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NFC East Mini Preview

Where will the stiffest competition for the Eagles originate this year—Washington D.C., Dallas, TX, or New York, NY?

The roster is now final and the stage set for the opening of the NFL season. For the Eagles, the most impactful decision was the correct one. Trent Edwards played his way onto the roster and Mike Kafka was released. Once Foles solidified himself as the young QB waiting in the wings, there was no need to keep Kafka, whose prospects as a starting NFL QB were dubious anyway. It made more sense to keep the veteran Edwards on the roster.

Now that the start of the season is just four days away, fans begin to really salivate. As much as fans rabidly follow “their team”, the great thing about the NFL is that out-of-town matchups are almost as enjoyable, especially when they involve teams from the same division as “your team.”

For Eagles fans, the season opener will provide an opportunity to see their two biggest rivals in the division, the Giants and the Cowboys, as the Redskins take up residence in the NFC East basement as usual.

New York Giants

The Giants are defending champions somehow, so they have to be given a modicum of respect. However, they are not the perennial powerhouses most defending champions are. Aside from their two improbable runs to the Super Bowl, they have not won a playoff game in Tom Coughlin’s eight years as coach.

Not to discredit the success they have had; any fan would take it, but in terms of predicting future success, it is not a given as it would be for most defending champions. They were not the best team in the NFL either year they won the Lombardi Trophy. Not that it matters looking back, but looking forward, it does.

Eli Manning has managed to win big games and escape Peyton’s shadow. He has not eclipsed his brother as a QB as some foolishly suggest, but he has proven himself more clutch. The Giants receiving corps is strong with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz returning.

Their weakness on offense would seem to be their running game. Ahmad Bradshaw seems to always be injured and has only once played a full season (2010) as the primary back in an offense. The Giants have always managed Bradshaw’s fragility in the past because they had quality backups. Now, they will turn to untested rookie David Wilson when Bradshaw can’t go—which may be the case in week one. This has to be a concern for the Giants.

The Giants defense turned it on in the playoffs after being shredded for most of the regular season. They ranked 27th in the NFL in defense last season. Their front seven is formidable, with the almost unstoppable Jason Pierre Paul leading the way. However, he was there last year and because their defensive backfield is suspect, the Giants regular season defense was still weak. They will improve this year, but not by leaps and bounds.

Overall, the Giants will once again be a strong team and look to be the Eagles toughest NFC opponent.

Dallas Cowboys

Peter King of Sports Illustrated disagrees. He predicted the Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC East via tiebreaker over the Eagles.

With all due respect to King, it seems he overvalues the Cowboys. They were a .500 team last year and it does not seem likely they will finish much better this year.

Tony Romo is an enigma. He is talented and puts up solid numbers, but has displayed an inability to perform in the clutch. Until he shows he can lead a team to success, one has to assume that he is unable to do so.

They are banking on Demarco Murray to carry their running game. Murray seemingly came out of nowhere to rush for 253 yards in week seven. The rest of the way, he had only two one yard rushing performances and was only able to carry the ball seventeen times over the past two weeks when the Cowboys needed him most. He has never carried the load for an entire season and until he does, it is a shaky proposition to believe he can.

Their receiving corps is comprised of Miles Austin and Dez Bryant primarily. Austin is coming off a subpar year and though only 28, seems to be on the down side. A bounce-back year is still possible though.

Bryant is supremely talented, but has too much baggage to be counted on. The Cowboys have assigned 24-hour monitoring of Bryant and forbidden him from staying out after midnight, going to strip clubs or drinking alcohol. Football is littered with very talented players too immature and lacking in discipline to succeed in the NFL. Bryant has a strong chance of joining that group.

The Cowboys defense was ranked fourteenth last season. They added some talent, but do not appear to be a top ten defense, or offense for that matter.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins might be slightly more interesting to watch with RG3 running the show. In reality, they will simply compile their annual six wins in a more interesting manner than usual this year.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles preview has been covered previously. However, it is interesting to note that Eagles fans like to complain about the Eagles preseason defense… which was ranked number one in the entire NFL this preseason. These stats mean little, but it is intriguing to examine the difference between perception and reality. The numbers tell the story that Eagles fans just like to complain, perhaps endearingly.

With no bold predictions to offer, I am of the opinion that the Eagles and Giants will battle for the NFC East division title and that two teams from the NFC East will make the playoffs.

