NFL Audibles: Breaking Down the NFC East
After taking a look at the American Football Conference's Eastern Division, it's time to look at the NFC East. The NFC East, wow—the most competitive division in a few years, I must say.
All four teams are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. The Giants, Cowboys, Redskins (yes, call me crazy, but they added to an already underrated offense), and the Eagles all have the chance to win the Super Bowl. Now, call me crazy, but I actually do think the chance another champion comes from this division is pretty damn good.
Why? Let's take a look.
The Cowboys. "America's Team" floundered in the final minutes of the fourth quarter against the Giants. Is the team really suffering from the Jessica Simpson curse? Let's hope not. And while we're at it, here's an ode to Tony Romo also not suffering from the "Big Contract" Syndrome. Jerry Jones showed him the money, and Romo took it. Do the Cowboys bounce back? Really think about it, and we'll get back to it.
Donovan McNabb. What can I say about this guy? A top 10 quarterback, when healthy. Keyword here is healthy. It's something that McNabb just can't seem to stay away from. Whether it's a leg, or a head, or an arm injury, something always seems to bite McNabb in the rear end. Is this the year he stays completely healthy? Last time he did that, the Eagles went to the Super Bowl. Desean Jackson will be an excellent addition for McNabb as well. The Eagles look really scary this year. And I don't say that for many teams.
Never count out the Super Bowl champions, though. The Giants were resilient all playoffs in their chase, and finally dethroned Goliath, otherwise known as the Patriots. Michael Strahan is another issue. He's either the eight-million-dollar man, or he's watching football from his couch next season. He better have his popcorn ready for it as well. The Giants added another positive draft Class, and they look ready to get back at it. Is a repeat in the cards?
Not if the Redskins can help it, I'm thinking. Jim Zorn will implement a highly efficient West Coast offense, and you can watch the Redskins hover in the top 10 offenses all year. With all the rookie production coming in, you may see a gradual increase. The 'Skins still need some depth on the O-Line, but Jason Campbell could be on the radar of a lot of Fantasy Gurus' Big Boards come late August.
The questions surrounding the NFC East are of the same variety as the AFC East, but pertain much more to the players side. With that being said, here is my early Preview for the NFC East.
1. Dallas Cowboys -- 11-5 - In a division loaded with talent, I doubt you see a team go past 12 wins. The mark may be hovered by two or three teams, but the divisional games are going to be some real exciting football to watch. If the Cowboys can steal a couple on the road and continue their usual trend of winning at home, they could be at the same point going into the playoffs as they were last year. The running game is going to be much improved, as I believe Felix Jones is an improvement over Julius Jones. Tashard Choice adds depth. Some question marks on the D may need to be addressed though. I'll give the Cowboys the Division right now, but I could be persuaded to change my stance on the top.
2. New York Giants -- 9-7 - To think that the Giants were about to fire Tom Coughlin just two years ago and possibly recede into rebuilding mode just goes to show the wonders of football. The Giants are fresh off a Super Bowl championship and look to contend again this year. Another solid draft class gives them a new Safety in Kenny Phillips, a nickel back in Terrell Thomas and more depth at the receiver in Mario Manningham. After producing such rookies as Ahmad Bradshaw and Kevin Boss who produced down the stretch, the Giants hope this years injection of youth gives them a greater hope of repeating. But is Eli Manning really ready to step out of his shell and become a top 10 Quarterback? Either way, it'll be fun to watch this team all year.
3. Philadelphia Eagles -- 9-7 - The Eagles made one of the biggest offseason splashes this year, and picked up insurance in the upcoming drafts. Andy Reid & Co. traded back into the second round, where they grabbed Desean Jackson, the exciting playmaker out of California. Asante Samuel was shown the cash in free agency, and he gives the Eagles an exciting tandem, teaming up with Lito Sheppard to create havoc in the secondary. A pick to watch in the upcoming years is Jack Ikegwuonu, who the Eagles picked up in the fourth round. Ikegwuonu blew out his knee and tore an ACL while training for the draft and will not play this year. But it gives them depth in the upcoming years, and insurance when Sheldon Brown moves to Free Safety in place of Brian Dawkins.
4. Washington Redskins -- 8-8 - When was the last time that a team went 8-8 and finished fourth in a Division? Hard to say, but the Redskins could be well on their to doing so this year. They play a tough schedule this year, and the rookies on offense are really going to have to step it up to give the Redskins a chance to stay in some games. The secondary could be a concern, especially at the corner spot. Justin Tyron won't be a starter, but he'll be decent depth. Carlos Rodgers' health could be more of a concern then fans would like to believe, I'm thinking. The Redskins have potential to win the division, but they also have the potential to be bottom-feeders, and I think they'll land in the middle.
You can't count anyone out in the NFC East. It's going to be a fight right down to the finish, possibly between all four teams. It wouldn't surprise me if both of the NFC's Wild cards come from this Division again, so it's definitely going to be tough.
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