The NFC East boasts four teams with a chance to make some noise this year. The rivalries run bone deep, and make every game special. This season there have been some major changes and developments that leave the race wide open, and unusually unpredictable. That’s why the division is affectionately called the NFC Beast! Fair warning- it may be slightly Iggle-fied by our resident Philly fan, Sen Sogah.
It’s Time, Tony. The Dallas Cowboys have all the talent and weapons that a QB could want. He has multiple receivers, 2 solid running backs, and an All-Pro tight end. If he can’t get it done this year, then he will never get it done. He’s been electric at times, as well as seemingly lost at others. He needs to be consistent not only in the regular season, but also in January when a player’s reputation is made. The main problem will be the offensive line, which through the preseason has not shown a lot of cohesiveness. Regardless, for Romo, there is no more time for excuses. Being the Cowboys’ quarterback is a glamorous position, but not a forgiving one.
Super Dallas. No team has ever hosted a Super Bowl. This year the Cowboys have as good a chance as any. The monstrocity that is Cowboys Stadium was a by-product of Jerry Jones’ biggest dreams. It’s a signal of the corporate society we live in, and is perfect for the Super Bowl, which has become a completely corporate event. The residents of Texas may not have their expectations recognized, but the big game will be more memorable than ever.
2. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
In Kolb We Trust. Kevin Kolb has assumed control of the Philadelphia Eagles. He is a better true fit for the “West Coast” offense. His release is faster than McNabb’s and he is a much better reader of defenses. He has also shown better accuracy, which should allow Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and the rest of the offensive weapons to make plays after the catch. A large problem for the Eagles was 3 and out possesions, but with Kolb’s consistency, those should decrease. There was clearly an underground movement to have him take over at quarterback, so he must produce. Andy Reid has now tied his career path to him, so if it doesn’t work, look for a change at the top soon.
Gang Green. Last year was a sad time for all Eagles fans. Jim Johnson had built an intimidating defensive unit, built on blitzes and man coverage. When he passed, that duty fell on Sean McDermott. In his first year, the Eagles’ defense took a large step back. The injuries to Sheldon Brown and Stewart Bradley took a large toll on the team. This year, they have stocked up. Ernie Sims was signed to upgrade the LB postion, and they drafted Brandon Graham and Nate Allen to infuse some youth. It will be interesting to see if the defense returns to the amoeba form of years past.
3. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Old face, New place. Down in DC, there is a new leader on offense. Donovan McNabb, an Eagle for his whole career, has flown south to take the helm of the Redskins. He has been a steady performer, and in my view, the best quarterback in Eagles history. He brings big game experience, and talent that Jason Campbell just could not harness. If he can me more accurate than in the past, Washington has a chance to be a spoiler this year. Health, as always, is a major key for #5. He is already nursing a sprained ankle from the 2nd preseason game. But Redskins fans, don’t be alarmed. This is a quarterback who once threw 4 touchdown passes on a broken ankle.
Hey, Hey, Hey. It’s Fat Albert. Much has already been said about the conditioning of Albert Haynesworth. He was able to sign a contract worth $100 million, but wasn’t able to keep in shape enough to start this year. I don’t expect him to be Adonis, but be a professional. The team was counting on him, as bad a decision as that may have been. He was signed to be the cog of the defense, and clog up opposing teams’ running games. Instead he is clogging up the chemistry of the team. Right now, he looks like a bigger, slower version of 2004 Terrell Owens. This should be fun.
My Way or the Highway. There is no doubt who’s team it is in Washington DC. The ridiculously unprepared Jim Zorn is out, and Mike Shanahan came in with full power, and has put his stamp on this team. Signing Willie Parker and Larry Johnson to compete with Clinton Portis was a good move, even if they weren’t up to their past selves. We all know that his calling card has been run, run, play fake to the tight end. He has the QB, the TE, and the load of backs, but he still needs to work on the offensive line. The draft was a good start, so look for a much improved football team by the time December comes around.
4. NEW YORK GIANTS
The Book of Eli. Three years have flown by quickly. Hard to believe it’s been that long since Eli Manning made one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history, andstopped the Patriots’ run to an undefeated season. He has been extremely durable in his career, while dealing with a lot of turnover at the receiver position. Many are looking for a big year from #10. He should fulfill those expectations this season. He has a healthy Hakeem Nicks, as well as the always reliable Steve Smith and Kevin Boss. So far this preseason, they have looked explosive. Eli is the key to a successful season in NY, as is true of any franchise QB.
Is Brandon Done? Ahmad Bradshaw is a great changer of pace, but Jacobs has to be able to get the tough yards in short yardage as well as on the goal line. The jury is out on whether he still can. It’s silly to see someone so big tip-toeing and getting nicked up so easily. If he stays healthy, he’ll get 10 TDs and allow that Giants to be the grind-it-out team that we are used to watching. If not…it’s all on Eli and his guys.