NFC East Predictions
The New York Giants won the NFC East last season with a lackluster 9-7 record. They got hot at the right time, beating the Dallas Cowboys at home in Week 17 in a game that decided the division title. The Giants would go on to win the Super Bowl in impressive fashion. Dallas (8-8) and Philadelphia (8-8) each underachieved last year, while Washington (5-11) finished at the basement of the East once again.
I don’t believe a 9-7 record is going to win this division again in 2012. The Cowboys and Eagles should each be stronger, and the Giants have hardly lost anything from their championship team. Even the Redskins have upgraded their roster, making this arguably the toughest division in the league. Here is a brief overview of every team, as well as my prediction on how the final NFC East standings shape up.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-4) – The “Dream Team” did not live up to their nickname at all last year. Despite being one of only three teams to finish Top 10 in the league in total offense (No. 4) and total defense (No. 8), the Eagles managed just an 8-8 record. They outgained opponents by a whopping 74.2 yards per game as well. What really hurt them was a -14 turnover differential, which prevented Philadelphia from capitalizing on its massive yardage differential. If Michael Vick can stay healthy, the Eagles will have one of the top offenses in the league once again. I love the additions of MLB DeMeco Ryans from Houston and rookie SLB Mychal Kendricks (California) as the linebacker corps was the one unit that needed upgraded. Philadelphia will win the East and make it to the Super Bowl in 2012. This team will finally live up to the hype.
2. Dallas Cowboys (10-6) – Blown leads really cost the Cowboys a playoff berth last season. They let a 14-point fourth quarter quarter lead slip away against the New York Jets, and allowed a 27-3 third quarter lead go by the wayside against the Detroit Lions. Even with those losses, they were still 7-4 and leading the East. Things unraveled after that as they froze their own kicker and lost to Arizona in overtime, while also blowing a 34-22 lead at home over the Giants with 5:41 remaining. Dallas has upgraded its most vulnerable unit this offseason. The secondary welcomes in CB Brandon Carr from Kansas City. The Cowboys also traded up to draft rookie CB Morris Claiborne (LSU) in the first round. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan can now feel comfortable using his blitz packages at will knowing he has two shutdown corners on his side. The offense should be as explosive as ever with Romo and one of the best sets of skill players in the league. Dallas will be a Wildcard team in 2012.
3. New York Giants (10-6) – The Giants pulled off several fourth-quarter comebacks last season and still finished just 9-7. Eli Manning was arguably the MVP of the league with his ability to will his team to victory. After thumping Atlanta at home in the first round, the Giants went on the road and won at Green Bay and at San Francisco to reach the Super Bowl. New York would hoist the Lombardi Trophy by beating New England in the big game for the second time in five years. This team got hot at the right time, and they simply would not be denied. With almost everyone back from that championship team, the Giants figure to be a force once again. I just don’t think they are going to bring the same intensity they did last year, and there’s no way they pull off as many miraculous comebacks as they did in ’11. What’s their reward for winning the Super Bowl? How about the toughest schedule in the NFL. They must play Green Bay and San Francisco this season with both of those teams looking for revenge, and I believe they’ll get it. I have the Giants winning up to 10 games this year, but that won’t be enough to get them into the playoffs.
4. Washington Redskins (7-9) – The Redskins are coming off their third straight last-place finish in the NFC East with a 5-11 record in 2011. Their only highlight was beating the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants twice, which was impressive to say the least. To try and get this franchise headed in the right direction, management traded three first-round picks to move up to get rookie QB Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. With the Heisman Trophy winner on board, there are a lot of signs pointing upward this year. Washington was -14 in turnover differential last season, and it was only outgained by 3.1 yards/game in ’11, which is a number that would reflect an 8-8 team. They also failed to capitalize on red zone opportunities and had 65 starts lost to injury. I like the additions of WR’s Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan, as well as S Tenard Jackson. However, after playing the No. 18 schedule last season, the Redskins will face the No. 3 schedule in 2012. They’ll improve from last year by only a couple wins due to this brutal schedule.
Individual Team NFL Season Predictions