New York Giants (10-6). The Giants are one of those teams where you don’t know exactly what you are going to get. I mean sure, they do finish above .500 most seasons (including 9-7 last season). They have one of the better coaches in the game in Tom Coughlin (Jaguars fans are still thinking of their glory years when he coached their team). They have one of the better QBs in Eli Manning. And they have a good defense – led by a hellacious defensive line. The problem is that all of the aforementioned components took a dip last season, causing them to miss the playoffs.
I look for Big Blue to bounce back this season. New York normally exceeds expectations after failed seasons, and I expect the Giants to come out motivated and prove a lot of people wrong for writing them off.
Toughest Games: vs. Broncos, at Bears, vs. Vikings, vs. Packers, both games against the Cowboys and Redskins. The Giants have a tough stretch to start the season (at Cowboys, vs. Broncos). If they could make it through unscathed, then the NFC East is theirs to lose.
Dallas Cowboys (10-6). As perplexing as the Giants can be, the Cowboys are even more baffling. Dallas has the talent to be a perennial playoff team. The Cowboys have a top-10 QB in Tony Romo. They have a stud at running back in DeMarco Murray – if he stays healthy. Their passing game is elite thanks to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. Their defense are led by playmakers DeMarcus Ware (11.5 sacks) and Anthony Spencer (11 sacks).
It’s just that something is missing. Romo at times played like Tony “Uh-Oh” last season (especially the Monday nighter vs. the Bears and the last Redskins game). The running game was nonexistent due to Murray’s injuries. The defense was so depleted that they were signing players off the street.
Bottom line: this is head coach Jason Garrett’s last stand. If Garrett doesn’t improve the play-calling and lead the Cowboys to the playoffs, owner Jerry Jones will have to break his boy off.
Toughest Games: vs. Broncos, vs. Vikings, at Saints, at Bears, vs. Packers, both games against Giants and Redskins.
Washington Redskins (9-7). The good news is that the Redskins should get back a healthy Robert Griffin III to start the season. The bad news is two-fold: 1) opposing defensive coordinators had the whole offseason to game plan for RG3 and the read-option offense; 2) the secondary still sucks.
I think the Redskins will have to compensate for that God-awful secondary by scoring a lot of points, and they are quite capable. Running back Alfred Morris (who could have easily won Rookie of the Year), a healthy Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss should be able to shoulder the load. If Washington gets ANY type of improvement from its secondary, it will contend for the division title.
Toughest Games: at Packers, vs. Bears, at Vikings, at 49ers, at Falcons, both games against the Cowboys and Giants. A more difficult schedule may be the ‘Skins undoing this season.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-12). We all knew this was going to be a long season in Philadelphia. Then Riley Cooper goes “angry racist” at a Kenny Chesney concert. Hey Chip Kelly, I hope you thought the move from Oregon to this NFL team was worth it.