With the season nearing and it looking more and more like the NFL is inching closer to an end to the lockout we as fans can start looking towards ranking our respective teams. Once again we see, as we have for the past 3 seasons, a different team take the division in the division know as “The Beast”. An apt name for a division that has only had a team finish under .500 twice since 2005, and it looks to remain a competitive division this season.
The Washington Redskins seem to come out as the black sheep of the group being last in the division 4 out of the last 6 seasons. They aren’t all bad with a talented group on the defense lead by Brian Orakpo and LaRon Landry, but with the Donovan McNabb/Mike Shannahan experiment going south topped with the either Rex Grossman or John Beck at the helm the Skins are looking destined to stay at the bottom of the division, though the fiery group always remains competitive.
The competition clearly revolves around the Eagles and the Giants with Dallas on the cusp based on pure potential.
The Eagles winning the division was by no means a fluke, nor was the play of Michael Vick, though we’ve seen this kind of hype around Vick early in his days as a Falcon, and seeing as how they won the division they are clearly the team to beat. As it has been said, “To be the best. You have to beat the best”, and though the best right now in the league is Green Bay, the best in division is Philadelphia. That being said, we have seen this same show from Michael Vick before, as I stated earlier, with the Falcons and Vick never ascended to higher than a running quarterback who could not get over the hump once teams were able to game plan for him. The x-factor for Vick now, is that he has put on his Randall Cunningham shoes and began passing first, and very effectively I might add. The Eagles defense is young and as always tenacious, but stayed middle of the group last season averaging 15th against the run and past and could be the Achilles Heel of the team.
The New York Giants or Football Giants, as we keep being reminded that they play football for some reason, finished with the same record as the Eagles at 10-6 last year, but were denied a playoff berth due to the Packers having a better division record and the fact that they didn’t have the luxury of playing in the NFC West where the Seahawks frolicked into the playoffs with 3 less wins than New York. Never the less, the Giants have a revitalized young passing core after the true emergence of Hakeem Nicks and a great response late in the year by Mario Manningham to compliment Steve Smith. Eli Manning has managed top bring his completion percentage up over the past 3 seasons to a respectable 62.9 (this last season) due in large part to the talent at the receiving core. The team has also brought in Prince Amakumara to compliment Aaron Ross and Corey Webster, and the group remains talented on the D-line even if Osi Umenyiora were to be lost from the team.
Then there was Dallas. As they have for the past number of season the Cowboys have a great core of talented players, and not all the blame can be put on the bumbling coaching style of Wade Phillips. The great thing about the league though, is it is a new season and Dallas still has potential. Dez Bryant, the man-child that he is, showed bursts of the talent that made Jerry Jones trade up or him, however, the team seemed eager to force the ball to Bryant in what seemed like an attempt to justify or establish their 1st rounder leaving the more established and more well rounded Miles Austin out of most game plans after a breakout season. The backfield is in flux with Felix Jones proved that he’s best as a change of pace back, Barber is a shell of his former self, and Choice apparently isn’t a choice the team is willing to make as the starter. The defense suffered setbacks at times with Newman showing signs of aging and Jenkins showing regression from his Pro Bowl year, as did Anthony Spencer, with DeMarcus Ware really being the only true standout on the defense all season long. The issue with the Cowboys seems to be the coaching, as the talent is there though most are still young. With Jason Garrett now solidified as the head coach we will see where the issues really lay with the team. Tony Romo will be back, and despite the great play by Jon Kitna in his stead, will be an upgrade at the position, and make no mistake Romo wants to win.
Though the Eagles and the Giants are the teams to beat, it’s a new season and “The Beast” if up for grabs for anyone in the division with talent across the boards. Don’t count anyone out.
About the Author
Written by David Willow
My name is David Willow. Your NFL and Fantasy Jedi. I have lived in Dallas, TX most of my life. I have been following both football and basketball since I was a child. I love being able to research and analyze different players and teams. I've been a fantasy sports enthusiast for around 8 years with some titles to back that. I have a Bachelors degree in History with a minor in English. Other hobbies include me being part of an acting workshop for five years, playing guitar, and working out. Hit me up with any comments, questions or opinions.