NFL Preview – A Quick Look at the NFC East
Which Dallas team will show up this season? The one that looked like the second best team in the NFL before the Thanksgiving game against Detroit or the one that played after and lost to the Eagles, Redskins and then the Giants in the playoffs?
Now, there’s no denying the talent on the Cowboys as names like Terrell Owens, Marcus Spears, Marion Barber, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten and Tony Romo jump out at you. But that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee at most convenient stores. It’s not enough having a team with lots of attributes. You have to actually win to be successful in the NFL and not just in the regular season.
When you look for weaknesses, it’s hard to find many. As long as Roy Williams can’t cover, Dallas will remain susceptible to the long ball, unless Adam Jones becomes Terence Newman on the other side of the field. The Dallas receiving corps looks a little depleted but with the Owens on one side, the other receiver should have an easier time getting open. As for the running game, any team that features Marion Barber and rookie Felix Jones is potent, provided Jones progresses as expected.
One area of concern is whether or not Tony Romo can withstand the scrutiny he’ll face not only as the Cowboys quarterback but as the boyfriend of one of the most popular faces in the “entertainment” industry. However, he’s done a good job of it so far and with his teammates giving their approval to her presence, there’s just not much there. As long as Romessica doesn’t become a distraction — again — this shouldn’t be an issue.
Put me down for 12-4 (and the NFC East) only because they did 13-3 last season and winning that many games in the NFL isn’t easy.
Hottest Cowboys Cheerleader
Lots of choices here as we focus on the most popular cheerleading group in America. Of course, it helps when their site is set up like a MySpace page, allowing the ladies to post blog entries and pictures. Visitors can even leave comments, a service that probably has more moderators than a Chris Hansen Internet chat room sting.
Say hello to Sydney. She’s full of energy and a good friend — according to her profile, at least.
New York Giants
How do you follow-up an unexpected Super Bowl win when one of the main ingredients that got you there has changed and changed drastically? Because the pass rush provided by the front four was so important to the Giants game plan, the loss of Osi Umenyiora to season-ending injury and the retirement of Michael Strahan dramatically changes the initial defensive strength of the defending Super Bowl champs.
So what can they do for an encore? For one, it’d be nice to see if the Giants can take a more attacking style on offense, seeing how they have the tools to score lots of points. The Manning-to-Burress combo is a potent tandem that produced 12 touchdown hook-ups and is capable of even more, especially when Amani Toomer and Steve Smith around. Don’t forget about Kevin Boss either as he tries to make the Giants faithful forget about Jeremy Shockey.
Once you add the running game of Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, the Giants have the pieces to be a prolific offensive team, provided the coaching staff wants to go that route.
As for the defense, while their front four pass rush will be diminished, apparently, the Giants are going to blitz more. Of course, with players like Antonio Pierce, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka, whatever fall the defense takes shouldn’t be that big of one. With that in mind, it’s not hard to see the Giants going 11-5, a one game improvement over last year.
Hottest Giants Cheerleader
As many of you well know, the Giants are cheerleader-less. Much like Pittsburgh, I had to rely on the Internet for this selection and again, it didn’t disappoint. My first instinct was to use Kate Mara, whose family owns the Giants and the Steelers. However, once I stumbled onto Reby Sky, the “Giants Girl,” my decision was easy.
To learn more about Reby, check out this interview over at Big Blue View.
Will Donovan McNabb make it through an entire season without getting hurt, something he hasn’t done since 2004? Granted, he didn’t get hurt until the latter half of the season; nevertheless, McNabb had to miss time because of an injury. The health of the quarterback has to be the key area of concern for Andy Reid because when McNabb is at full strength, he’s been an MVP-type of player.
Besides McNabb, other areas of concern facing the Eagles are the pass rush and an alarming lack of playmakers not named Brian Westbrook. Perhaps DeSean Jackson, the undersized rookie wide receiver from Cal, can help here. While Jackson looks promising, it’ll be harder for him to produce until Kevin Curtis gets back on the field. Curtis is recovering from offseason sports hernia surgery and has no timetable for returning to the Eagles.
Until that time, expect Westbrook, Reggie Brown, L.J. Smith and Jackson to comprise the bulk of the Eagles attack.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles are looking to improve on their defensive staple; that is, getting the opposing team’s quarterback and leaving him buried in the turf. After only getting 37 sacks a team, the Eagles, a team known for their various blitz packages, are looking for a return to past glory in this department. They are also looking to improve on causing turnovers after only getting a league-low 19 last season. The free agent signing of Asante’ Samuel should help out here.
As long as all the important cogs stay healthy, it’s easy to see the Eagles going 10-6 or better; but since that never seems to happen, I’m subtracting one win, putting them at 9-7.
Hottest Eagles Cheerleaders
LOTS of choices here as the Eagles sport one of the hottest cheerleader teams in America; so much so, there isn’t really a bad choice among them. I was really close to putting the team picture here but I settled on Laura, a two-year veteran of the Eagles cheerleaders.
Like I said, I don’t think there is a wrong choice here, but Laura is certainly a right one.
Welcome to the NFL, new head coach Jim Zorn. As a reward for your promotion, you get to coach your first season in the toughest conference in the NFL; a conference where going anything less than 10-6 means you’ve missed the playoffs. Does Zorn have the team to take Washington deep into the playoffs, something Joe Gibbs did not do during his second stint with the Redskins?
While most of the attention seems to focus on the refreshing Clinton Portis, the key to the Redskins season begins with Jason Campbell. Is this the season he finally breaks through and becomes a top-tier quarterback after showing so much promise? Campbell has some weapons, including the aforementioned Portis, to help him along the way — although, the Redskins could use some young talent at the receiver position. Maybe rookies Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly can fill that void.
On the defensive side, the Redskins added Jason Taylor from Miami, giving them one of the better pass-rushing front fours in the NFL. Taylor, a sack specialist, will be paired with Andre Carter, who had 10.5 sacks last season. It looks like the Redskins are copying the New York Giants blueprint for winning a Super Bowl — that is, putting as much pressure on the quarterback with your front four as humanly possible.
The Redskins look like a team that can certainly improve over last year’s position, provided Jason Campbell progresses as expected. While I’m currently putting them last in the NFC East, I wouldn’t be surprised if they much, much better than my prognostication. However, as long as questions remain about the quarterback, put me down for 9-7; but all bets are off if Campbell emerges this season.
Hottest Redskins Cheerleader
Let’s give a warm welcome to rookie Bethany. As you can tell by her picture, she’s obviously done some modeling and like fellow newbies Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas, Bethany’s looking to bring some rookie enthusiasm to the Redskins. I think she does that very well.
Next up, the NFC South.