NFL Preview: NFC EastPublished 6:28pm Saturday, September 4, 2010
1) Dallas Cowboys: 11-5
Likes: The offense could be crazy good. I think Tony Romo ends up as the best fantasy QB this year and throws for something like 4800 yards and 35 touchdowns, especially if Dez Bryant is healthy. Even if Bryant is just a decoy, Miles Austin is a force. The defense is still excellent, and watch for Cornerback Mike Jenkins to really come into his own this season.
Dislikes: The token Cowboys question mark this year is whether or not Left Tackle Doug Free can replace Flozell Adams, but I actually think he’ll be an upgrade; Flozell got beat a lot last year. I’m more concerned with Coach Wade Phillips. He has always seemed to me like a glorified coordinator and I still don’t trust him with clock management, which is key come playoff time.
Overall: The biggest challenge for the Cowboys will be their ultra competitive division, which is essentially the bizarro NFC West (East and West are opposites, clever right?). I think all of the teams finish in the 9 to 11 win range just because of each other.
2) Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6
Likes: I don’t think the Eagles miss a beat with Kevin Kolb. He’s accurate and did well in that offense last year. I also like Jeremy Maclin to overtake DeSean Jackson as the number one WR on that team. Maclin was a better route runner than Jackson as a rookie, even though he came from a spread system at Mizzou where he basically just ran bubble screen and fly routes.
Dislikes: I think LeSean McCoy’s billing as the next Brian Westbrook is overdoing it. He’s decent, but he’s been weak in pass protection and he doesn’t have quite the same burst as Westbrook had in his prime. I think the running game could be a bit of a letdown.
Overall: I think they offense will be explosive and the defense will be excellent, especially with the addition of former Lions LB Ernie Sims, who they got for basically nothing. If they were in a weak division, I think they could win 12 games.
3) New York Giants: 9-7
Likes: The only reason I think they don’t win more than 9 games is because of schedule. I like Eli Manning to have a bit of a bounce back year in the passing game with a more mature Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw restoring the running game to respectability. Also, they added former Tennessee Pro Bowl Linebacker Keith Bulluck on D.
Dislikes: They’re still gonna give Brandon Jacobs some carries, and I think he’s hit the wall other big backs hit, like Jerome Bettis and Earl Campbell before him. Also their offensive line is shaky; Eli got sacked 30 times and had 13 fumbles in 2009.
Overall: Again, I think in another division, they would make the playoffs with an ascending passing game and a revamped defense. Watch for them to pick up another offensive lineman before the season starts.
4) Washington Redskins: 7-9
Likes: I like bringing in Mike Shannahan, a proven coach, but I like bringing in Donovan McNabb with a chip on his shoulder against the Eagles.
Dislikes: There’s no one for McNabb really to throw to other than his 2 tight ends, Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. Also, their plan for fixing their running game was to bring in octogenarian running backs Willie Parker and Larry Johnson. That backfield only has guys with too many miles on the odometer.
Overall: I think they’ll be feisty with McNabb in a Mike Shannahan offense, and Brian Orakpo is a perfect fit for the 3-4 defense. They still lack any firepower at receiver or running back, and Albert Haynesworth could be a headache all season.