NFC East Midseason Report

15 11 2008

By Tom Peters

Thanks to Sportables

Thanks to Sportables

The standings may not show it, but this division is the most talented in football. The big problem with the NFC East is that everyone, except the Giants, beat up on each other. As a result, getting three teams in the playoff is highly unlikely. Let’s take a look at each team through Week 9.

New York Giants ( 8 – 1 )

I don’t care what the power rankings say. This team is the best team in the NFL. While Eli Manning has been the Jekyll & Hyde of quarterbacks, it doesn’t matter. They don’t need him to win all their games. Plaxico Burress has been a distraction and a terrible teammate. It’s ok, they don’t need him to win all their games either. The problem children, Tiki Barber, Jeremy Shockey, GONE. Osi Umenyiora, HURT, in comes Justin Tuck. Part of the reason for their success is their depth. They have more defensive lineman than halls of Canton, Ohio. The running games is a monster. Give it to Jacobs, eight yards. Ahmad Bradshaw will get you the other two while giving you good field position on special teams. Eli Manning is the human eraser. Three bad quarters are forgotten and he is the best quarterback in the 4th quarter. It’s like he’s oblivious to adversity. On defense, this team gets the interceptions through excellent coverage and the front seven’s ability to get to the quarterback. They are so deep and good at all the skill positions, it’s no surprise the are the best team in football.

Rest of the Season: I like them to finish 5 – 2 for the season. Wins against Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, Carolina & Arizona, combined with losses at Dallas and at Minnesota, a team that always give the Giants problems will put them at 13 – 3 for the season.

Playoffs?: they haven’t clinched the division yet, but they will. Expect them to have home field advantage in the playoffs and anything short of the Super Bowl will be a surprise.

Washington Redskins ( 6 – 3)

After seeing them play the Giants on opening night, I am surprised to see this team where they are right now. Give Jim Zorn all the credit. he has forged a relationship with Jason Campbell and developed him into a good, middle-of-the-road quarterback. He won’t beat you, but he won’t cost you any games either. Clinton Portis is the best running back in the NFL. When he is good, the Redskins usually win. When they stop him, he is usually bad. the offensive line is effective enough to give Campbell a chance to check down receivers. The defensive line doesn’t really pressure you, but the secondary is quick to the pass and plays excellent coverage, especially in man-to-man coverage. They don’t win big, but they win. They keys for the continued success rest on Portis & the offense keeping the ball.

Rest of the Season:A lot of this is predicated on the health of Portis. I see them going 3 – 4 the rest of the way. They should beat Cincinnati, Seattle & San Francisco. The Portis injury will cost them the game against Dallas, they will lose to the Giants, Ravens & Eagles because they are defenses that cause turnovers and usually score off those turnovers. They can also pressure Campbell into some bad throws.

Playoffs:?I don’t know if 9 – 7 will do it this year. There will be a lot of 9 -7 teams in the conference and this division will likely have 3 if not all 4 teams with a winning record. It’s possible, but they will have to hold a lot of tiebreakers. Being 2 – 1 in the division at this point doesn’t hurt, but I don’t see them winning anther divisional game.

Dallas Cowboys ( 5 – 4 )

I can’t get a read on this team. They are better than 5 – 4, but they need to see Dr. Phil. Granted, Tony Romo is back from cutting his Christmas album with Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey (what a weird threesome that would be), but his return will not serve as the Messiah of this team. They have some serious issues. The offensive line can’t protect the quarterback. The wide receivers aren’t getting the ball in case you haven’t heard and Marion Barber is facing 7 or 8 in the box every time he is on the field. They also have some key players off the field. Felix Jones hurts them in special teams and in the running & short passing games. Pacman Jones, an average player at best, is suspended and a major distraction and the injury to punter Mat McBriar doesn’t help.  Wade Phillips has put an unfocused and undisciplined product on the field and Jerry Jones standing on the sideline grabbing all the attention doesn’t help.

Rest of the Season:It all depends on the health of Rom and his ability to get the ball to the receivers. If he can do this, it opens up the running game for Marion Barber. Based on what I’m seeing now, I see them going 4 – 3 the rest of the way. They’ll beat Seattle, Washington, San Francisco & Philadelphia and lose to the Ravens, Giants & Steelers. This will put them at 9 – 7 for the season.

Playoffs:This puts them in a precarious position. What holds true for the Redskins will hold true for the Cowboys. It all depends on the tiebreakers with the other 9-7 teams. If my predictions hold true, they will be 2 – 4 against the division and will likely miss the playoffs and Wade Phillips will be fired as soon as the last ball is snapped.

Philadelphia Eagles ( 5 – 4 )

The Westbrook injury really hurt them at the beginning of the season. He’s still not 100% and the Eagles are feeling it. They probably have one of the toughest schedules in the league and it’s not going to get easier from here. Donovan McNabb is healthy and has done a good job at quarterback. He finally has the deep threat in DeShaun Jackson and Reggie Brown is recovering nicely. He does miss Kevin Curtis in the slot though. The defense does an excellent job bringing pressure and scores off the turnovers the force. They do have issues against the pass however, but they don’t play that many teams with good passing games.

Rest of the Season:  I see them going 4 – 3 the rest of the way with wins against Cleveland, Cincinnati, Baltimore & Washington. They will lose to Dallas, the Giants,  & Arizona (on Thanksgiving). This too will put them at  9  – 7 and the fans will probably roast Andy Reid afterwards.

Playoffs:?  See my notes for the Redskins & Cowboys.

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