2010 NFL Preview – NFC East

Posted: August 20, 2010 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
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The NFC East has been one of the power house divisions in all of the NFL over the last 10 years. Last year 3 of the 4 teams finished with .500 records or better in 2009 and sent two teams to the Playoffs. However, a shift in key players changed the look of every team in the division, and brings it closer to the top to bottom competitive group it traditionally is. One team’s franchise QB left for a division rival. Another hired a 2-time Super Bowl winning coach to change its fortunes. Up north, the division’s most recent Super Bowl Champs aggressively reshaped their defense to keep up. Finally, never to be shown up, the defending division champs added perhaps the most noteworthy rookie in all of April’s Draft. Needless to say, the East will be the traditional battlefield it has come to be known as.

Dallas Cowboys (11-5, Division Champs in 2009)

Offense: T. Romo-QB, M. Barber-RB, F. Jones-RB, M. Austin-WR, D. Bryant-WR, J. Witten-TE (A)

Defense: D. Ware-LB, T. Newman-CB, J. Ratliff-DT, K. Brooking-LB (B+)

The Good: They are stacked on both sides of the ball. Tony Romo (4,483 yards, 26 TD) is coming off a career year and is inheriting an offense that has already added a dynamic rookie wide receiver threat in Dez Bryant to go with the dependable Jason Witten and Miles Austin, fresh off his breakout season. The defense has very few holes, and the further development of Mike Jenkins at opposite corner of Terence Newman makes this a dangerous secondary.

Romo has all the tools to play a home game in the Super Bowl, now its about keeping them together.

The Bad: The offensive line has to hold on give Romo time to maximize those all those weapons and they are far from exceptional in pass protection. Also don’t count out the powers that be wearing them down. Jerry Jones will definitely be hard up for his premier product to take the field in February when his Cowboys Stadium palace hosts the Super Bowl and that pressure could crack down on this club.

X-Factor-Dez Bryant: The Cowboys slid up to grab the talented 21-year-old wide receiver with the 24th pick after he slid due to a plethora of post-season rumors. Dallas desperately needed another receiver to provide the consistency Roy Williams never seems to find. If he can rehab well from an ankle injury that has kept him out of most of training camp, he could become the deep threat that puts this team over the top.

2010 Prediction: @ Was (W), Chi (W), @ Hou (W), Ten (W), @ Min (L), NYG (W), Jax (W), @ GB (L), @ NYG (L), Det (W), NO (W), @ Ind (L), Phi (W), Wash (W), @ Ariz (W), @ Phi (W)

Summary: The Cowboys will face a tough schedule, but they have the talent to play with anybody in football. They should also benefit from an NFC East that isn’t as proven and strong as it has been in many years. They will be one the most entertaining teams in football. Record: 12-4

New York Giants (8-8 in 2009)

Offense: E. Manning-QB, H. Nicks-WR, S. Smith-WR, B. Jacobs-RB, A. Bradshaw-RB (B+)

Defense: O. Umenyiora-DE, C. Webster-CB, J. Tuck-DE, K. Bullock-LB, A. Rolle-FS (B+)

The Good: The subtle rebuilding of the Giants is paying off quickly. The combination of Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and Pro Bowler Steve Smith at wide receiver has turned them into a better passing team than at any point in Eli Manning’s time as starter. On defense, they have also replaced aging veterans with aggressive free agent signings of Antrel Rolle and Keith Bullock. They have a great pass rushing trio in Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and rookie Jason Pierre-Paul, and will be a handful for any offensive line.

A Hakeem Nicks' 2nd season breakthrough can take the Giants air attack to another level.

The Bad: The running game has severely regressed. Brandon Jacobs’ touchdown total dropped by 8 due to inconsistent health and Ahmad Bradshaw’s availability was also spotty due to injury. The Giants passing attack is not strong enough support the team by itself and both backs have to be ready to go for them to reach their potential.

X-Factor-Kenny Phillips: Safeties aren’t taken in the first round if they are not exceptional. When the G-Men took him with the 31st pick in the 2008 Draft that’s what they needed. He has not been by any means bad for them in his first two campaigns, but the time for a leap forward is now. Being paired with fellow Miami Hurricane Rolle could allow him to do a lot more at strong safety and a leap forward from him makes this an elite safety pairing in a defense that leans on the position.

