Now that baseball season is in full swing, the draft has passed and the city is focused on playoff basketball, it’s time to make an attempt at predicting the upcoming football season. The Philadelphia Eagles will report to Lehigh University in a couple of months to try and recapture division supremacy and build on a mostly disappointing 2011 season.
The New York Giants took advantage of an inconsistent division and eventually went on to win the Super Bowl for the second time since 2008. As Eagles fans, were tired of hearing it. Most football fans who follow the NFL closely, along with analysts across America, would argue that the Eagles would have challenged any and all comers in the playoffs had they snuck in. To be honest, the Eagles may have been the most dangerous team in the playoffs so Giants fans should be thanking us that our team didn’t make it. But alas, the 2011 season has come and gone, and the 2012 season is on the horizon.
The Cowboys have made several moves, including a dramatic jump in the draft, to help their team. The Washington Redskins have seemingly upgraded their most important position with a former Heisman Trophy winner, and the Eagles have also made several key upgrades to help their cause.
The Giants are hoping that they can sack and pass their way to another division title. They are the only team who hasn’t made any significant upgrades, and it looks like they feel they are ready to go with the same personnel.
So here it is, after all the offseason moves and non-moves, my first prediction for the 2012 NFC East:
2011: 5-11 (4th place NFC East)
2012: 7-9 (4th place NFC East)
While the Redskins have significantly upgraded their QB position by acquiring Baylor’s Heisman Trophy winning Robert Griffin III, they still have too many question marks to compete with the rest of the East. RG3 will first need to find someone to throw to, and Pierre Garcon may or may not be the answer. He has shown improvement in each of his 4 NFL seasons, but has never been an 80 catch guy or a 1000 yard receiver.
Besides resigning the ageless wonder London Fletcher and the release of O.J. Atogwe, the defense has remained largely unchanged. The Redskins seem to be hoping Ryan Kerrigan, Fletcher and Brian Orakpo, along with DeAngelo Hall, can provide experience and leadership to a defense that will spend plenty of time on the field.
The Redskins will use RG3’s ability to extend plays, and win a few more games, but they will struggle to keep pace with the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys who all possess excellent pass rushes and superior offensive talent.
New York Giants:
2011: 9-7 (NFC East Champs, Super Bowl Winner)
2012: 9-7 (3rd place NFC East)
The New York Giants simply did not do enough to put them any higher. They may be the most inconsistent, frustrating team in the NFC. They can look horrible, offensively deficient and divided one week, then brilliant the next. Eli Manning deserves elite status as a QB, and they have a drafted excellent defensive talent over the years, but I believe they are winning in spite of their coaching.
The Giants were outrushed by over 30 YPG in 2011, and let Brandon Jacobs walk. They did draft a RB in the first round, and are hoping the 5’9” David Wilson will provide some consistency to the backfield. Ahmad Bradshaw missed time in 2011, but only reached 100 yards once. In a division with great pass rushers up and down, running the ball is the only way to slow them down.
It also shouldn’t be overlooked that the Giants finished 29th in passing yards allowed. With the ever pesky Desean Jackson, Dez Bryant and now Pierre Garcon in the division, this will surely be an issue for the Giants again.
2011: 8-8 (3rd place NFC East)
2012: 10-6 (2nd place NFC East, Wild Card)
It would give me no greater pleasure than to put the Cowboys in the basement where they belong, but unfortunately the Redskins still reside in the NFC East. The New York Giants are not nearly as talented, but maybe a little tougher than this team. However, with all of these weapons, the Cowboys will have to win eventually, right?
Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo, Felix Jones… these are the people you have to defend when facing the Cowboys. Where do you start? The Cowboys also went up in the draft to grab Morris Claiborne to sure up their secondary and, oh yea, there’s DeMarcus Ware.
Tony Romo was sacked almost 40 times in 2011, but he still passed for over 4000 yards and threw only 10 interceptions, a noticeable improvement for him. The offensive line will have to be better, but I see a better finish for the Cowboys in 2012.
2011: 8-8 (2nd place NFC East)
2012: 11-5 (NFC East Champs)
Was there any doubt? This is the logical choice all along. Besides a pretty sizable question mark at back-up quarterback for the oft-injured Michael Vick, this team is loaded and ready. Desean Jackson, Lesean McCoy, Trent Cole and Evan Mathis were all rewarded with new contracts. Demetress Bell was signed to a club friendly contract to replace the injured Jason Peters.
DeMeco Ryans was shipped in to play his familiar role in the Eagles 4-3 defense and disgruntled Asante Samuel was traded away to give way to Dominique Rogers-Cromartie. Nnamdi Asomugha will be playing a more familiar role in press-coverage.
While many see Juan Castillo as a liability, I think that couldn’t be more wrong. The way the defense finished 2011 was nothing short of dominant and he deserves another chance to bring consistency to the unit that has been hungry for dominance ever since the late Jim Johnson.
Michael Vick must stay on the field, and if he does, the Eagles will score a lot of points. With a fully healthy and happy arsenal of weapons at his disposal, maybe he will run less and therefore reduce the threat of injury.
2012 will be fun to watch, and the Eagles will once again be a force in the NFC.