Thursday, August 29, 2013

NFC East Preview

Leading up to opening Thursday Night of the 2013 NFL Season, I will preview each division with snippets on each team in that division. They will lead up to opening night when my full predictions and first fantasy column will be released.

The NFC East is always a talking point of a division, despite the overall lack of quality in the division. Thanks to the brands in the division, we get to hear about this division race every day in perpetuity. Sometimes it makes me wish the Cardinals were back in the division. For the last two seasons in a row the division title was won in the final game of the season, and will this year make it 3?

The Giants are a fascinating football team, with their great strengths matched by puzzling weaknesses. They seem to always have injury concerns, which are continuing to mount with Jason Pierre-Paul still on PUP, David Baas likely to miss some time, and Victor Cruz in a walking boot. Couple that with depth issues in place, and the Giants aren't inspiring all that much confidence from some corners. While Eli and his receivers will be fine, they will need David Wilson to break out in order to really improve on offense. On defense there are depth issues in the secondary and on the defensive line, and they have a terrible group of linebackers. Yet, they're my division favorites. Tough crowd, eh?

The emergence of the Washington Redskins wasn't entirely a big surprise, but just how they turned around what looked to be a dead season was amazing. So, how do they improve in year two? By improving very little, actually. They will get Brian Orakpo back after missing all of last season with a pectoral injury, and their young team is one year older, which means they should be more game this season. But, there are no visible personnel improvements anywhere on the roster, which means their defense still has holes in the secondary and on the front 3, and there's the ever-lingering worry that Robert Griffin III won't be able to stay healthy. They could certainly win the division, but they're not my clear cut favorites.

Ah, Dallas. The NFL's bluster team. So much talk, yet so little of anything on the field to back them up. They are also a lot like the Redskins in that personnel improvements are hard to find at this point. They'll still have a potent offense with Bryant, Austin, Witten, and Murray being the main weapons for Tony Romo, and they'll still have a very good pass rush with Ware and Spencer. But, their offensive line still has massive holes, and their secondary is still likely to have problems, especially with the QB's in this division. If those units can play a little bit above their heads this season, the Cowboys can win the division. But they'll more than likely finish 8-8 and Jason Garrett's seat will burn once again.

In Philadelphia, the first regime change at HC is one that provides a lot of intrigue. With Chip Kelly at the helm, their offense is going to be one to watch, and it suits newly anointed starter Michael Vick very well. And, LeSean McCoy might actually get a consistent amount of carries this season since Andy Reid is no longer the coach! But, their defense is problematic everywhere, not only because of the switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4, but because the personnel changeover will take some time in order to take effect in more noticeable form. The Eagles will likely be involved in some of the league's most interesting games all season, mainly because the score will likely be 38-35 more often than not.

To summarize... The Giants have injury problems and personnel holes that are sizeable but are my division favorites because the other teams don't inspire confidence, the Cowboys and Redskins are almost spitting images of themselves from a year ago, which means not much will change with them, and the Eagles will be an entertaining team because their offense will light it up and their defense will get lit up. It might not be a division filled with great teams, but at least the games will be entertaining.

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