This is the division that many are calling the most competitive in the NFL this coming season. It's certainly a far cry from what it was a couple of years ago when the only team people weren't laughing at was the Eagles. I'm still laughing at the Cowboy's Jerry Jones but that's strictly a defense mechanism that serves to keep the image of his very creepy face out of my nightmares. Anyhoo, this also might be the toughest division to pick a winner. I mean you could legitimately make a case for any of the teams to take it. There is no way you can predict the order of finish here and not come out looking like an idiot 4 months later. Obviously it's a no-risk venture for me then, so lets get to it.
Portis is out for a bit with the shoulder injury. Unless the injury is more serious than it appears he should be back by the 2nd game of the season. But then again, he didn't want to play in the pre-season anyway. One question though--if he was a little wary of injury in the pre-season, what the hell was he doing trying to pull a Hulk Hogan on somebody during an interception return? Anyway---Mark Brunell was another QB who surprised me last year. I didn't think he had much left in the tank but he played pretty decent for most of the year and most importantly got the ball to super smurf Santana Moss. Now they've got Brandon LLoyd and Antwaan Randle El to compliment Moss plus Chris Cooley (another fellow Utah State grad....go Aggies) looks like the real deal at Tight End. If Portis can get healthy and have another great year then Washington should be just fine. Of course I'm assuming Brunell is going to stay healthy and that he won't revert back to the "what the hell was that throw" kind of QB he was two years ago.
On the Defensive side of the ball everyone knows about Sean Taylor. Thug on the streets, thug on the field. It's ok to though on the field because violence is like kinda encouraged. I think the rest of the Defense will hold up and Washington makes some noise again this year.
division Prediction: 1st
Playoff Prediction: NFC championship game
So Bledsoe is the "guy" but Tony Romo plays the entire freaking pre-season game this past weekend. What do we read into that? Maybe nothing. With Bledsoe's mobility, injury from a sack is a real possibility and holding him out a lot of pre-season action is not a bad call. In fact many teams like the Redskins (cough..Clinton Portis..cough) might want to think about doing the same type of thing. But then again Romo played pretty well and if Bledsoe struggles this year you wonder if he might get the hook. Parcells isn't exactly a point in his career where he is going to display huge amounts of patience. Speaking of which, his patience with Terrell Owens will of course be tested but if Owens plays to his ability Parcells blood pressure will be severely curtailed. I hate the guy but he definitely makes the Cowboy offense better. If Terry Glenn can have a season close to what he did last year (62 rec., 1136 yrds) the Cowboy's air attack will be pretty scary. As far as the running backs go, Jones and Barber are adequate but I wonder which one will really grab the job and (pardon the pun) run with it. Jones would seem to be ready to breakout but I guess we'll see.
I really look for the Dallas Defense to put on a show this year. Although Roy Jones is not the greatest cover safety, he is one of the biggest hitters in the league and sets the tone for the defense. If Ware, Spears, Ellis, Carpenter etc. can play to Parcell's expectations this is going to be a tough group to score on.
division Prediction: 2nd
Playoff Prediction: Wild Card
New York Giants
Looking at this team's offense you see the obvious. A great running game, decent receivers, and a QB who continually looks like he just crapped his pants. And oh yeah, Eli also needs to up his completion percentage and generally improve his skills. I think Manning will improve but the undersized Tiki Barber needs to stay healthy for their offense to put up points. This offensive group is talented but just a bit volatile. Are Shockey and Burress going to toe Coughlin' seriously anal line this year? Is a talented Defense going to improve with new additions (Arrington, Madison, & rookie DE Mathias Kiwanuka)?
I see them getting banged around with injuries that will hurt them down the stretch. I don't think they will be worse than last year but they have a tough schedule and that is always something that gets understated in the fortunes of teams year in and year out.
Division Prediction: 3rd
Playoff Prediction: Just miss
I'm still trying to figure out why the Eagles did nothing to improve their offense from last season. They still don't have a legitimate wideout (which is inexcusable with all the good ones in the league) and I would hope that just because the last time they went out and got themselves a receiver it didn't work out so well, they wouldn't get gunshy. They just needed to get somebody that didn't have WARNING stamped on his forehead. That's not that hard. Also Brian Westbrook is a nice RB to have on your team but do you really expect him to be a go-to guy? They still need a better option at this position. McNabb is going to be left all alone again and will still try to do too much. He'll probably get hurt again as a result. I think it's a going to be a very long year for the Eagles. The part that will really hurt for them is to watch T.O. and the Cowboys go to the playoffs while they are on their couches again. And speaking of sitting at home and watching the braindead box---at least McNabb's Chunky Soup commercials have died down a bit. If they start playing them at every break in an NFL game again I may have to kill someone
Division Prediction: Last
Playoff Prediction: Nada