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NFC East Preview - 2009
Giants Remain on Top
Perhaps no division in football represents the "on any given day" attitude better than the NFC East. Year after year it seems to be the most competitive, toughest division in the entire NFL. 2009-2010 figures to follow suit as the Giants Eagles and Cowboys all look like contenders once again with the Redskins improving as each week passes. Here, we will take a look at each team in the NFC East along with their betting odds to win the division. We won't be going out on any limbs with our pick, which will be the Giants.
New York Giants (Odds
to Win NFC East +150) After beginning the year with a record of 11-1,
the Giants stumbled down the stretch and took an early exit in the playoffs.
The offensive and defensive lines both suffered setbacks from the 2007 Super
Bowl winning season. WR Plaxico Burress infamously shot himself with his own
gun, and is facing charges. He may not return this year. Things arenít all
bad though. Eli Manning is as good as ever. He no longer lives in his older
brotherís shadow. The Mississippi alum needs one of the new WRs to emerge as
a star. First round draft pick WR Hakeem Nicks looks up for the job. He did
an excellent job at North Carolina, and possesses great physical assets.
The Giants are a straightforward and conservative team that loves to run the ball. They lead the league in yards last year at 2,518. RB Brandon Jacobs accounted for the largest part of that number. This team is very strong all around. As previously noted, they have to come up with a marquee WR in order to make a run back to the Super Bowl. Look for the New York Giants to win 12 games and make big noise in the NFC East.
Philadelphia Eagles (Odds to Win NFC East +180) No longer the beast of the East, the Eagles have tailed off since going to the Super Bowl in 2004. They rallied down the stretch last year to earn a wildcard bid to the playoffs, and knocked off divisional rival New York in the first round. Donavan McNabb isnít getting any younger, but is still a solid player. He has never really had great receivers during his career. He connected to 11 different players for TDs last year. Andy Reid was pass happy last year, and if he relies more on the run it will take the burden off McNabb.
Although Brian Dawkins is now with the Denver Broncos, the defense is very strong. The defensive line is deep and very experienced. The secondary is also tough. Assante Samuel does a great job of shutting receivers down at WR. The Eagles ranked a dismal 22nd in Red Zone TD% last season. Improving in that category would undoubtedly help them to get more wins. As previously stated, they also must do a better job of committing to the run. The Philadelphia Eagles will probably win 10 games and make it back to the playoffs.
Dallas Cowboys (Odds to Win NFC East +275) Tony Romo and Jessica Simpsons are no more, so that means the Cowboys will emerge as the top team we always knew they could be, right? Not quite. This team is a perennial underperformer, and they have not won a single playoff game this decade. Romo must emerge as a leader and do a better job in big games. He threw three interceptions and gave up a fumble in a 20-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Drama queen Terrell Owens is no longer with the team, and this can be viewed as a good thing. He was doing more bad than good.
Special Teams is the weakest unit for the Dallas Cowboys. This team ranked 30th in punt returns last year and only 21st in kick returns. They are weak on coverage, and P Mat McBriar has had injury problems. Marion Barber and Felix Jones will have to do a better job at RB. The Cowboys ranked 21st in rushing last year, and must do a better job in that area. The Dallas Cowboys have many good players, but that hasnít added up to playoff wins in recent years. Iím wary of their chances in a deep and contentious division.
Washington Redskins (Odds to Win NFC East +500) The Redskins were all the rage in free agency, signing DT Albert Haynesworth to a fat contract. He should help to improve a defense that ranked 28th in sacks last year, but 4th in total defense. They showed little confidence in QB Jason Campbell when they tried to pursue Jay Cutler. This should concern fans and potential bettors. Campbell is still young, and could show signs of improvement this year. Clinton Portis is an excellent RB and could run for big yards if the offensive line holds up.
Santana Moss is the best WR ion this team. He led the Redskins in yards receiving yards and touchdowns in 2008.The defensive line was good without Haynesworth, and will be even better with him on their side. The Redskins need to improve in the secondary. They ranked 17th in interceptions and turnover difference last year. The special teams also need improvement. While they spent big cash in free agency, the Redskins are still a few pieces away from being a true contender. Look for them to repeat last yearís record of 8-8.