Very rarely does a sports league see a division in which every team could make a serious run for the championship.
Hello, NFL. Meet the NFC East.
Every team in the division is strong, and the race for the playoffs is wide open. Fans in Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington should have a lot to look forward to this upcoming season.
Oh, what a relief.
Fans in Dallas no longer have to worry about the T.O. drama, as he shipped off to Buffalo. Tony Romo should look a lot more relaxed on the sideline and in the huddle, allowing him to make more plays without having to worry about where the ball goes.
Although the 'Boys didn't pick in the first two rounds, they still had a solid draft. Half of the team's 12 picks were spent infusing young blood into the defense, a decision that could pay dividends immediately.
Romo and the rest of the team will be playing with added inspiration after the terrible accident at their practice facility. Expect the entire team to come out ready to win for their injured peers.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Plaxico Burress is out. Let the football resume.
The defending division champs come into '09 just as strong as last season. The drafting of wide-out Hakeem Nicks adds a suitable replacement to Burress on the field--as long as he doesn't replicate the off the field actions as well.
Eli Manning comes into this year no longer pressured as the defending Super Bowl Champion. The 12-4 '08 record could improve if Manning returns to his '08 regular season form, but if we see the Eli we saw in the playoff loss to the Eagles, the Giants may have to make some adjustments.
Osi Umeniyora is back, and he's ready to play. Expect him to add energy (and sack production) to an already potent Giants D. Rookie Clint Sintim will strengthen the linebacker corps, making this team a real force throughout '09.
One game away.
That seems to be the theme of the new millennium Eagles, losing last year's NFC title game to the Arizona Larry Fitzgeralds. The team has made the necessary moves to improve and give Donovan McNabb the weapons he requested, but youth could prove to be a problem late in the season.
Rookies Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy will produce immediately, allowing McNabb more receiving options and Brian Westbrook added in-game rest. If McCoy develops into a Westbrook-like production machine, this offense will be the best in the entire league.
The offensive line is most improved from last year, with the addition of Buffalo's Jason Peters and Cincinnati's Stacy Andrews. McNabb should have all the time in the world to make things happen, and when he has the time, things do happen.
The defensive secondary is the only question mark on the team, but only because of Sheldon Brown's discontent.
If he becomes a T.O.-like distraction, that will hurt the team. Trading for the Patriots' Ellis Hobbs was a smart move, but making Sheldon Brown happy again should be priority number one.
Jason Campbell has a lot to play for.
After learning that his team was active in the Jay Cutler sweepstakes, Campbell was hurt. It should serve as a wake-up call to the young QB, and show him that he needs to play better.
The signing of Derrick Dockery will help protect Campbell in the pocket. A lot of the offense's success, however, rests on the health of Clinton Portis. Ladell Betts is a good back, but if Portis stays at 100 percent, the team will see a vast improvement from its .500 record last year.
Albert Haynesworth became the highest-paid defensive lineman, and he should earn every cent for the Skins D. First round choice Brian Orakpo will improve the D line as well. A solid secondary headed by DeAngelo Hall and LaRon Landry will make this team tough to pass against.
So who wins the division? Only time will tell. One thing's for sure, though:
It'll be a whole lot of fun to watch.
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