2010 Prediction: Car (W), @ Ind (L), Ten (W), Chi (W), @ Hou (L), Det (W), @ Dal (L), @ Sea (W), Dal (W), @ Phi (L), Jax (W), Was (W), @ Min (L), Phi (W), @ GB (W), @ Was (L)

Summary: They have a solid core squad on both sides of the ball and either is capable of winning games for them. If they both stay healthy and consistent, a run for a wild card shouldn’t be stretch for NY. Record: 10-6

Philadelphia Eagles (11-5, Wild Card in 2009)

Offense: D. Jackson-WR, K. Kolb-QB, L. McCoy-RB, B. Celek-TE, J. Maclin-WR (B)

Defense: T. Cole-DE, A. Samuel-CB, E. Hobbs-CB, M. Jackson-FS (B+)

The Good: The Eagles are plain fast. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy can run past any defender in football and will be a handful to keep up with. They are very talented at all the skill positions and have an exceptional defense led by Trent Cole and Asante Samuel. The addition of Marlin Jackson at safety will make the secondary even more formidable in 2010.

Jackson's is one the game's premier big play finishers and he will count on for them more than ever.

The Bad: The running game. They finished 22nd in the League in rushing in 2009, which is a no go when breaking in a new starting quarterback like they will be this year. With Brian Westbrook out of the mix, McCoy will be given many more chances to go, but there are doubts about how much of an every down runner he can be. They have to mix in newly acquired Mike Bell frequently to push this stat up.

X-Factor-Kevin Kolb: The starter-in-waiting tag is gone and the keys to the Philly Ferrari are totally his now. He performed exceptionally in his two starting chances in 2009, averaging 359 yards per game. Nobody expects him to do that all year, but how he handles the job is key to Philly holding intact. He is replacing the greatest player in franchise history, who despite leaving in a swirl of controversy, still pushed the team to constant success. How he reacts in the hot seat is key to this team’s success.

2010 Prediction: GB (L), @ Det (W), @ Jax (W), Was (W), @ SF (L), Atl (W), @ Ten (W), Ind (W), @ Was (L), NYG (W), @ Chi (W), Hou (L), @ Dal (L), @ NYG (L), Min (L), Dal (L)

Summary: They are a solid team that is the midst of a changing of the guard. They play some tough defenses including Dallas and New York twice and Minnesota and Green Bay. They will take a step backwards during this growth period, but they should still be a solid team. Record: 8-8

Washington Redskins (4-12 in 2009)

Offense: D. McNabb-QB, C. Portis-RB, L. Johnson-RB, W. Parker-RB, C. Cooley-TE (B)

Defense: C. Rogers-CB, L. Landry-FS, B. Orakpo-LB, A. Haynesworth-DE, L. Fletcher-LB (C+)

The Good: Mike Shanahan is in town. The Redskins have been a mess for years (and still are in some regards, see Haynesworth, Albert), but he’s the right guy to get it back in order. With the addition of the exiled Donovan McNabb to lead his offense, the Skins should make some immediate progress in consistency of offense. They have plenty of running backs to choose from and a talented receiving corps, which gets a boost with Chris Cooley returning from injury.

Can the new Shanahan and McNabb combo provide the needed leadership for the unstable Skins?

The Bad: Chemistry could be a disaster beyond fixture before the season begins. It’s already Albert Haynesworth vs. the Skins; the team has even publicly turned against him. Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker are all on board to attempt to improve the 27th ranked rush attack in the NFL from 2009. That’s a strong lineup, but that’s a lot of strong personalities and the jockeying for carries could be a big problem if one steps to the forefront too far.

X-Factor-Trent Williams: Left tackle is a demanding position; only the QB is more important. When Chris Samuels’ was forced into retirement due to a sudden neck injury, the Redskins offense crumbled and drafting a replacement became a must. Williams inherits a ton of responsibility with being the 4th pick (and Washington’s only in the first 4 rounds) and holding down McNabb’s back. How quickly the rook responds will determine much of the Skins’ fortune.

2010 Predicition: Dal (L), Hou (W), @ StL (W), @ Phi (L), GB (L), Ind (L), @ Chi (W), @ Det (W), Phi (W), @ Ten (L), Min (L), @ NYG (L), TB (W), @ Dal (L), @ Jax (L), NY (W)

Summary: They will improve from their horrible 2009 campaign, but not enough to overtake any of the other three better established clubs in the East. Too much is questionable here for them to become an immediate success and they play a demanding schedule. Record: 7-9

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