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NFL Pro Football 2012 NFC East Preview

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Fearless Rick's NFL Preview - NFC East

Rick Gagliano | July 15, 2012

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles

2011 record: 8-8

Predicted finish: 11-5

Head Coach: Andy Reid

Departed: S Matt Camilli, C Zane Taylor, WR Darnell Williams, QB Vince Young

Incoming: S O.J. Atogwe, QB Nick Foles, QB Trent Edwards, LB DeMeco Ryans, LB Mychal Kendricks, CB Brandon Boykin, QB Jacory Harris, G Brandon Washington and RB Bryce Brown, DT Fletcher Cox

Strengths: With a healthy Michael Vick running the offense, the Eagles possess one of the best offenses in the league, even though Vick is often a marked man. Finishing 5th in rushing yards and 9th in passing yards last season, the Eagles still disappointed at 8-8, even though they were 5-1 in the division, but lost five more games against NFC opponents. What will be an improvement for the Eagles will be their run defense, with the addition of rookies Mychal Kendricks and DT Fletcher Cole. LB DeMeco Ryans, signed in a deal from Houston, also can help stopping the run.

Weaknesses: The secondary is still a questionable part of the Eagles defense as they were burned repeatedly during the 2011 campaign. Another issue is run support, which was poor, but may be improved if O.J. Atogwe works out at safety.

Key Games: Sun, Sep 16 vs. Baltimore; Sun, Sep 30 vs. NY Giants; Sun, Oct 7 at Pittsburgh; Sun, Oct 14 vs. Detroit; Sun, Dec 30 at NY Giants.

What if?: The Eagles are 4-2 or 5-1 entering their bye week (week 6)?

Wiht most of the tougher games in the early part of the season, the Eagles could be poised for a monumental run in the second half. After Atlanta (week 7), at New Orleans and home vs. the Cowboys in week 8, the Eagles play Washington, Carolina, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati and the Redskins again, at home, in that order before heading to the Meadowlands with a season-ender with the Giants.

That's six straight games that the Eagles could win. A six-game winning streak near the end of the season is almost a sure ticket to the playoffs or the division title. If the Eagles reach the bye week with only two losses, people will begin looking for them in the Super Bowl.

Dallas Cowboys

2011 record: 8-8

Predicted finish: 10-6

Head Coach: Jason Garrett

Departed: K David Buehler, CB Terence Newman, G Kyle Kosier, K Kai Forbath, LB Brashton Satele, TE George Bryan

Incoming: Pat McQuistan, WR Danny Coale, TE James Hanna, LB Caleb McSurdy, CB Morris Claibourne, QB Kyle Orton, DE Tyrone Crawford

Strengths: QB Tony Romo is a very efficient, gutsy player and team leader who may be poised to have his best season as a pro after completing 66% of his passes for 4180 yards in 2011. Another strength is the rusing defense, which held opponents to just under 100 yards per game last year.

Weaknesses: WR Dez Bryant needs to step it up and avoid off-field foibles which demean his status as Romo's go-to receiver. If he understands his role on the Cowboys, he could turn this into a strength; if not, the Cowboys will suffer. The secondary needs help, and the Cowboys released Terence Newman, making way for Morris Claibourne to step in as a rookie. The rushing production was only 18th in the league, but a healthy DeMarco Murray should halp in that department.

Key Games: Wed, Sep 5 at NY Giants; Sun, Oct 14 at Baltimore; Sun, Nov 4 at Atlanta; Sun, Nov 11 at Philadelphia.

What if?: The Cowboys changes on the offensive line don't give Romo enough protection?

This could pop up as a problem in the early part of the season, though Romo is as good a scrambler and play-maker as there is in the league, so, adjustments will be mandated, but it doesn't pose a big issue.

