NFC East at a glance
The NFC East showcases some of the most experienced and admired head coaches in the NFL, Bill Parcells, Joe Gibbs, Tom Coughlin and Andy Reid. In terms of talent, player-wise the NFC South has some of the strongest in the NFC, but if you are looking for a chess match between coaches then the East shouldnít disappoint you all year. I believe that the two wild card teams will be coming out of the east and the south, picking the wild cards is tricky, but picking the winner of this division is a little more clear cut.
The Giants will win this division after surprising the hell out of me last season. Eli Manning had a stellar year and Tiki Barber busted out of the gate and never slowed down, 2390 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns. That touchdown total is a little misleading because if Burress, Shockey and Toomer hadn't caught 7 td's a piece Barber would've undoubtly had more (oh yeah they have some receivers in NY). In fact, if Shaun Alexander hadnít broken it off last year Barber wouldíve gotten my vote for the MVP. This team is possibly the most balanced in the NFC, they strengthened their line-backing core with the additions of Lavar Arrington and Barrett Green, their secondary with R.W. McQuarters, Sam Madison and Will Demps and their offense with the signing of OT Bob Whitfield and drafting Sinorice Moss out of Miami. Itís hard to find holes in this team and they might end up with the best record in the NFC.
The Cowboys might have a shot at the playoffs this season, and of course the biggest news for this team was the signing of T.O. to this haggard squad of receivers. If I may exercise my mastery of the obvious domain for a moment, Ownes will have an immediate impact on this team because regardless of what we think of his personality the man can flat out catch the damn football. Having T.O. will also give Bledsoe more options in the passing game, Jason Witten, Terry Glenn and rookie Skylar Green should have the opportunity to shine. Green should also help Dallas out in their special teams, an area in which they struggled last year. The question mark for this team is their offensive line, Drew Bledsoe was sacked 49 times last year and the Cowboys were unable to produce a 1000-yard rusher. Parcells is good for at least 3 wins by himself though, and every team that plays them should take them extremely seriously.
The Eagles have a strong defense, Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis are the backbone of a young talented secondary, Jeremiah Trotter captains a excellent linebacking corps and Jevon Kearse has been doing his best to strengthen a weakened D-line. Weak D-line or no, that is not why Philadelphia will fail this year, the reason they will fail is the inability to score any points. Their WRís are still maturing, to put it delicately, and they have absolutely no running game. For example, three RBís and Donovan McNabb could only manage to produce 1132 yards on the ground! There are 13 tailbacks that rushed for more than that by themselves last season. Brian Westbrook did manage to catch 61 balls, but that production falls under the category of the passing game and believe me, they will need every yard they can get out of the passing game. Terrell Owens ****ed this team over and it will take at least a year before the antiseptic begins to heal their sphincter.
And bringing up the rear is the hogs from DC, the bright spot for this team is the potential for success in the passing game, which isnít a staple for Joe Gibbs' attack. Mark Brunell showed everyone last year that he still had some game left and the front office got him some new friends to play catch with, Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El are solid additions to the already established weapons of Santana Moss and David Patten. Brunell isnít lacking for good TEís either Chris Cooley had a monster year last year and Christian Fauria always has been a solid player. I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that Clinton Portis had 1500+ yards last year for this team. The problem is defense...there is none, the safety positions are solid but they have only two serviceable line-backers, one CB worth his salt and no one to play on the D-line. The Redskins have 5, count them, 5 rookies on the roster for the DT position and the projected starters at DE are Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn. Who is going to start opposite of Shawn Springs? Carlos Rodgers? Chris Hawkins or Kenny Wright? All of these youngsters are going to have to have huge years in order for the Skins to sniff the ass-end of the playoffs, hold on hogs itís going to be a while.
(I wrote this article at the beginning of the year and I still think most of what I have written is going to hold true.)