2010 Division Preview: NFC East
The NFC East perennially is considered to be the toughest division in football, and with good reason. All four teams have been in the playoffs over the past five years and all four teams are legitimate playoff contenders once again this season. Last year's division champion, the Dallas Cowboys, are widely considered to be the favorite by many based upon how they finished the 2009 season, dominating the Philadelphia Eagles in back-to-back weeks on their way to their first playoff victory in over a decade. Their preseason has been long and rough, however, and the injuries and poor play that have plagued them throughout August can't remain if they hope to stay atop the division again in 2010. The beauty of the NFC East is because it is so competitive, there is no machination of the final standings in 2010 that should surprise anyone.
The Redskins have very quietly had one of the better defenses in the NFL over the past few years and they expect to build upon that as they switch to a 3-4 base front under new defensive coordinator
The passing game in Washington has not been up to snuff in recent years. They replaced
The 'Skins are expecting a significant contribution this season from the relatively unknown first-year player from West Texas A&M. Armstrong has been the breakout star of training camp, easily passing by former second-round picks
The Redskins were a much more talented team than their 4-12 record from a year indicated and all they did this offseason was add a future Hall of Fame head coach,
In an increasingly pass-happy league, the Cowboys may have the best tandem of outside pass rushers in the league.
The Cowboys offensive line finished the 2009 season with a disappointing performance in the playoffs against the Minnesota Vikings. In the offseason Dallas jettisoned long-time starting left tackle
The only new starter on defense is Ball, who takes over at safety for former Cowboy
The Cowboys simply have way too many playmakers at important positions not to be in the thick of things until the very end. The problem is they are already beat up entering the season with injuries to safety
The Giants believe very strongly that the most important position group on a team, outside of the quarterback, is the defensive line. As usual, they have continued to fortify the ranks in this regard.
In April they added first-round pick
Once thought to be the strength of the team, the running game was not nearly as effective in 2009 as in the previous two seasons. Whether it was the running style of
With serious question marks at the other two linebacker positions next to him, Boley needs to become the elite playmaker he can be. He possesses truly unique speed and athleticism for the position and could become one of the best outside linebackers in the NFL if he can stay healthy and focused. As the only known commodity at the second level of the defense for Big Blue, he'll need to do exactly that.
The Giants have too much talent and prideful personalities in their locker room not to bounce back from last season's disastrous finish and have a winning season. Their problem is that they reside in the toughest division in football and already seem to be losing the battle of attrition. If their injured veterans can return to action and stay healthy for a full 16 games, they could squeeze into the playoff picture, but that's a big if.
Seemingly overnight the Eagles have compiled the best stable of young skill position players in the league. Wide receivers
The defense took a step back last year under first-year defensive coordinator
The Eagles handed the keys to the franchise to the fourth-year player out of Houston on Easter Sunday and don't anticipate him to have a steep learning curve after being in the system the past three seasons. Philadelphia has a division championship-caliber squad at every position and it is up to Kolb to show that includes the quarterback position as well. No matter how much potential he has shown, he is still a first-year starter in a rabid NFL market that won't have much patience this season. How he responds to those lumps will determine the fate of this season in Philadelphia.
Just like every other team in this division, the Eagles simply have too much talent and are too good not to be in the mix come Week 17. Unlike every other team in this division, the Birds enter this season with a question mark at quarterback. No matter how high they are internally on Kolb, he still has to prove he can get it done week after week when the pressure is on. Doing that is his first year at the helm is asking a lot.