Welcome to the first installment of The NFC East Weekly Matchup Preview. Each week we will take a hard look at the various games being played by the Eagles, Redskins, Giants, and Cowboys in an effort to give you some insight on what to expect in each team’s game, and the Fantasy impact it will have.
So without further ado, let us begin shall we?
Philadelphia @ Carolina: The Eagles will basically be “limping to the barn” when they enter Carolina, and that may not go so well for Andy Reid and Co. Various injuries on the defensive side of the ball will make it very difficult for the Eagles to handle the two-headed rushing monster of Williams and Stewart.
Williams will get the bulk—if not all—of the work in this game as Stewart is just returning from an Achilles injury, and he just isn’t to be trusted in week one. This should pose a world of problems for the Birds, and if they can’t get Carolina’s ground game under control early, it could turn into a blow out faster than you can say “E-A-G-L-E-S.”
The Eagles could additionally have problems getting Westbrook in the mix as well. The Panthers D-Line can get off the line very fast, so at best we may see Westbrook with a bunch of receptions, and not a lot of TDs.
The Eagles secondary will have to prove they can survive without longtime team leader Brian Dawkins, and who better to test them than Steve Smith. If the Eagles can counter the Panthers passing game with DeSean Jackson and Kevin Curtis then the game could be a bit more balanced, but I doubt it.
Projected Outcome: Carolina 24 Philadelphia 13.
Fantasy Must: DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith
Fantasy Risk: DeSean Jackson, Brian Westbrook
Dallas @ Tampa Bay: The ‘Boys’ open up the season looking to pilfer a win from the anemic Buccaneers, and there is very little chance that it WON’T happen. The Buccaneers are short on defensive playmakers while the Cowboys are loaded with talent.
But whether the talent actually shows up is the only worry for Cowboy fans.
The Cowboys don’t need T.O to win games; they have Roy Williams, Marion Barber, Jason Witten and Felix Jones as well as ancillary players Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin, and Sam Hurd. The focus in this matchup will be heavily on Marion Barber and Felix Jones.
Jones will be favored in the Cowboys version of the Wildcat, while Barber will get the majority of the grit work; scores from both players will be plenty. I don’t trust the Cowboys receivers in this game with Williams coming off of the shoulder injury—despite declaring himself 100%—and it has already been made clear the Cowboys receivers will lose some touches to the RBs and TEs.
I like both Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett in this matchup, but be advised that both TEs combined had only 4 catches for 29 yards against Tampa last year. Tampa wants to be more vertical with their passing game, but they simply don’t have the weapons and speed, making the Cowboys job a little bit easier.
Projected Outcome: Dallas 27 Tampa Bay 10
Fantasy Must: Felix Jones, Marion Barber
Fantasy Risk: Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett
Washington @ New York Giants: What better way to open the season than with a good old fashioned grudge match between the G-Men and the Skins. The Redskins have everything to prove this year, while the Giants are waiting to see if they can recover from the losses sustained from last year.
Out of all the games to call, this one is really difficult for several reasons: The Redskins have a lot of miles on their team and a QB who has yet to get a vote of confidence; the Giants have a brand new set of young and inexperienced receivers under the wing of Manning.
There really isn’t any difference maker here either. You would expect Brandon Jacobs to have a huge day, but the Washington defense had a huge upgrade this year with the addition of Haynesworth, Thomas, and rookie Brian Orakpo.
All in all, I expect the game to be a very low scoring affair, with both defenses having a pretty good day containing each other. The Giants’ receivers are too inexperienced for the Redskins’ secondary, and the Redskins’ receivers will have their hands full with a solid Giants defensive corp. The Redskins’ running game and O-line have more mileage than a used VW bus, while the Giants running game should see plenty of action, but may have a long day ahead of them going up against Haynesworth’s 6’6” 345 presence.
Projected Outcome: New York 17 Washington 7
Fantasy Must: None mentionable
Fantasy Risk: Brandon Jacobs, Eli Manning
Quick Hits Around the East:
Omar Gaither gets the nod over Joe Mays at MLB for the Eagles, and he could provide some plug-in IDP points if you are hurting for a LB. Kevin Boss might be a sleeper pick in PPR leagues since the Giants could go to his sure hands to neutralize the Redskins in zone coverage, and for those of you who don’t know, the Eagles signed TE Alex Smith which is someone to stash away on your watch list as Brent Celek is very unproven.