The NFC East will be the most competitive and closest division this season, top to bottom, with two teams making the playoffs. 1 through 4 this division features a Super Bowl contender, a vastly, improved team, a still, mediocre team, and one squad who will disappoint more than any other team in the NFC as the most underachieving team in the NFL. In Philadelphia, the Eagles will be on top, as they have a legitimate shot to represent the NFC in Glendale, Washington will surprise many, having a good chance to win a playoff game and advance farther than many would say, New York will stay around the .500-mark (again), where they belong, and Dallas will fall flat on their face, sending fans home early in tears each Sunday from Texas Stadium, rounding out the division in the cellar. I have Washington and Dallas switching places in the standings from last year. I think this division will be the most exciting to watch because of all the rivalries within. All of these teams have great fans, home field advantages, and enough talent to finish atop the NFC East, but only one will – (Eagles) -Coaches Andy Reid and Jim Johnson will lead a group that consists of: Brian Dawkins, Donovan McNabb (Healthy), and Brian Westbrook; that could possibly have Philly going all the way to their first Super Bowl Championship, having the city of “Brotherly Love” prouder than ever. This division will have many different predictions, views, and insights from so-called experts all across the NFL, so let your voice/opinion be heard as you comment, after reading the #1 NFC East Preview.
1. Philadelphia Eagles 2007 Prediction: 13-3 – This is the year for the Eagles to shine and show the fans of Philly an NFL championship. The Eagles bring back all of their key/core players to the mix in ’07 and will continue to blitz early and often with an attacking defense led by playmaking SS Brian Dawkins. Dawkins is the heart and soul of a defense, which usually is a shoe-in for Top 3 in sacks. This defense has a strong secondary with ball hawking cornerbacks in Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown; their linebacking unit is solid with the new addition of Takeo Spikes, though they will miss Jeremiah Trotter. They have a deep, defensive line featuring quick, pass rushing ends Jevon Kearse, Trent Cole and Darren Howard. Their special teams are always a strength with the accurate leg of David Akers, another reason why the Eagles are favored to win the division again. All-Pro QB Donovan McNabb, who must stay healthy, drives the offense, and when he plays, McNabb is an MVP candidate and he is what makes the Eagles go. This offense is “ignited” by RB Brian Westbrook; he helps leads the attack motoring into the end zone 10-15 times a year. The offensive line is one of the best in the league and everyone starting is at least 320 pounds. The WR’s might be a question mark, but with productive TE L.J. Smith on the verge of making the Pro-Bowl and Westbrook, who is good for 70-80 catches, McNabb has many pass catching targets to throw to. Reggie Brown will lead the way like he did last season when he averaged close to 18 yards per reception, to go along with eight touchdowns. Speedy Kevin Curtis will give the offense a lift and young WR Hank Baskett will be a tall option for McNabb also. The Eagles might have the most balanced team in the NFC and they can compete with anyone. Philly will need to run the ball a little bit more and continue to keep bringing the pressure on the defensive side of the ball. McNabb will be ready at 100% for the regular season and will lead this team far into the playoffs.
2. Washington Redskins 2007 Prediction: 10-6 – The â€˜Skins – like everyone knows – had a huge down year in ’06. They underachieved and were hit by the injuriy bug. Though they finished the season at 5-11, Washington found them a starting QB in Auburn’s Jason Campbell. He has the ability to lead Washington to a winning campaign and a playoff berth/victory. Campbell will need to improve on his completion percentage and start again where he finished off – during the last three weeks of the season. He shows poise, pocket presence, mobility, strong arm, and good accuracy to have Washington fans thinking post-season and football past December 30 (Week 17) in January. He is a leader on and off the field and will flourish starting the season from Week 1. Two 1,000-yard runners in Portis and Betts lead the Redskins on offense, giving them balance and the threat to catch defenses “napping” on pass-action passes deep. They are considered to be the best backfield combo next to San Diego’s and New Orleans’. This strong 1-2 punch will pay off and it will free up All-Pros Santana Moss and Chris Cooley for touchdowns and big gains. Both of these sure-handed catchers have the potential to get 75-80 receptions this season in Al Saunders’ offense. The offensive line is a huge plus being led by “hogs” Chris Samuels (hurt), Randy Thomas, and Jon Jansen. Gregg Williams runs a nice scheme with a very talented defense that has the capability to be Top 10 in the NFL. The safeties are both excellent hitters, (LSU Rookie LaRon Landry and Sean Taylor) as this secondary has one of the best in the league, with three capable starting corners to along with those two intimidating safeties. The defense also has enough linebackers to go 3-4 with London Fletcher, Marcus Washington, Rocky McIntosh, and LemarMarshall, all consistent at their positions. Overall, this team has the talent, game-breakers, speed at each position, and coaches to succeed in what could be Joe Gibbs’ final year on the sidelines for Washington. The results will show an exceeding of expectations for the â€˜Skins, a big turnaround, making them a far cry from last season’s 5-11 ball club with little to cheer about. This team could have a complete 360-degree change going 11-5, and it would not shock me. Washington is in it to win it and they have the roster to make things happen in the NFC.
