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Fearless Rick's NFL Preview - NFC East

Rick Gagliano | July 25, 2011

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles

2010 record: 10-6

Predicted finish: 13-3

Head Coach: Andy Reid

Departed: OL Antwan Barnes, K David Akers, QB Kevin Kolb, DT Brodrick Bunkley, WR Keith Carlos

Incoming: DE Jason Babin, QB Vince Young, CB Nnamdi Asomugha, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DT Cullen Jenkins, TE John Nalbone; Rookies: G Danny Watkins (Baylor), RB Stanley Havili (USC), LB Casey Matthews (Oregon), CB Curtis Marsh (Utah State), K Alex Henery (Nebraska), RB Dion Lewis (Pittsburgh), LB Brian Rolle (Ohio State), G Julian Vandervelde (Iowa)

Strengths: Philly has become an offensive juggernaut and likely will have the best secondary in the NFC with the diamond of the draft in Nnamdi Asomugha and the acquisition of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Arizona in the trade for QB Kevin Kolb.

Offensively, teams will be hard-pressed to contain wideouts Jeremy Macklin and DeSean Jackson with Michael Vick throwing and/or running. Running back LeSean McCoy had 1080 yards rushing in 2010 and will have rookie speedster Dion Lewis to complement him in the backfield

Weaknesses: The only area of concern may be stopping the run, but it shouldn't be a problem. The Eagles allowed an acceptable 110.4 ypg in 2010 and has a blue-chipper in LB Casey Matthews.

Key Games: Sun, Sept. 18 at Atlanta, Non. Nov. 7 vs. Chicago, Sun, Nov. 20 at NY Giants, Sun Nov. 27 vs. New England

What if?: As he usually does, Michael Vick misses some games with injuries?

Really not a problem. The Eagles spotted Vince Young and quickly signed him. If the Eagles could rehab Vick, think of what they could do with Young, who was, coming out of collage, Vick's second coming. A really scary thought is having Vick, Young, Dion Lewis and the rest of their speedsters on the filed at the same time running a wildcat offense. No team could handle that.

NY Giants

2010 record: 10-6

Predicted finish: 9-7

Head Coach: Tom Coughlin

Departed: OT Rich Seubert, C Shaun O'Hara, TE Kevin Boss, DT Barry Cofield, OT Shawn Andrews

Incoming: WR Mark Clayton, DT Gabe Watson, OT Stacy Andrews, DT Gabe Watson, TE Ben PatricK, OG Chris White, C David Baas, P Steve Weatherford; Rookies: LB Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Prince Amukamara (Nebraska), DT Marvin Austin (N. Carolina), OT James Brewer (Indiana), WR Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), LB Greg Jones (Michigan State), RB DaRel Scott (Maryland), LB Jaquian Williams (South Florida).

Strengths: Eli Manning is one of the top five quarterbacks in the league, but his targets aren't of the same caliber. Still, if Manning is given protection, he can pick apart any defense. An unseen factor of the Giants' recent success has been the coaching on no-nonsense Tom Coughlin and his staff.

The running game sets up the passing attack for the Giants and if Brandon Jacobs stays healthy and returns to 2009 form, the Giants should be OK. The Giants were 6th in the league in rushing in 2010, at 137.5 ypg.

One of the best defensive lines in the league in 2010 with 46 sacks imposes itself on opposing quarterbacks and causes backfield disruptions. It will get even better if the Giants re-sign Osi Umenyiora and the maruration of Jason Pierre-Paul.

Weaknesses: Wide receiver: Sorry, but Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are not pro-bowlers by any stretch of the imagination. With a QB like Manning, the Giants should have picked up a wideout in free agency. Maybe Darius Reynaud will prove to be the possession receiver he's supposed to be.

Key Games: Sun., Sept. 25 at Philadelphia, Sun, Nov. 6 at New England, Sun., Nov. 20 at Philadelphia, Sun Dec. 4 vs. Green Bay, Sat. Dec. 24 at NY Jets

What if?: The Giants are 5-1 when they get to their bye week in week 7?

