A good team, and a very strong division.
With two of those teams being from the NFC East that can only mean one thing—the division is strong.
Since 2005, the NFC East has produced at least one wild card team, and each of the last two years the division has not had a team finish worse than 8-8.
They do not appear to be slowing down at all.
Daniel Snyder and the Washington Redskins were up to their old ways again by spending money—and lots of it.
At the start of free agency, the Redskins signed Albert Haynesworth to plug the middle of the defensive line, then they re-signed DeAngelo Hall, and signed former Redskin guard Derrick Dockery.
Defensive end Brian Orakpo was selected by the Redskins with the 13th overall pick and will be expected to jump in right away.
The Redskins released Jason Taylor, Marcus Washington, and Shawn Springs. Each player had injury concerns last season.
Jim Zorn is in his second year as head coach and could very well be on his way out if he can't prove to Daniel Snyder that he can make it to the playoffs year in and year out.
The Redskins caught a break by getting their division games spread out. However, they do travel to Dallas in Week 11 and then head to Philadelphia in Week 12. Just like weeks four and five of 2008, where the 'Skins picked up two victories.
Even though the Redskins have a weak schedule outside of the division, they will need to win at least three of the division games in order to make the playoffs, because I don't see a 2-4 team earning a playoff berth this year.
Especially the games against a much-improved Eagles squad.
The Philadelphia Eagles made the NFC Championship game with a 9-6-1 record and had a 2-4 division record. They lost to the Redskins twice and split the games between the Giants and Cowboys.
The Philadelphia Eagles made some major offseason moves by trading for offensive tackle Jason Peters, and signing Stacy Andrews. Both players will help bolster a line that has been injured the last few seasons.
In the draft, the Eagles got some potential playmakers in wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, and running back LeSean McCoy. Maclin will give McNabb another deep threat to go along with DeSean Jackson.
Andy Reid and Donovon McNabb have been rumored to be on their way out of Philly for a few years now, but they keep escaping. If the team finds itself below 8-8, they will surely be looking for a new job.
The Eagles should improve on their record. Weeks seven through nine will be pivotal division games as they visit Washington on Monday Night Football and then return home to face the Giants and Cowboys.
The New York Giants are just two years removed from the Super Bowl and won the division last year, but they lost to the Eagles in the Divisional round of the playoffs, and the 'Skins seem to have trouble agaisnt the team from New York.
New York defeated Washington both times last year and split the year before, and the Giants have not made it any easier.
They have added key players to the defensive line in Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty. Both players will help the line who had lost players to injury last year.
After a couple of years on the hot seat, Tom Coughlin won Super Bowl XLII and has been in a stable position ever since. I don't believe that a bad year will lead to his firing.
The Giants start off at home against the Redskins and than travel to Dallas in Week 2. Weeks 13-15 each feature a divisional opponent.
Jerry Jones has had a troublesome offseason. The Cowboys released Terrell Owens, a roof collapsed over their heads at practice and they did not have a pick in day one of the NFL Draft.
Not to mention the loss of Chris Canty to division rival New York. Now Greg Ellis has been granted his request for a trade.
The only thing that seems to be a sure thing is DeMarcus Ware. Ware is coming off a 20-sack season and needs to be the anchor of that defense.
Roy Williams should look to have a better year since Owens is gone. Williams only had one touchdown for the Cowboys all year, and fewer than 200 yards receiving.
Wade Phillips is obviously on his way out if the Cowboys do not make the playoffs in 2009. There are a lot better coaches on the market if Phillips can't make the grade.
Dallas does have the easiest division schedule out of the teams. They face divisional opponents in weeks 2, 9, 11, 13, 16, and 17.
Any of these teams can make the playoffs, but only one is guaranteed a spot by winning the division.
Three have a shot.
The Eagles, Redskins, and the Giants could be playing in January—while the Cowboys make vacation plans.
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