I look forward to offering my firsthand account of the Eagles season opener in Cleveland next week. Since this is primarily read by fellow Eagles fans… Go BIRDS!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Phil McConkey September 02, 2012 at 12:25 PM
I felt the bitterness towards the Giants. Yes the Giants defense was 27th but the front line battled injuries all season. The biggest one was Justin Tuck's neck injury. JPP is a beast but let's see what a healthy Justin Tuck does this year along side. And besides the Pats has their been any " perennial powerhouses" in recent years that were superbowl winners. Hakeem Nicks is a stud on any team. Eli Manning makes Victor Cruz really good as he did with Steve Smith. And no predictions from you? C'MON MAN
Mike Diviney September 02, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Yes, animosity- thinly veiled at best. Everyone has injuries- pls keep it to yourself Phil. Just about every Super Bowl winner has been in the hunt in the years before and after winning it. The Steelers, Colts, Saints, Patriots, Packers for instance were very strong before and after.
Mike Diviney September 02, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Hakeem Nicks is good, but he clearly became number 2 to Cruz last year. Cruz had more receptions, almost 400 more yards and more TD's. I wouldn't classify a number 2 receiver as a stud.
Jack Walden September 02, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I believe you have it about right. The Giants are going to battle the eagles for division supremacy. I would be surprised if Dallas was much better than third and i would be more surprised if Washington was much better than 4th. The Eagles have a good chance to win hd division with or without Vick. GO BIRDS!
Mike Diviney September 02, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Wow. I don't love Vick, but I think the continuity suffers when the starting QB gets injured. However, Andy weathered the storm with Koy, AJ and Jeff Garcia so who knows. Hopefully, Vick gets off to a fast start and plays well and we won't have to worry about it.
Larry O'Doyle September 04, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Agree with the majority of your analysis and once again the NFC East will prove to be the toughest division in football. The talent differential between the top 3 teams (Phi, NY, Dal) is minimal making the race for this year's division crown tighter than Jerry Jones' grotesque face. The Birds' hopes of reclaiming their division hinges as much on the left arm of Mike Vick as the promising future of this great country does on the re-election of Obama. I'M IN! GO BIRDS!!!!!!
Mike Diviney September 04, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Uh, there is no political commentary allowed on this message board (especially when it's retarded and misinformed). I agree the race will be tight. One of those teams will take a backseat and miss the playoffs. My guess is that team will be Dallas.
Gary B September 04, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Well said Mike, well said.
Mike Diviney September 04, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Thank you Gary. As an aside, I am looking for BIG things from Kendricks this year. He looked like a sideline to sideline LB in the preseason. Though expectations have to be tempered because he's still a rookie, he's got all the tools.
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) September 04, 2012 at 07:03 PM
It's just frustrating to think that the first game is against Cleveland. If the Eagles win, there's no real barometer for expectations. If they lose, the doomsayers will be out in full force. All you really want to see is that they don't look past the Browns and that they don't let off the gas. I'm handicapping the team to take 3 of 4 match-ups against the NFC South this year, and split against the AFC North. You hope they beat Arizona and Detroit and come out a little better than .500 against the NFC East. Could be looking at 10-6, conservatively. Will it be enough to make the postseason?
jblaze September 05, 2012 at 01:28 PM
E-A-G-L-E-S......EAGLES, it's officially football season. Giants suck,redskins suck and cowboys choke. It's our year if we stay healthy
Mike Diviney September 05, 2012 at 07:48 PM
It would be unlikely that 10-6 will not make the postseason. See the Giants making it at 9-7 last year. As far as the opening with the Browns, I think it's a good thing. Starting with a win is important, but not essential. If they were to lose to the Browns, outright panic would ensue. Keep your fingers crossed and if they start 1-0, that's good enough.
Mike Diviney September 05, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Well said. I'd like to think that's all true. However, we'll know more about the Giants-Cowboys game tonight. GO BIRDS!!!
Mike Diviney September 06, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Hmmmmm, so far it looks like I was wrong. Either the Giants aren't as good as I thought or the Cowboys are better. Hard to draw too much from the first game, but the Cowboys did look like the better team. Then again, Tony Romo will probably still play like Tony Romo towards the end of the season, when it really matters.
Mike Diviney September 06, 2012 at 03:39 AM
His numbers weren't bad, but I still don't think Bradshaw is a dynamic, 16 game back.
Mike Diviney September 06, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Lastly, the officials made a couple of bad calls tonight, but that's normal. They weren't the train-wreck we feared... yet.
Porterincollingswood September 06, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Giants defense looks like trash, but it always does in the early stages of the season. The running game was quickly abandoned, and Eli seemed out of sync with his WR's...but that also happens from time to time. They could quickly rebound. Dallas looks decent, pass sets up the run I guess. Ogletree is the new Robinson. Romo looked like Jake Plummer...the more pressure he got the better he seemed to throw. Defense better than I thought. Too early to tell, but neither team strikes me as running away with anything.
Porterincollingswood September 06, 2012 at 04:04 AM
NY pass rush really diminished as the game went on, despite total lack of running game on the part of the Cowboys early on. That's a surprise. Got worn down, and then Murray started to gash them.
Mike Diviney September 06, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Agree that the Giants can look brutal one week and like world-beaters 3 weeks later. Also agree Dallas' defense looked better than I thought- those new corners really help them, unfortunately. Cruz flat out dropped at least 3 balls- good to see.
Mike Diviney September 06, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I watched the whole game and outside Murray's 48 yard run, I didn't think he did much. Turned out he had 131 yards. Giants badly lost the numbers battle. Didn't realized there were 17 accepted penalties, 13 on Dallas. Too many. I might have spoken to soon on the officials.
Mike Diviney September 06, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Phil McConkey strangely silent. Wonder if he watched the game or if halftime was bedtime as it would be for a FRAUD fan? Phil?
Phil McConkey September 08, 2012 at 12:52 PM
sorry guys. Finally felt good enought to get out of bed. My team really let me down. I've been sulking since Thursday night, laying in bed wearing the same clothes, eating nothing but cold chicken wings. Is that what real fans do?
Mike Diviney September 10, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Nope Phil, just watch the game, maybe discuss it with a few fellow fans (good luck finding those around here being a Giants fan. All while working, maintaining relationships and enjoying a fun past time like football. Not sure why a guy like you can't prioritize like we all do. It doesn't involve shutting down the important life functions we all handle along with rooting for a team. Seems pretty elementary.
Fabiola Et September 24, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I am singing "Fly Eagles Fly....victory" (lol)

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