It could happen, and the Giants better not be 3-3, either. Other than Philadelphia on the 25th of September, all of the other games are winnable: at Washington, vs. St. Louis, at Arizona, vs. Seattle, vs. Buffalo. The back end of the schedule is loaded, though three of the final four weeks are at Dallas, vs. Washington at vs. Dallas. Could be that the Giants carry early-season success into a playoff berth on the final week of the season.

--- Story continues below ---

Looking for the best NFL Handicapper? Good luck. Most of them suck.

Dallas Cowboys

2010 record: 6-10

Predicted finish: 7-9

Head Coach: Jason Garrett

Departed: WR Roy Williams, WR Sam Hurd, RB Marion Barber, G Leonard Davis, K Kris Brown, OT Mark Columbo.

Incoming: S Abram Elam, Rookies: C Bill Nagy (Wisconsin), RB Shaun Chapas (Georgia), WR Dwayne Harris (East Carolina), CB Josh Thomas (Buffalo), OT Tyron Smith (USC), RB DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), LB Bruce Carter (North Carolina)

Strengths: Tony Romo's return to health has to help and the Dallas O-line should be able to protect well enough to keep him upright for most of the season though there will be changes.

The defensive line is very solid, with Marcus Spears and Igor Olshansky bookending Jay Ratliff in a 3-4 scheme, freeing up DeMarcus Ware as an outside linebacker on blitzes and straight rushes.

Weaknesses: The defense is horrible, or, at least it was last season. Dallas ranked second-last in the league in points allowed (27.3 per game) and allowed 243.2 yards passing per game, ranking 26th of 32 teams.

Key Games: All of them, but especially at Philadelphia, October 30, and Dec 11 vs. the Giants, December 24 vs Philadelphia and Jan. 1 at the Giants. Three of their last four games are against the two strongest teams in the division, so if the Cowboys don't have at least 8 wins by week 13, count them out.

What if?: The running game is anemic?

That would put more pressure on Romo to throw more often, especially on second and third downs with long yardage to gain. With Felix Jones sharing time with Tashard Choice and rookie DeMarco Murray, the Cowboys should have fresh legs, though a retooled offensive line could become a serious issue if injuries arise or players aren't up to their tasks.

No matter what, Dallas has gone from a contender to a sorry bunch of misfits in just one season.

Washington Redskins

2010 record: 6-10

Predicted finish: 5-11

Head Coach: Mike Shanahan

Departed: DE Jeremy Jarmon, QB Donovan McNabb, DT Albert Haynesworth, CB Carlos Rogers, DE Vonnie Holliday, DE Phillip Daniels, C Casey Rabach

Incoming: WR Donte Stallworth, WR Jabar Gaffney, DT Barry Cofield, OT Sean Locklear, PK Shayne Graham, RB Tim Hightower, DE Stephen Bowen, OG-C Chris Chester, QB Kellen Clemens, CB Josh Wilson; Rookies: WR Anthony Armstrong (West Texas A&M), T Sean Locklear (North Carolina State), LB Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), DE Jarvis Jenkins (Clemson), WR Leonard Hankerson (Miami), RB Roy Helu (Nebraska), WR Niles Paul (Nebraska), S DeJon Gomes (Nebraska), RB Evan Royster (Penn State), LB Markus White (Florida State), NT Chris Neild (W. Virginia).

Strengths: Youth, and receivers Stallworth and Gaffney, both of whom have significant upside. The rest of the team is pretty young and a lot of rookies are going to see playing time.

Weaknesses: Youth. The antipode of experience. The Redskins will make mistakes on offense, defense, special teams, in meetings, practice and in their home lives. The Daniel Synder circus just got better than Ringling Brothers.

Key Games: Sun, Sept. 11 vs. NY Gaints (season opener), Sun. Oct. 16 vs. Philadelphia, Sun, Dec. 11 vs. New England, Sun, Jan 1 at Philadelphia.

What if?: John Beck doesn't make it as the 'Skins QB?

That means Rex Grossman will likely be the starter and that means many, many losses. This is another in a series of rebuilding years for the Redskins and the outlook is negative.

Copyright 2011, 2012, 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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