NFL football isn’t going to miss a beat in 2011. That feels great to say. After months and months of talking about class action lawsuits and revenue sharing models, we’re finally back to the only business of football we all really care about—the business that takes place on the field and on our TV screens every Sunday in the fall.
Because the lockout shortened the free-agency period and the preseason as a whole, this year more than ever there’s a deluge of information for football fans to digest in a short period of time. Every team in the league has changed some portion of their roster that will directly affect the way the team looks and plays this year. Keeping up with all the changes is tough in most years; this year it’s the hardest it's ever been.
That’s why in the coming weeks I’ll be giving you all the knowledge you’ll need to enjoy the upcoming NFL season—or to finally win a football argument with that know-it-all guy in the office who always gets the last word when you’re at the printer. Either way, you’re welcome.
I’ll dole out it all out division by division, giving you about two divisions each week as we make our way through the preseason.
Today, I bring you the NFC East, always an interesting division with great historical rivalries and franchises. This year the division has ramped things up a notch with high-profile player acquisitions and high-profile trash-talking. The NFC East will once again be competitive and fun to watch.
Before we begin our pigskin journey, let’s get one thing out in the open: I don’t make specific predictions. I won’t tell you how many wins the Cowboys are going to get or who is going to lead the league in rushing yards. If I knew that with any certainty, I would be on a plane to Vegas and the next time your heard of me would be as the star of some new bizarre urban legend that could only happen to a guy who just won a boatload of money in Sin City, not sharing all this knowledge with you.
What I can do is attempt to compare the teams to each other, especially to the other teams that they’ll be competing against for division titles and playoff spots. I’ll tell you who got better from last year and who got worse. I’ll give you a good idea of what to expect from every NFL team in 2011.
I break each team down by the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. I’ll let you know the best new players on the team, the players the team lost that will hurt them the most this year, as well as who will be the key player on both offense and defense for all 32 teams.
The key player isn’t necessarily the best player on that side of the ball, but more importantly, they’re the player that the team’s success hinges on the most. If the key player has a better than expected season, so will the team. And if they have a subpar year, so will the team.