Many say that predicting the NFL season is like trying to win the
Idaho lottery: it’s pretty much a crapshoot.
In the past, I’ve experienced that for myself.
And it’s easy to see why: there are only sixteen weeks in a season, teams can get really hot or really cold really fast, players can go down with season-ending injuries, others come from out of nowhere to make a name for themselves, etc.
You can go on and on with any number of reasons why the NFL is so hard to predict.
But yet, we media members are going to go right ahead and predict it anyway.
So, without further ado, I bring to you my annual NFL prediction columns.
As we head out into the preseason, I will take a look at the NFL, division-by-division.
I’ll give you my thoughts on each team in that division, why I think that team will/won’t be any good this season, and give you an estimated order of finish in that division, one through four.
Today is the last day for the NFC, as I look at the NFC East, a division that’s always loaded with great talent and even better rivalries.
: the defensive-minded Wade Phillips enters his sixth season as a head coach in the NFL, his first with the Cowboys, after his recent stint as the defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers.
: the Cowboys’ offense is one that’s focused more around the passing attack than the two-headed running back monster in Julius Jones and Marion Barber.
Tony Romo is back and is ready for his first full season as
Dallas’ first-string quarterback.
Sure, he has Brad Johnson at second-string, but right now, this is Romo’s team.
He’s got weapons all around him; guys like Terrell Owens (you remember him, right?), Terry Glenn, Patrick Crayton, and even tight end Jason Whitten.
He’s got a decent offensive line to help make sure he’s not running for his life every play.
And, oh yeah, he has the two-headed beast right behind him to take some pressure off.
: Wade Phillips was brought in by Jerry Jones to help finalize the Cowboys’ 3-4 defensive switch.
Right now, nobody knows the 3-4 defense quite like Wade Phillips.
The Cowboys also drafted Anthony Spencer, the defensive lineman out of Purdue.
They made sure they kept a lot of their key defensive players.
The big question will not only be Greg Ellis’ switch from defensive lineman to linebacker, but also his contractual status.
Ellis has been a defensive lineman for the nine years he’s been in the NFL so far; a switch to outside linebacker may be harder than it appears.
Plus, it’s difficult to make that switch when you’re holding out.
: with arguably the best-looking defense in the division, a young up-and-coming quarterback with plenty of weapons, and a coach that’s fluent in the 3-4 defense, I truly believe the Cowboys could be one of the three or four teams in the NFC that could contend for a trip to Super Bowl 42 in
How fitting would that be?
: NFC East Division Champions
: (for how much longer is anybody’s guess) Tom Coughlin
: Tiki Barber’s retirement leaves a gaping hole at running back.
Brandon Jacobs could very well be a great replacement for Barber.
But, time will tell that story soon enough.
It just doesn’t look good when Jacobs and former Browns running back Reuben Droughns are your two running backs one offseason after Tiki Barber retires.
Eli is back, though.
The little brother of Colts QB Peyton Manning is returning with some familiar weapons (Amani Toomer, Plaxico Burress, and Jeremy Shockey) along with a new weapon in potential draft steal Steve Smith from USC.
The question will be whether or not Eli can recover from a dismal 2006 season, and whether or not the offensive line can make sure he gets back on track.
: two retirements could very well cripple this defense; one is official, the other may be coming soon.
Jessie Armstead officially retired in the offseason, and Michael Strahan is leaning toward retirement.
Although the rumors are rampant that the Giants are going to add Simeon Rice to their defensive line, the addition of draft pick Aaron Ross from
Texas to the secondary may be the only positive on this sinking defensive ship.
: hopefully, Tom Coughlin has saved his money, because it would appear that at the end of this season, the Giants will look to terminate him.
Could Bill Cowher possibly replace him in the Apple?
: 4th in NFC East, won’t make the playoffs
: Andy Reid
: if there is a team that not only lost a lot of players on both sides of the ball but also gained, it’s the Eagles.
The offense lost Jeff Garcia to the Bucs and Donte’ Stallworth to the Patriots, while acquiring WR Bethel Johnson from the Vikings, WR Kevin Curtis from the Rams, and QB Kevin Kolb from the
Because of that last acquisition, there may now be a quarterback controversy in
Philadelphia between Kolb and Donovan McNabb.
But, there is continuity within this team, as the returning members of this offense include running backs Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter, wide receivers Greg Lewis and Reggie Brown, and tight end L.J. Smith.
: much like the offense, the defense also went through a dramatic change this season, perhaps even more so than the offense.
While losing Dhani Jones, Michael Lewis, Roderick Hood, and Darwin Walker, they did acquire linebacker Takeo Spikes, and they did keep Jevon Kearse, Darren Howard, Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard, Jeremiah Trotter, Sean Considine, and Brian Dawkins, all the while having young, hungry defensive players waiting for their shot.
: there is a lot of changing going on in the City of
Brotherly Love, but then again, the Eagles and their fans are used to this sort of thing by now.
Granted, the Cowboys will take the division title, but there’s still the wild card.
: 2nd in NFC East, Wild Card Berth
: the legendary Joe Gibbs
: thankfully, the Redskins have never been known to be an offensive juggernaut…at least, not since Dan Snyder bought the team.
There are four quarterbacks battling it out, including Jason Campbell, Mark Brunell, and former “Bachelor” star Jesse Palmer.
There’s a running back position battle that Clinton Portis is losing badly to Ladell Betts.
Aside from tight end Chris Cooley, there’s not a single middle-to-upper-tier receiver on the team.
And, by the way, the Redskins didn’t do much of anything to improve the situation.
: now, the Redskins did improve their defense.
First, they drafted LaRon Landry from LSU, and will position him at safety opposite Sean Taylor.
Then, they went and acquired London Fletcher-Baker to anchor the linebacker position, along with returning linebackers Marcus Washington and Lemar Marshall.
Also returning are defensive linemen Phillip Daniels and Andre Carter, as well as defensive backs
Springs, David Macklin, and Carlos Rogers, all while only losing an aging Adam Archuleta and acquiring Fred Smoot.
: in this or perhaps any division in the NFC, except maybe the NFC North, the defensive line the Redskins have will not get the job done, period.
Never mind the fact that their offense sucks.
: 3rd in NFC East, will not make the playoffs
So, looking at everything overall, here’s how the NFC East shapes up:
Tomorrow, I switch from the NFC over to the AFC, and will look at the AFC North, and perhaps the tightest division race in all the NFL between the Steelers, Ravens, and Bengals…oh, and a fourth place finish for the Browns, again.