NFC East: Review and Preview

ChiCitySports .ComCorrespondent IJune 15, 2009

The NFC East, or NFC "Beast" as it was recently referred to as, has four quality teams that pose a threat to make a deep run in the playoffs year in and year out.

The New York Giants thrive on being the underdog.

The Dallas Cowboys never seem to live up to expectations but have the talent.

The Philadelphia Eagles are the definition of inconsistent but are dangerous as any other team.

The Washington Redskins love to spend money like it is going out of style but just cannot translate that into any significant wins.

New York Giants: 2008-2009 Record: 12-4

The New York Giants went into the 2008-2009 season as defending champions, yet they were not the favorites to do it again despite bringing back the majority of their starters.

Being the underdog is no problem for Tom Coughlin and company as they cruised through their tough, regular season schedule that included wins against the eventual Super Bowl champion Steelers, Super Bowl runner-up Arizona, AFC Championship runner-up Baltimore and playoff team Carolina.

They were able to grab the number one seed heading into the playoffs and a first round bye even after the debacle that featured Plaxico "shoot myself in the leg" Burress. Eli Manning looked a little lost without his big target to throw too. Now that meant that he had to actually throw balls on target. 

In the second round of the playoffs Eli looked sharp as ever, it was just too bad he was throwing to the other team. The defending champs were sent home to watch the rest of the playoffs from there couch after a 23-11 loss. Maybe they should have stayed the underdog.

After a disappointing end to last season the Giants have looked to improve and hopefully make another run at the Super Bowl.

Key Additions: WR Hakeem Nicks; DT Rocky Bernard; DT Chris Canty; LB Michael Boley;

Key Losses: RB Derrick Ward; WR Plaxico Burress; DC Steve Spagnola

2009-2010 Preview:

With the loss of Plaxico, the Giants needed a big bodied receiver who can go up and get the ball and is not scared to go across the middle. They got exactly that in Hakeem Nicks. Eli now has another big target he can throw to.

The loss of Derrick Ward also hurts them and if Bradshaw does not step it up Brandon Jacobs will get worn down quickly.

New York also bolstered up their defense which now has the potential to be as dangerous as they were the year they took home the championship.

The additions of Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard should sure up their run stopping ability and force their opposition into passing, which would be ideal for one of the league's best pass rushes.

2009-2010 Prediction: 10-6

The Giants schedule is easier than last years but in order for them to make a run into and through the playoffs they need their role players to step up (that includes Ahmad Bradshaw and rookie Hakeem Nicks).

Philadelphia Eagles: 2008-2009 Record: 9-6-1

Last season the Eagles had an interesting season to say the least. Their season included a tie, the calling for McNabb's head and a rookie wide receiver prematurely celebrating, yet never learning his lesson.

Through all of this the Eagles were able to make the playoffs and it took the planets to align for the Eagles to make the playoffs. Heading into week 17, the Eagles were not mathematically eliminated but needed more help than the NHL. 

In order to make the playoffs Philadelphia needed the Chicago Bears to lose (to an inconsistent Texans team); the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to lose (to a horrible Raiders team) and they needed to beat Dallas.

Well the unthinkable happened, and heading into their Sunday night showdown with the Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles knew what they had to do to make the playoffs. They took their opportunity and absolutely crushed the Cowboys 44-6.

Not only did that win propel them into the playoffs but they were able to leave their division rivals out of the party. The Eagles were riding high going into the playoffs, winning 4 of their last 5 games and were one of the hottest teams entering the post season.

The Eagles travelled to Minnesota for their first playoff game and left with a 26-14 win. The following week they visited the Meadowlands and upset the defending champs 23-11 and had a date with Arizona in the Conference Championship.

Larry Fitzgerald and Co. were just too much for Philadelphia to handle and their Cinderella season was over as quickly as it had begun. By carrying his team into the playoffs McNabb was welcomed into open arms by Eagle fans.

It is safe to say that McNabb is safe in Philadelphia. That is until they start the season 1-1 and the fans once again call for his head. Got to love the consistency of Philadelphia fans.

Key Additions: RG Shawn Andrews; RT Stacy Andrews; FB Leonard Weaver; WR Jeremy Maclin; RB: LeSean McCoy; S Sean Jones; CB Ellis Hobbs

Key Losses: S Brian Dawkins; RT Jon Runyan

2009-2010 Preview:

The Eagles had an incredible loss in all-pro safety Brian Dawkins. His replacement Sean Jones has huge shoes to fill and we will see if he rises to the challenge or crumbles under the pressure.

The offense has a much stronger and healthier look this year. By drafting LeSean McCoy, Westbrook will not have to be on the field every down which should keep him much healthier this year.

Another key piece to this offense is Jeremy Maclin. After drafting Desean Jackson last year and hitting big they decided to try again. They now have 3 very fast receivers (Curtis, Jackson, and Maclin) who will stretch the field and allow Westbrook and McCoy more running room.

