We're a little over a week away from the NFL season beginning, and college football starts this week as well. With just a few days left, I'm going to start cranking out previews by division, like I did last year.
Last year I ended up starting with the defending Super Bowl champion's division, but I'm going in reverse this time. I want to end with the defending champs, so I'm starting out east. Here's how I think the NFC East will shake up.
Common opponents on schedule: NFC North, AFC West.
Last year: 10-6 (1st), lost in NFC Wild Card Round
I feel kind of dumb after picking these guys to finish last last year. I obviously didn't realize how dynamic RGIII was going to be. Ultimately how successful this Skins team will be rests on how well he's recovered from his torn ACL. If he's not able to go in Week 1 (though most signs seem to suggest he will be), I think Kirk Cousins can hold his own. Having Alfred Morris as a running back also helps. This team can score plenty of points. My concern is whether or not their secondary will be able to hold their own. DeAngelo Hall isn't facing Jay Cutler 16 times, after all.
2013 Prediction: 10-6
Last year: 9-7 (2nd), missed playoffs
I really have no place picking things when it comes to this team. Every time I thought I had the Giants pegged, they proved me wrong. Their road to winning Super Bowl XLVI went against everything I figured would happen. So, naturally, I went with them whenever conventional wisdom said they'd fail... and they ended up failing! Eli is still a good quarterback. and the Nicks/Cruz pairing is one of the best in the league. But their defense isn't quite what it was, since the depth on the defensive line is diminished and I'm not entirely sure about their back seven. They'll be decent, but I don't think they'll have extended playing time in January.
2013 Prediction: 8-8
Last year: 4-12 (4th), missed playoffs
This past week, Michael Vick was named the starter again for this team under Chip Kelly. As long as he stays healthy, this team's offense will be tough to beat, with weapons like LeSean McCoy, Desean Jackson and Brent Celek. The issue is, Vick is rarely healthy and always seems to take a beating. So for a best-case scenario, let's say he plays 12 games and Nick Foles starts the other four. The jury is still out on him, ultimately. They've got decent rushers in the 3-4, but I'm not ultimately sold on this defense. Of course, that could be because Andy Reid was kind of dumb with those coordinators. We'll see how Kelly handles it in his first year.
2013 Prediction: 6-10
Last year: 8-8 (3rd), missed playoffs
My fiancee's grandfather lives down in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and at least to some extent follows the Cowboys. He's up to visit and we were talking a little about football the other night and he had... shall we say... some strong words about Jerry Jones. Needless to say, I don't think the local sentiment about him down there is very good. And I think it's with good reason; Jones seems to keep thinking the Cowboys are just one or two pieces away from being a Super Bowl contender. Unfortunately for him, I don't think the offensive line is that great, which doesn't help under any circumstances. As fun as it is to rag on Tony Romo for choking in big games (the Google image search is pretty funny), he still puts up good numbers, and he still has some great targets in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. But switching over to a 4-3 defense (thus moving DeMarcus Ware to a defensive end spot) is probably not the best idea out there. This all will probably result in Jason Garrett getting canned because Jerry Jones doesn't want to take the blame for his own failures and will replace him with another yes-man resulting in more mediocrity. And crotch scratching.
2013 Prediction: 5-11