3. New York Giants 2007 Predictions: 8-8 – The New York Giants have a good enough football team to make some noise in the NFC East this season. Whether it is a “boom” or another “clank” that is the question. They have the offense to put up 25 points a game and a defense to give back 25 a contest. Many say they will be in for yet, another long, tumultous season under disgruntled Coach Tom Coughlin. Coughlin’s on the “Hot Seat” and his team will decide if he stays or if he returns to golfing and fishing (getting fired). Therefore, the Giants will lay it all out the line for Mr. Coughlin and try to make him a winner. New York will be at the .500-mark again and will just miss the playoffs this time around. RB Brandon Jacobs will put up gigantic numbers and become the feature back, replacing “HOF” runner Tiki Barber. He will make sure people forget the loss of Barber a little more then expected. Jacobs is a bruiser at 264 pounds and he can take over the main role, running the ball close to 25 times a game, scoring close to 15 touchdowns on the season (9 – in a limited role in ’06). This RB has pro-bowl caliber written all over him and he has the opportunity to showcase his skills. The offensive line does a good job opening holes and protecting the QB, and this will allow Eli Manning to have the time he needs back there to throw to Plaxico Burress, Jeremy Shockey, Sinorice Moss, Steve Smith, and Amani Toomer. Manning will need to step up and he should, as he improved both his completion percentage and QB rating last year. He has all the talent in the world and this is his year to prove to critics wrong and put up the Pro-Bowl #s that’s expectef rom him. New York will have to stop the run better and get some results from their interior d-line if they want to make push for the playoffs. Their LB’s are solid and they have one of, if not the best 1-2 punch at defensive end. Umenyiora, Strahan, Pierce, and Kiwanuka lead a front seven of the Giants, which makes it a strength for rushing the QB. New York selected CB Aaron Ross from Texas in the draft and he will add to an already physical set of corners of Sam Madison and Corey Webster. Safeties Will Demps and Gibril Wilson are an above-average pair of defensive backs that make the secondary a good one. The Giants this year will show us if they are for real, early in the first four weeks. As they face off with all three of their division rivals, with two on the road, (Dallas – Sunday Nite and Washington) capped off with a home game against Philly, Sunday Nite in Week 4. Right off the bat, New York fans will know surely what direction their team is heading, when the Giants have a chance to either “make” or “break” their ’07 season.
4. Dallas Cowboys Prediction: 6-10 – Ya’ll Cowboy fans must’ve thought I forgot ya’ll? This is not a joke… Well I didn’t forget ya’ll, as I really think “America’s Team” is heading in the wrong direction, predicting they will take up the rear in 2007. Dallas will go from second (making the playoffs) to worst (missing the playoffs – of course). The Cowboys are in for a long year under new Head Coach Wade Phillips because of a better division and a shaky starting QB. Some may disagree, but I think Dallas has the worst starting QB in the division. All who disagree with me now, will see why I boldly proclaimed this, when the season is over with, (by about Week 10 or 11) when hollywood-Romo is pulled, being benched because of lack of production or out due to injury (offensive line). Cowboy fans will see lots of Brad Johnson and little of successful Romo in ’07. Dallas fans may have something to look forward to with their 1-2 punch at RB, starting RB Marion Barber and Julius Jones, to along with young All-Pro OLB DeMarcus Ware, and big-hitting SS Roy Williams. Those players will not get â€˜em far enough in the NFC East, as they will not make it back to post-season play in January. Romo fumbling the snap at Seattle for the potential, (thought-to be) game-winner will still be cemented in place, thought of over, and over again. Jerry Jones will be upset and Phillips might not last more than one year. Cowboy fans can set their calendar ahead for the new stadium and the 2008 NFL Draft when they get Cleveland’s “high” draft choice (a steal). The offense for Dallas is inconsistent and who knows what Owens will have in-store when the season goes south. The O-Line is slow and will not be able to protect the QB and the running game might have to carry the load more than ever. The defensive unit added Anthony Spencer to the 3-4 mix and should get plenty of sacks, teaming up with Ware, Spears, James, Canty and Co. in the front seven. Though they have an imposing front seven, the pass defense is a different story. They have talent in the secondary, but Roy Williams and Ken Hamlin are not coverage safeties – they are more known as hitters and run supporters. Dallas has pass rushers up front (d-line is bad vs. run) and run defenders in the backfield (awful in coverage). That will leave CB’s Anthony Henry and bust Terence Newman on an island alone, one-on-one against WR’s, being picked apart by opposing team’s offenses and QB’s. Dallas has a lot of depth behind their LB’s, but no depth elsewhere, especially in the secondary. This will be the problem for the talented, but over-priced defense that gave up around three touchdowns a game last year (close to 22 points per contest). Though they can score, they must be able to play better pass defense, as the D finished out the year handing out Christmas gifts with: 39 points at home to Detroit, 42 at home to N.O., and 28 to Atlanta. The keys to this year will be running the football (give Touchdown-machine Barber the ball more), time possession (defense is out there way too long), the offensive line (good enough in pass protection?), and of course the play of the inconsistent (reason to doubt) QB. Look for Dallas to have the type of season Washington put up and for them to enter into the sweepstakes for Louisville QB Brian Brohm, as a team looking for a Franchise QB with Cleveland’s projected (Top 5) high draft pick in ’08.