The NFC East looks to return in 09 as the "beastliest" division in professional football. The division known around the league as "The Beast" looks to rebound as the best division in the NFL this season.
The NFC East is consistently one of the best in the league, but last season they only sent two representatives to the playoffs in 2008 after two consecutive seasons of sending three.
Since the 2000 season, the Beast has sent at least two teams to the playoffs every year except two -2001,2004. The have had at least two in each of the last four seasons.
The East has also produced three Superbowl representatives and one world championship. Six number one seeds are the cherries on top.
The Giants, Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins each have major questions to answer heading into this season however.
The Giants bring back one of the best defensive lines in the league while welcoming back Osi Umenyiora who missed all of the 2008 season with a knee injury.
However the G-Men also have many questions heading into this season including how their newly minted $94 million dollar QB will mesh with an inexperienced wide-receiving corps.
The Eagles are coming off a season in which they were a game away from reaching the Super Bowl. The also add number one pick Jeremy Maclin to a deep wide-receiving corps.
The Eagles have also been hit hard by the injury bug. The Eagles have lost starting middle linebacker—the quarterback of any defense—Stewart Bradley and rookie tight end Cornelius Ingram for the season. Along with the passing of long-time defensive coordinator Jim Johnson the Eagles find themselves in some flux.
The Cowboys probably have had the most tumultuous offseason in the division with the release of Terrell Owens but they do still have bright spots on both sides of the ball. DeMarcus Ware is still the best defensive player in the NFC and their three-headed monster at running back will be formidable.
The Redskins finished the season last in the East but still had a .500 win percentage. The team made the biggest free agency splash in signing Tackle Albert Haynesworth. They also signed 25-year-old CB DeAngelo Hall to a $55 million dollar deal. Add to that the drafting of DE Brian Orakpo the Redskins defense looks to improve on a unit that was ranked 4th in the NFL last year.
The Redskins however face many questions on the offensive side of the ball. Is Jason Campbell the franchise quarterback the Redskins have been looking for? Will their offensive line allow Campbell to not be the second most sacked QB in league as he was last season? Are the receivers the Redskins drafted last year going to contribute? Is Jim Zorn in over is head etc etc.
Here is a preview into what to watch for in 2009 from the leagues best division.
The Giants face questions with this WR unit. No longer with the luxury of Plaxico Burress as a safety valve, Eli Manning is going to have to get the best out of this young and inexperienced group.
Brandon Jacobs leads a tough RB group. It also helps that he has what is probably the best offensive line in the league opening up holes for him. They say that the game is won and lost in the trenches. The Giants look to have a distinct advantage in that area on both sides of the ball.
With the passing of Jim Johnson, the departure of Brian Dawkins via free-agency, and the loss of LB Stewart Bradley for the season, the Eagles defense has much to prove in 2009.
Brian Westbrook, Donovan McNabb, and Co. are poised for yet another spread-the-ball-around season in Andy Reid's version of the West Coast offense. Brian Westbrook looks to come off an injury-riddled offseason to once again be one of the best 'backs in the league.
The answer to this question lies squarely on Marion Barber and the Cowboys other two running backs—Tashard Choice and Felix Jones. You can't just replace the production that having Terrell Owens on the field yields—all of the double teams he commands and openings he creates underneath—so these backs are going to have to step their game up in 2009.
The Cowboys defense return a group that ranked eighth overall in defense last season. DeMarcus Ware had 20 sacks by himself last season. If he returns to his all-world level of play then the Cowboys defense should once again be a formidable force.
Jason Campbell was privy to insinuations and innuendos all offseason about him being traded. The Redskins front office made it very clear that he had not yet won their confidence in him and how he bounces back from that is paramount to how far the Redskins 2009 campaign goes.
The Redskins will rely on a group who was very solid last year but did not force many turnovers. They added Albert Haynesworth to the mix to get pressure up the middle and drafted DE Brian Orakpo to provide pressure off of the edge. Add that to a secondary that has three number one's—Hall, Landry, Rogers—and the Redskins D may be one of the best in the League in 2009.
Like the rest of the NFC East the Giants have many questions to answer, but their depth and dominance on both lines bode well for another season as the best team in the Division.
The Redskins defense is just too good for them not to be in the playoff hunt in 2009.