NFL Midseason Predictions: Eli Manning and Giants Lead Charge in NFC East
We are nine games through the NFL season and a picture for how each division is going to pan out at the end of the season. Some of these pictures will won't last for long and some will become clear as day as the year trudges on.
In this series of articles, I will predict the fate of all 32 NFL teams, division by division. I will pick the wild card teams and simulate a playoff and Super Bowl champion.
First up, the NFC East.
Whether it be the quarterback controversy in Philadelphia, the firing of Wade Phillips in Dallas or the quarrel between Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb in Washington, the NFC "Beast" has been the center of a few of the NFL's biggest stories.
This division is full of talent and is always one of the more competitive groups in the league. Even the Cowboys, who have been a disaster this season, have a ton of great players and have the capabilities to beat any team in football.
The race is tight so far, with the top three teams only separated by a two game cushion and it is sure to get even more interesting moving forward each week.
New York Giants
Although the Giants had an off game against Dallas this weekend, they are hands down the best team in the Eastern division.
The balance they have on offense with Hakeem Nicks, Ahmad Bradshaw and Eli Manning make it extremely hard for defenses to match up and/or contain Big Blue when they have possession. Bradshaw is third in the NFL in rushing and total yards from scrimmage and Nicks is tied with Antonio Gates for the league lead in touchdown receptions with nine thus far.
Eli Manning looks poised for a playoff run and has really kept the turnovers to a minimum as of late. He is currently fifth in the league in passing yards with 2,448 and has thrown a league leading 19 touchdown passes. He does league the lead in interceptions as well, but more than half of those have been off of tipped or dropped balls, something he can't control.
They have some injuries to their offensive line, but should be healthy soon and with a defense that ranks fourth in pass defense and third in run defense, they are a substantial challenge for any team to beat. They are the most balanced team in the NFC and quite possibly the league. When they limit the turnovers, they are unbeatable.
Prediction: 11-5, 1st in NFC East
I'm not going to lie. I did not see this coming, but Andy Reid is one of the best coaches in football and his team wins games no matter who they put on the field.
Michael Vick is playing better than anyone in the NFL and this Eagles offense is extremely high-powered, as they showed in their 59-28 embarrassment of the rival Washington Redskins this past Monday night. Vick leads the NFL in passer rating (115.1) and has yet to throw an interception. His footwork has improved immensely and he is showing a lot of patience in the pocket, letting the game come to him.
With DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin to throw to, along with LeSean McCoy having a great year, this Eagles offense is very potent and has the ability to dismantle any defense.
On the defensive side, this team is above average, but is having some injuries woes in the secondary that could hinder their pass defense. They are a solid group nonetheless with guys like Asante Samuel and Trent Cole to anchor the defensive unit and keep them competitive week in and week out.
This team is dangerous, especially when Vick is playing this well. If they can keep up this level of play, I wouldn't be surprised to see them at the top of the division, but at this point in time, the Giants are deeper and more talented.
Prediction: 10-6, 2nd in NFC East
The first half of the season was a disastrous as can be for Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys as they got off to a 1-7 start and lost their star quarterback Tony Romo for what looks like it could be the season.
But with Wade Phillips finally out as the head coach, Dallas can look to the future and with a big statement win in New York last week, they have something to build on for the remainder of the season.
They have guys who can make plays like Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Jason Witten and the budding rookie Dez Bryan,t who has shown improvement each game he plays. Jon Kitna is a capable quarterback who can distribute the ball and move the offense in the right direction. The offensive line has been a concern, but they played great against the giants potent defensive front and have shown signs of greatness at times.
The defense is still the main problem and with the injuries to Terrence Newman and Michael Jenkins, they are relying on Orlando Scandrick and Brian McCann at the corner spots. McCann returned a gift-wrapped interception 101 yards for a score last week, but with little depth and huge holes already in the secondary, the offense will really have to play consistent to win some games.
They are in last place for now, but by seasons end I think they will have surpassed Washington and salvaged whatever pride left they had after such a weak start with a strong second half. Jason Garrett has brought a new style and approach to this team and they responded well in his first game and I don't see why they can't turn things around with such a good core group of players.
Prediction: 7-9, 3rd in NFC East
Washington is a team in disarray. Every year they start looking like a team with promise, beating a few playoff teams and making a name for themselves, only to sputter into nothingness come seasons end.
This year is no different.
After the embarrassing loss at home to the rival Eagles, the Redskins inconsistency problems continue to haunt them. One week they beat Philly at Lincoln Financial and they go into Detroit and throw a game away with stupid mistakes and controversial coaching decisions.
I completely disagree with the decision to sign Donovan McNabb to a long term contract, and Mike Shanahan doesn't seem to have the same magic he may have had in Denver. The offense doesn't have enough playmakers to beat the better teams in the league and their defense is just too old and are slowing with age.
They have the second worst passing defense and after giving up 59 points at home to Philadelphia, I don't know if they can rebound from such a demoralizing defeat. Look for the same old Skins in the second half as they will continue to disappoint fans and crawl all the way to the end of the year.
Prediction: 6-10, 4th in NFC East
Phil Lombardo is a Bleacher Report Writing Intern and a Featured Columnist for the New York Giants and New York Knicks. He also attends St. Bonaventure University where he is a senior studying Journalism/Mass Communications.
Be on the lookout for the next division and follow up on what my predictions will be for the outcome of the 2010 season! Any comments/likes would be much appreciated, Thanks!
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