Hopefully, for Philadelphia, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson will be able to be on the field and healthy and coach this defense. His coaching ability is rivaled by very few and Philadelphia’s defense will not be playing up to their full potential if he is at home or in the booth.

2009-2010 Prediction: 9-7

The loss of Dawkins might be too big for this team to overcome. He was not only an all-pro safety but he was the heart and soul of this team.

Dallas Cowboys: 2008-2009 Record: 9-7

Going from the team too not even making the playoffs is a perplexing situation but that is the exact situation Dallas found themselves in last season.

Week after week fans were unsure of which team would show up. One week the prolific Cowboy offense would put points up like there was no tomorrow but other weeks they would struggle to put up 14 points.

Other weeks the Dallas defense would look to be the leagues best while the following week they looked lost and confused.

When quarterback Tony Romo went down in their week 6 loss to Arizona it seemed like Dallas' playoff hopes went with it. Brad Johnson just could not lead the team and when Brooks Bollinger was called in he was not much better.

Going from a pro-bowl quarterback in Romo to a crippled, old man in Johnson and a scared, pre-teen looking quarterback in Bollinger, the season looked over.

When Dallas pulled off a win against the Buccaneers I think I was with the majority when I asked myself, "Did they just win? How the hell?" That win raised the confidence meter ever so slightly.

Dallas even had a chance to make the playoffs heading into week 17 but were utterly crushed by the Eagles. That left a horrible taste in their mouth and this season they will be looking to bounce back.

Key Additions: QB Jon Kita; DE Igor Olshanksy; S Gerald Sensabaugh

Key Losses: WR Terrell Owens; CB Adam Jones; CB Anthony Henry; LB Zach Thomas; LB Greg Ellis; DE Chris Canty; S Roy Williams

2009-2010 Preview:

The Dallas Cowboys lost/cut some great players this off-season. The most prolific being all-pro wide receiver Terrell Owens, he is now safely playing in Buffalo (good luck Buffalo).

Dallas also cut Adam “Pacman” Jones and Greg Ellis. Both players caused problems for the organization and GM Jerry Jones, in his new effort to create team chemistry, released them.

There will be a lot of pressure on wide receiver Roy Williams. In order for Dallas to have a great passing attack he will have to play like the number one receiver Jones thought he could be when he traded for him.

This season will rest solely in the hands of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.  You might ask why, since he only calls the plays, but let me tell you. If he falls into the same pass happy, predictable play calling that plagued him last year then the Cowboys will again be at home come playoff time.

Dallas has three very talented running backs that should not only create competition but keep one another fresh. If Dallas wants to make a deep run through the playoffs then Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice need to carry the load.

2009-2010 Prediction: 11-5

If Dallas runs the ball and the defense is able to play as well as last year (which they will with Wade Phillips calling the plays) they will have a good year and should make a deep run into the playoffs.

Washington Redskins: 2008-2009 Record: 8-8

Coming off a playoff year the Redskins looked to improve. That is not what happened as the Redskins, who many thought would progress since they were such a young team, regressed and finished a disappointing 8-8.

They started the year off at 5-2 and handed two losses to division rivals. Quarterback Jason Campbell had been playing well enough to help them win by minimizing turnovers and running back Clinton Portis was an early candidate for most valuable player.

Going into their bye week they were 5-3 and still in great shape. It went downhill after that as they lost 5 of their last 8 games and finished in the cellar of the NFC East.

Jason Campbell turned into his previous years form and began making multiple mistakes when facing pressure.

There were hardly any offensive threats and the defense had more holes than Swiss cheese. Deangelo Hall showed why he is no longer a good cornerback (just highly overpaid).

Jason Taylor (the Redskins “big” signing in the preseason) had trouble staying on the field.

Once the Redskins headed into the final week of November it looked as if they were already giving up. They lost 4 of their last 5 games and were content to finish the season and head home.

Key Additions: DT Albert Haynesworth; LB/DE Brian Orakpo

2009-2010 Preview:

Washington brings back the core of their team and did not have any significant losses. They have had a year to gel and mature and have the opportunity to put it all together this year.

GM Dan Snyder spent $100 million on defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. At times he has shown that he is the most dominant defensive tackle in the game. Coincidentally his best two years were during contact years.

Snyder also decided to spend $55 million on DeAngelo Hall who is one of (if not the most) overrated cornerback in the NFL.

This spending spree is going to once again be the downfall of the Washington Redskins. They have a solid core of players but it seems like Snyder doesn’t know when to stop spending money on overrated players.

2009-2010 Prediction: 7-9

Maybe one more year of experience will be what this team needs. Snyder needs to know that the off-season spending spree needs to stop or this team will stall every year.

-kmanharris- vsn writer


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