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NY Giants

2011 record: 9-7

Predicted finish: 8-8

Head Coach: Tom Coughlin

Departed: S Chad Jones, RB Brandon Jacobs, TE Jake Ballard

Incoming: TE Martellus Bennett, OL Brandon Mosley, OL Matt McCants, DT Markus Kuhn, RB David Wilson, WR Rueben Randle, CB Jayron Hosley, TE Adrien Robinson, WR David Douglas, WR Julien Talley, FB Joe Martinek, G Stephen Goodin, DE Adewale Ojomo, S Chris Horton, RB Andre Brown, QB Ryan Perrilloux, WR Isaiah Stanback, CB Antwaun Molden, DT Shaun Rogers.

Strengths: Eli Manning's ability and toughness are now unquestioned after winning his second Super Bowl. Though Manning's numbers may not be that of other QBs, he produces wins in the clutch and has to be regarded as one of the top three signal callers in the game.

The Giants' defensive line is also one of the best in the league when they are allowed to rush passers and not worry about the running game.

Weaknesses: Linebacking and the defensive secondary were sore spots in 2011 and the Gaints will be depending on a combination of rookies and acquired veterans to fill some very big holes. The Gaints were horrible on defense last season, ranking 29th in pass defense and 19th against the run. If they don't get their act together quickly, it could be another long season for Manning, who will have to put up 30 or more points a game.

Having released RB Brandon Jacobs, the Giants didn't go ut of their way to find a suitable replacement, even though they were dead last in the NFL in rushing yardage last season. David Wilson and Andre Brown are the leading candidates for at least a part-time role in the backfield. An interesting addition was Ryan Perrilloux, the itnerant QB who was bounced out of LSU for violating team rules. He has the skills to implement a wildcat look into the Giants' offense.

Key Games: Sun, Sep 30 at Philadelphia; Sun, Oct 14 at San francisco; Sun, Nov 25 vs. Dreen Bay; Sun, Dec 16 at Atlanta; Sun, Dec 23 at Baltimore; Sun, Dec 30 vs Philadelphia

What if?: The defense doesn't improve and the running game is flat?

The Giants were fortunate to even reach the playoffs with their 9-7 record. They owed much of their success to the failures of Philly and Dallas, which opened the dorr to take the NFC East. After that, Manning and a rujuvenated defense made a historic run, culminating with a Super Bowl win over the Patriots.

That scenario is unlikely to play out the same way in 2012, as Phlly and Dallas are probably better and the Giants may not have everything fall their way. An 8-8 season could be hopeful, especially with the rugged schedule the final three games.

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Washington Redskins

2011 record: 5-11

Predicted finish: 6-10

Head Coach: Mike Shanahan

Departed: FB Mike Sellers, WR Jabar Gaffney, CB Leigh Torrence, QB John Beck, TE Rob Myers, WR Kelvin Bolden.

Incoming: QB Robert Griffin III, LB Bryan Kehl, CB Morgan Trent, QB Kirk Cousins, LB Keenan Robinson, DT Vaughn Meatoga, CB Richard Crawford, RB Alfred Morris, KR/PR Jordan Bernstine, OT Tom Compton

Strengths: With the best pick of the draft, the Redskins took Baylor QB Robert Griffin III, which should solve Washington's quarterback problems for the next decade. RG3 has all the skills in addition to being a dangerous, shifty runner. However, even a player of his stature can't turn around a team overnight.

Weaknesses: Washington ranked 25th in rushing yardage last season, an area sure to be improved upon with the addition of Griffin, who may lead the team in rushing. The defense is another area which needs improvement. Washington players appeared to be on different pages of the playbook at times during the 2011 campaign and it will take a while for all the new faces to jell, which will likely result in many high-scoring games.

Key Games: Sun, Sep 9 at New Orleans (opener); Sun, Nov 18 vs. Philadelphia; Mon, Dec 3 vs. NY Giants; Sun, Dec 23 at Philadelphia.

What if?: RG3 doesn't produce instant wins for the Redskins?

The idea that a rookie - even one as talented as Griffin - can turn a team around in one season is a bit hopeful, even though it can and has been done to some degree recently. However, all the pieces aren't in place to make the Redskins a contender. The fans may grumble when Washington is something like 4-5 or 3-6 entering their bye week, but the Redskin fans will have to learn to be patient. Better things are ahead if RG3 lives and playes up to his potential.

Copyright 2012, 2013, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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