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Fearless Rick's NFL Preview - NFC EAST

Rick Gagliano | July 15, 2010


Dallas Cowboys

2009 record: (11-5) Projected 2010 record: (10-6)

Predicted finish: 1st, NFC East; 4th seed, losing in NFC Championship.

Head Coach: Wade Phillips

Departed: OT Flozell Adams; PK Nick Folk; PK Shaun Suisham; S Ken Hamlin; LB Bobby Carpenter

Incoming: rookie WR, KR/PR Dez Bryant; DB, KR Adam "Pac-Man" Jones; OT Doug Free; PK David Buehler

Strengths: Defense. Returning same starting 11. Second in the NFL in points per game (15.6) and 9th overall in yardage (315.9)

Weaknesses: Inconsistency on offense. Reliant on TE Jason Witten too often in third down situations. RB Felix Jones needs to finish runs with more authority. Line needs to protect Tony Romo.

Key Games: 10/17 @ Minnesota; Thurs. 11/25 vs. New Orleans; Dec. 5 @ Indianapolis

What if?: Dallas is 6-6 following back-to-back games against last season's Super Bowl participants? No problem. In a watered-down division, the Cowboys could win their final four games - home vs Philadelphia and Washington, @ Arizona and @ Philadelphia - and still win the division with room to spare.


Philadelphia Eagles

2009 record: (11-5) Projected 2010 record: (9-7)

Predicted finish: 2nd, NFC East, miss playoffs

Head Coach: Andy Reid

Departed: QB Donovan McNabb; DE Jason Babin; TE Alex Smith; RB Brian Westbrook; CB Sheldon Brown; WR Reggie Brown, S Sean Jones

Incoming: rookie WR Riley Cooper; rookie S Nate Allen; rookie DE/LB Ricky Sapp; RB Mike Bell; WR Hank Baskett; RB Martell Mallett; DE Darryl Tapp

Strengths: Secondary. CBs Asante Samuel and Ellis Hobbs are great in coverage, FS Nate Allen is proven. If the line can pressure and the Eagles use their usual blitz package, throwing on them will be dangerous. Wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Desean Jackson are two of the best young offensive players in the league. If Kevin Kolb gets comfortable in the pocket, Philly will be a fun-and-gun offense. Kicking game is solid with PK David Akers and P Sav Rocca.

Weaknesses: Running back. Mike Bell and LeSean McCoy will take turns trying to replace departed (and often injured) Brian Westbrook.

Key Games: 9/12 vs. Green Bay (home opener); 12/12 @ Dallas; 12/19 @ NY Giants; 12/26 vs. Minnesota; 1/2 vs. Dallas (last four games)

What if?: Michael Vick becomes a "Slash" type of player, in a wildcat offense along with slinging Kevin Kolb? The Eagles could be an offensive juggernaut, and, with a solid secondary, tough to keep up with. The Eagles tried to unload Vick in the off-season, but had no takers. Could their failure be a blessing in disguise?

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Washington Redskins

2009 record: (4-12) Projected 2010 record: (8-8)

Predicted finish: 2nd, NFC East, miss playoffs

Head Coach: Mike Shanahan

Departed: QB Todd Collins; QB Jason Campbell; RB Rock Cartwright; RB Ladell Betts; WR Antwaan Randle El

Incoming: QB Donovan McNabb; OT Jammal Brown; OG Artis Hicks; rookie LB Perry Riley; CB Phillip Buchanon; QB Rex Grossman; RB Willie Parker; RB Larry Johnson; NT Maake Kemoeatu; WR Joey Galloway; WR Mike Furrey

Strengths: Newly-hired head coach Mike Shanahan is a proven winner who will put a quality product on the field. Furry and Galloway are veteran receivers. QB McNabb needed a fresh start. Offensive line may be one of the best.

Weaknesses: Cohesiveness, everywhere. The 2010 Redskins are almost completely rebuilt from last season on offense and defense. How well - and how quickly - the offense and defense jell will determine their fate.

Key Games: 9/12 vs. Dallas (opening game); 10/10 vs. Green Bay; 10/17 vs. Indianapolis

What if?: The Redskins win two of their first four home games (4 of their first 6 are at home)? They could be in pretty good shape, because the two road games are back-to-back at St. Louis and Philadelphia, 9/26 and 10/3. Following the Green Bay and Indy games, they travel to Chicago and Detroit, then have a bye. Eight weeks in, they could be anywhere from 4-4 to 6-2, if they travel well. The back end of the season isn't all that bad, so this team could surprise, but everything has to go just right.

NY Giants

2009 record: (8-8) Projected 2010 record: (6-10)

Predicted finish: 4th, NFC East, miss playoffs

Head Coach: Tom Coughlin

Departed: LB Antonio Pierce (retired); P Jeff Feagles (retired); DT Anthony Bryant; QB David Carr: DT Fred Robbins;

Incoming: OT Herb Taylor; QB Jim Sorgi; S Antrel Rolle; S Deon Grant; rookie LB Phillip Dillard; rookie OG Mitch Petrus; rookie P Matt Dodge

Strengths: Eli Manning. A savvy QB, who clicked with WRs Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith last year. Line play: the O-line and D-line are the best units on this team.

Weaknesses: Although Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combined for over 1600 yards in 2009, neither was dominant and the Giants' run-first offensive mindset floundered. Linebacking. With Antonio Pierce retiring, middle linebacker falls to Jonathan Goff, who played sparingly last season. Even though the O-line may be back to recent, dominating form, the LB corps is untested. Secondary. Allowing 437 points in 16 games was the result of a complete breakdown in the secondary, which isn't supposed to be much better this season.

Key Games: All of them. The Giants may truly struggle this season.

What if?: Eli Manning throws for 4800 yards? The Giants will finish at or near the bottom of the NFC, because that number would mean their defense is making the offense come from behind too often. Unless the defense gets its act together quickly, Manning may not last through week 10.

Copyright 2010, 2011, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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