2009 NFC East Predictions
2009 NFC East preview from MadduxSports.com. After studying the NFL teams get signed up for our Free Pro Picks for the top handicappers on the internet.
2009 NFC East Division Preview
By Adam Barone
Most of the big-name talent in the NFC East is aging, but no one seems primed to initiate a hostile takeover. The Eagles appear to have the best shot at winning the division, but this is one of the most competitive groups in the league, and the crown could go to anyone.
Philadelphia Eagles (11-5): The Eagles let both of their offensive tackles go in the offseason, but replaced them by trading for former Bill Jason Peters and signing free agent Stacey Andrews to a big contract. The draft yielded two dynamic offensive talents—receiver Jeremy Maclin, and running back LeSean McCoy. Both will need some time to get acclimated to the league, but both are capable of making an impact right away. Donavan McNabb got a new two-year contract in the offseason, and Brian Westbrook had a pair of surgeries. Both should be happy and healthy going into 2009. Expect a dynamic offense that can build on last season’s 9-6-1 disappointment.
The defense finished third in the league in total yards per game allowed last season—just 274.3. The offense was actually ninth best. That leads you to wonder how this team finished with only nine wins. The defense finished third in the league in sacks with 48, and fifth-best in quarterback rating against, with a 72.9. The only difference for the defense is the loss of safety Brian Dawkins, who’ll be replaced by free agent Sean Jones.
Dallas Cowboys (10-6): The Cowboys’ offense is now without Terrell Owens, which probably won’t make anyone who has stock in Tylenol happy, but it should make Cowboys’ fans happy. Tony Romo’s targets on the outside now include Roy Williams, Miles Austin, and Patrick Crayton—in that order. Williams has just one 1,000 yard season to his credit, and will need to live up to his potential this season if the Cowboys are to be successful. Tight end Jason Witten is still Romo’s security blanket, but the offense will feature the run more this season. Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice make possibly the most dynamic backfield trio in the league. Barber has two double-digit touchdown seasons in his career, Jones averaged 8.9 yards per carry on his 30 carries a season ago, and Choice is a quality do-it-all back who is capable of carrying the full load if necessary.
The defense is led by linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who’s racked up 34 sacks and forced ten fumbles over the last two seasons. The offseason saw linebacker Zach Thomas, defensive tackle Chris Canty, and safety Roy Williams leave, and Keith Brooking, Igor Olshansky, and Gerald Sensabaugh replace them. This was the NFL’s eight best defense a season ago, and not much should change in the coming campaign.
Washington Redskins (8-8): Jim Zorn’s first season as head coach in Washington was a strange one. The first game left his team looking like a doormat, but they finished the first half of the season appearing to have a real shot at the playoffs with a 6-2 record. Then the ‘Skins decided that they weren’t actually any good, and went on a 2-6 skid, missing the playoffs.
Quarterback Jason Campbell was inconsistent too, finishing with
an 84.3 rating and just 13 touchdown passes. Running back Clinton
Portis carried a huge portion of the load—carrying the ball
342 times for nearly 1,500 yards. He has significant mileage on
him, but will only turn 28 in September. Campbell will need to step
up this season, or it could be his last as a Redskin.
Albert Haynesworth’s contract is ridiculous, but his contribution to this solid, yet less-than-intimidating defense might be just the opposite. The group ranked fourth overall in 2008, and eighth against the run. Rookie end Brian Orakpo was the best lineman in the Big 12 last season and, along with Haynesworth, could help vault this defense to being one of the league’s best.
New York Giants (7-9): The Giants are fortunate to have one of the league’s best offensive lines—they’re going to need it. Plaxico Burress is no longer around, leaving the cupboard rather bare at receiver. Domenik Hixon, Steve Smith, Sinorice Moss, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Ramses Barden, along with tight end Kevin Boss make up the sad list of Eli Manning’s friends on Sundays. Smith led the team with 57 catches in 2008. Brandon Jacobs will carry the full load at running back this season, after scoring 15 times in 2008. He’ll be pushed by Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware, who could surprise.
The return of end Osi Umenyiora is big for the Giants, but highly-touted defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo left for St. Louis, so thinks aren’t really looking up. Bill Sheridan replaces Spags, and now has a few quality free agents and rookie linebacker Clint Sintim at his disposal. The defense will need to be good, because it’ll probably be on the field quite a bit considering the expected struggles on offense.