They Might Be Giants
When asked to write a NFC East preview, I had to take a moment to decide if I could do it objectively. I'm a New York Giants fan. I love the organization and have enjoyed all the emotional highs and lows both the team and having Eli Manning as your quarterback have given me. I believe the NFC East is the toughest division in the NFL, because all four teams have the talent to vie for the crown this year. When the teams play each other, records don’t matter and home field isn't much of an advantage at all. The following predictions come with the caveat that injuries are the largest factor in maintenance of a teams success over the course of a season. Let's start at the top with, of course...
1. NEW YORK GIANTS
Las Vegas Over/Under: 9 wins
My Prediction: 10-6, first place in the division
- Last year: 9-7
- Key Additions: Cullen Jenkins, Justin Pugh, Brandon Myers, Aaron Ross, Aaron Curry
- Key Losses: Osi Umenyiora, Ahmad Bradshaw, Martellus Bennett
Yes, I’m picking the Giants to win it. We are under the radar this year. I predict a healthy Hakim Nicks in a contract year will make this offense tough to handle. Pro Bowler Victor Cruz is in the slot and it appears we have an heir apparent to Nicks in wide out Reuben Randle. If Brandon Meyers can show his coaches he can block, then the Giants won't miss Martellus Bennett even though every New York fan will miss The Black Unicorn's media sessions.
I did shed a tear when Bradshaw signed with the Colts. He personified what being a Giant is. I wish him well this year. That being said, we have David Wilson and Andre Brown as the latest incarnation of Thunder and Lightning. Wilson can score on any carry and Brown will punch it into the end zone. If the O-line can pick up the blitz, then the offense will roll.
The Giants defense struggled last year. Their winning formula is getting pressure on the quarterback and stopping the run. Neither happened and the results were ugly. As a result, General Manager Jerry Reese signed Jenkins in the off-season, resigned Shawn Rogers, and drafted an end and tackle in the second and third rounds of the draft. This is the biggest reason the Giants win the division. Their D-line will be much improved and if they stay healthy then Romo, Vick and RGIII won't.
2. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Las Vegas Over/Under: 8.5 wins
My Prediction: 9-7, second place in the division
- Last year: 10-6
- Key Additions: Devery Henderson, Donte Stallworth, Jeremy Trueblood, Darryl Tapp, EJ Biggers
- Key Losses: Jammal Brown, Cedric Griffin, DJ Johnson, Madieu Williams
When you read enough about the Redskins, you discover the consensus is that if RGIII and Alfred Morris can duplicate their rookie success and their defense - led by Brian Orakpo - can stay healthy, then the division is theirs to lose. Those are some pretty big "if's."
Unfortunately for the the Redskins, their success last year has earned them a more difficult strength of schedule this year, and if they don't win the games they're supposed to - including at least three of their first four - and their strength of schedule, especially after the first four games, then they'll have a hard time making the post-season in RGIII's sophomore campaign.
The NFL is a league of adjustments, and defensive coaches will adapt and solve the problems the Redskins gave teams last season. Anyone remember The Wildcat? I didn't think so. Stats and schedules and hypothetical's aside, the truth is I hate the Redskins. They have an asshole for an owner, a racist team name, and the scariest offensive player in the league. My dream scenario is Pierre Paul tackling RGIII along the sideline, as RGIII gets some body part broken in the collision they then both fall onto Cousins breaking his leg as well. In lieu of that, I hope the Giants beat them twice and take the division.
3. DALLAS COWBOYS
Las Vegas Over/Under: 8.5 wins
My Prediction: 9-7, third place in the division
- Last year: 8-8
- Key Additions: Will Allen, Justin Durant
Dallas is my least favorite team - not just in the NFC East but in the entire league. The Giants could go 2-14, and if the two wins are against Dallas I’ll be fine. I'm happy the Cowboys are owned by the ego-maniacal Jerry Jones, because he can't seem to get out of his own way and let go of the reins. If he would just hand the general manager duties to a real GM, I might be worried about the Cowboys.
Romo and Dez Bryant will light-up the stat sheets this season, so if you play fantasy football, grab them both. In reality football, however, Romo just fails. He will bring his team back in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns, but he'll miss a wide open Miles Austin when he plays the Giants. That was the meaningful moment and overthrow that cost the Cowboys a spot in the playoffs.
I see more of the same in store this season. Dallas is changing their defense, taking the offense away from head coach Jason Garrett, but they still have a weak offensive line and will struggle to protect Romo. The Cowboys always look “good on paper," a Jerry Jones forte, but he paid the wrong quarterback and the wrong head coach a boat load of money, and until all three of them are gone, the Cowboys will hover around mediocrity. I hope Jones lives forever.
4. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Las Vegas Over/Under: 7.5 wins
My Prediction: 8-8, second place in the division
- Last year: 4-12
- Key Additions: Connor Barwin, Zach Ertz
- Key Losses: Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie
No one is talking about the Philadelphia Eagles as a threat this year, and neither am I. With hype and high expectations coming into 2012, it's not a stretch to say the Eagles were the biggest disappointment in the NFL to fans and gamblers alike. Not only did they lose a dozen games, they also struggled to put points on the board with a shoddy and inconsistent offense. As a result, bettors watched them go 3-12-1 ATS, including a horrific 0-7-1 at home.
The result of their struggles was a parting of ways with Andy Reid and the controversial hiring of Oregon University's head coach Chip Kelly. The question marks this year are mounting up around Kelly already, as there are concerns his offensive schemes won't translate to the NFL. The health of the Eagles wide receivers is also in question right now, and maintaining the health of Michael Vick and Nick Foles is a huge X Factor.
There is still a lot of talent on this roster, which is why I'm giving them enough credit to get to .500. I'm also going to do them a favor I did not afford the Redskins or the Cowboys by not posting a picture of the Giants sacking their quarterback.