Well, its almost that time of the year! The preseason is almost to an end and its about time for the regular season to get started! I know all my football fans are excited! I know I am. Well, to help get everyone in the football frame of mind, I’m going to preview every team in every division, starting with the NFC East! Here we go!!!
Is this the year for the Cowboys? Some think that they can win the NFC East and some think they are flat out crazy. The Dallas Cowboys dropped some key players offensively this off-season as a result of the new salary cap restrictions. Gone are RG Leonard Davis, RT Marc Columbo, C Andre Gurode, WR Roy Williams and RB Marion Barber. It ought to be interesting to see how the newer and younger pieces respond to expanded roles. Its now or never for Cowboy QB Tony Romo. He has showed flashes of brilliance and moments of insanity as well. He must show some consistency this year for the Cowboys to have any shot to make the playoffs. RB Felix Jones now gets the starting nod with Marion Barber shipped out of town. He bring explosiveness, but he also brings an injury-riddled career as well. It should be interesting to see if he can be a consistent producer for the Cowboys. If he gets injured, it could be time for Tashard Choice could be the right choice in Dallas. WRs Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten have the potential to be and explosive trio, but all this explosiveness could be halted if the revamped offensive line doesn’t get it done.
On defense, Wade Phillips exits and Rob Ryan enters. Expect extreme pressure from all angles as Ryan is relentless in bring pressure. OLB DeMarcus Ware should have a big year in Ryan’s defense and continue to be a monster. If he absorbs a lot of attention, expect OLB Anthony Spencer to have a breakout year. As far as the rest of the defense, S Abram Elam was a great addition and he gets Ryan’s scheme. Other than that, the Cowboys secondary better hope they get great pressure from the LBs and D-lineman because Mike Jenkins and crew will get exposed.
As for the special teams on this team, they are always an adventure. It should be fun to see what happens there, but I hope the Cowboys use Dez Bryant as a punt returner. He is their best playmaker.
Prediction: 9-7, T-2nd in the NFC East
New York Giants
The Giants definitely have their work cut out for them in this division. Brandon Jacobs has now been supplanted by Ahmad Bradshaw as the main RB in Gotham. He brings a toughness with him and with he and Jacobs, the Giants ground game could be trouble. Eli Manning lost two of his most reliable weapons this off-season, TE Kevin Boss and WR Steve Smith. Its imperative that WRs Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nix step up to the plate and be consistent, especially on 3rd down, where Smith was Mr, Consistent for Eli.
On defense, gone are Barry Cofield and Chris Canty and the lone standing veteran D-lineman are DEs Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. These two with a mix of Jason Pierre-Paul in D-coordinator Perry Fewell’s offense could cause serious problems for opposing offensive. At LB, Michael Boley must be healthy this year. He cannot afford to be injured this year for the Giants because they don’t have the luxury of quality depth due to injuries. But the biggest issue for the Giants will be their DBs. They have suffered some serious injuries to some DBs this year. They have lost four DBs already this year, including CB Tyrelle Thomas, who was their most talented corner. It should be interesting to see what Perry Fewell can create this year with his defense.
On special teams, WR Devin Thomas could make a huge impact on kickoff returns and this could be his way of making the team. As far as kicking, Lawrence Tynes will be Mr. Consistent and Matt Dodge may continue to be Mr. Inconsistent. Ultimately, I think the Giants will be ok this year and not do as bad as some expect them to do.
Prediction: 9-7, T-2nd in the NFC East
The so-called “Dream Team” has a lot of optimism going into this year. They brought in the prize of the free agent market, CB Nnamdi Asomugha, as well as DE Jason Babin, DT Cullen Jenkins, DB Dominique Rogers-Cromartie(via trade), RB Ronnie Brown and QB Vince Young. The Eagles let it be known that they are going for it all this year. Offensively, they have explosiveness on offense at every position. WRs Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin could take it the distance with each touch. These two guys with the addition of Steve Smith from the Giants make for a good WR crew that will scare teams in this division. The addition of Ronnie Brown gives the Eagles a physical back to go along with the smoothness and explosiveness of LaSean “Shady” McCoy. All these weapons with QB Michael Vick could be highly entertaining to watch. But if they get no blocking from a subpar offensive line, then the offense will struggle.
On defense, the Eagles have great players at every level but LB. The Eagles could use LB Lofa Tatupu right about now, but for now they will have to get it done with rookie LB Casey Matthew, LB Jamar Chaney and crew. If these guys play well, this Eagles defense could be outstanding. If not, the TEs in the NFC East could have a field day.
As far as special teams, the dismissal of K David Akers will be felt this year. They may have found a replacement, but I don’t think there’s any replacing Akers. Also, look for DeSean Jackson to get less touches in the return game this year so the Eagles can preserve him for offense. The Eagles are the class of this division.
Prediction: 12-4, 1st in the NFC East
The Redskins went into the off-season with intentions on trading QB Donovan McNabb. They succeeded in doing that, but who’s the replacement? Enter Rex Grossman and John Beck. I think this battle will go down to the wire, but Rex will be the opening day starter. He has earned that position. RB Tim Hightower now gets his chance to be the feature back after his jettison from Arizona. Hightower runs hard and he should benefit from Shanahan’s downhill running scheme. WR Santana Moss continues to be the feature WR in DC, but they went and got him help this off-season in WRs Donte Stallworth and Jabbar Gaffney. This trio along with Anthony Armstrong and TE Chris Cooley should be formidable against the DBs in the NFC East. The real question will be the offensive line. Will they get it together in the second year under Shanahan?
On defense, OLB Brian Orapko will continue to be a beast on the outside, but now he has a new tag team partner in Adam Carriker. Carriker is a high-energy guy who is constantly working to make something happen. The ageless wonder, London Fletcher, patrols the middle still. He should benefit from having some guys at NT that fit the 3-4 more than the previous unnamed guy in the middle. CB DeAngelo Hall, S LaRon Landry and crew are some serious ballhawks and it should be interesting to see what they will do in their second year under D-coordinator Jim Haslett.
As far as the special teams, the Redskins could be pretty vanilla here. Their kicking situation is uncertain and the return game looks to not be that explosive. It could be a long year in DC.
Prediction: 6-10, 4th in the NFC East
Division MVP: Michael Vick
Best Rookie: OT Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys