Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Predictions for the NFC East

now that the rosters are coming into focus, here is my prediction for order of finish in the NFC east and a breakdown of each team. i suppose it will be slanted in the eagles favor -- as despite my constant attempts to remain objective, i do remain an eagles fan at heart -- but this is how i firmly believe the season will play out.

predicted order of finish
1. eagles - 11-5
2. giants - 10-6
3. cowboys - 8-8
4. redskins - 7-9

1. philadelphia eagles - 11-5

positives
- the best QB in the division and someone who is on a mission to restore his place in the game and make himself an MVP candidate again -- by itself this should translate into wins
- a rebuilt defense with a d-line that is among the best in the nfl
- brian dawkins
- a young, dynamic wideout corps
- coming out of preseason relatively healthy for the first time in years
- a massive offensive line with a lot of depth at all positions
- no more me-o

negatives
- LBs are suspect -- undersized and/or slow
- RBs are small and injury prone
- TEs cannot block
- FB cannot block
- no more me-o

outlook
eagles should come out of the gate very quickly due to an easy early season schedule. the team does have it's weaknesses, but a) there isn't a team in the nfc that doesn't have its share of weaknesses and b) the team's strengths are very strong, difference making strong. lots of depth at almost every position except for LB, so they should be able to survive some injuries.

2) new york giants - 10-6

positives
- talented skill position players at every position
- great defensive ends
- good linebacking corps (if healthy)
- upgraded cornerbacks
- a QB who should be better than last season

negatives
- several prima donnas on the team
- a young QB with what appear to be fundamental flaws that may limit his potential
- older linebackers who once were good, but are damaged goods
- lots of sniping at the coach and the season hasn't even started yet
- the "toughest" schedule in the league
- below average d-tackles

outlook
i believe the giants will be the eagles chief competition this season. there is a chance for mutiny, but i don't think it will happen until the end of the season. on overall talent, they are on par with everyone else in the division, but this is a team with less depth than anyone except for the redskins. the development of the QB will be a huge factor in how successful the season is. if he becomes a true star (doubtful), then this team can win the division. if not, then the talent at the other positions will overcome his deficiencies much as they did last season. the only area where they have some real depth is at defensive end, so injuries may be a factor.

3) dallas cowboys - 8-8

positives
- good skill position players and probably the most talented pair of wideouts in the game (probably by far)
- good young defense with lots of speed. may be the best defense in the nfc.
- greg ellis was a very good defensive end, but may end up being a great LB. i've always been high on him, but i think he may have a breakout season.

negatives
- improving but still very suspect o-line
- an immobile QB who is a slow decision maker and does not scan the field well. tends to lock onto a guy and wait for him to get open.
- the me-o circus. i don't think the town is big enough for both parcells and me-o. one of them will be gone before the season ends.

outlook
this team has the talent to be a monster, but will be held back by two things: a) QB play, it is very difficult to win without good QB play and dallas will find it difficult to win without getting good play out of bledsoe or romo, my prediction is that QB play is going to hold this team back and b) the inevitable me-o implosion, already people are questioning parcells and his handling of the me-o cycling tour, if it's not me-o feuding with parcells it's going to be me-o feuding with bledsoe. the one thing that may help to keep bledsoe out of the crosshairs is that the cowboys are not "bledsoe's team". one of the big reasons why me-o lashed out at garcia and mcnabb is that they were the focal points of their teams, something that me-0 wanted for himself. since the cowboys are parcells' team. look for that to be the central point of conflict.

4) washington redskins - 7-9

positives
- good skill position players
- good o-line
- lots of good coaches
- good secondary
- good fantasy football roster

negatives
- no depth at most positions
- too much coaching turnover
- suspect QB play
- too many underachievers

outlook
i'm not very optimistic about the redskins chances this season, in fact, i would have put them at 6-10 if everyone else wasn't so sure that they were going to be so good. their QBs stink, they have too many high reputation/low production players, they completely changed their offensive philosophy in the offseason, their number one back is already injured, they have no depth at any position because they are overpaying their starters, their head coach is looking forward to retiring again. they do have a good d-coordinator and their defense should keep them in games, but this team is not going to score points and they'll be hard pressed to win many games.

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your optimism Pete. I see them as a 10-6 team who will be in the mix, but a few thoughts.

1. They are going to get killed by TE this year because they have no one who can cover them effectively (maybe Barber), so Shockey, Witten and Cooley will just eat them up in the division. That concerns me more than any other factor about the LB.

2. Their RB are brittle and need an O line that blows people off the ball and a FB who blocks well. I honestly didn't see that in pre season-still too much penetration by D linemen when the first team was in (except with Andrews, that guy makes DT disappear-anyone see him engulf Joey Porter a few times on blitzes?). Even if they commit to it, running will be tough. Now having Stallworth may open this up because teams cannot stack 8 in the box, but I am not sold they'll be a good running team.

3. Return game will still be weak. They need to bust things to their own 40 every now and again and they just don't have the guys to do that right now. When they went 13-3, Reed had several awesome returns that set them up with short fields. Hopefully the D gets lots of turnovers to counter balance a lousy return game.

That said, the positives are many. super D line, secondary who can make plays, super kickers, great QB, enough weapons at WR (in total better than 2004, no one person as good as Me-O, but entire team is better IMO). As for the rest of the division

1. G men-tons of talent on both sides of the ball. When Arrington rushes and you need to block Osi, Strahan, and him, then they will be dangerous. Great RB and O line that just moves people. Eli is key, but I still think he has enough talent around him to make them no worse than 10-6. In the end, they are probably a sniff better than the Birds due to better LB and RB.

2. Skins-agree with you Pete. they looked awful in pre season. They overpaid for Randle El and Lloyd, Moss is due for another injury plagued year, Portis going down kills them, and they just don't seem to be clicking. Any injuries to their D and they're done. they'll go as far as their D can carry them, and that includes needing defensive TD. I do think they have the best secondary in football.

3. Boys-tough to say these guys finish less than 10-6 with that fire power and explosive D. The one thing that could backfire is their youth on D-all the Lb are 1st or 2nd year guys. Their O line sucks, their RB are over-rated, and their QB are statues, but boy when they have Jones, Witten, Owens, Glenn, and Crayton in the game, how do you cover everyone? This team will only be torn apart by internal strife, but I think TO will shut up and play and I think they could actually win the division. This is their last hurrah however as I see Parcells quitting at the end of the year.

Bumble

10:15 AM EDT  
Anonymous Phil said...

Excellent analysis as always.

I just have a feeling JJ's got something already figured out for the TEs. He's not dumb enough to overlook the weak LBs and I think their D-line and secondary has enough talent to compensate. Maybe they'll roll with their new nickle as the base package?

10:47 AM EDT  
Anonymous Phil said...

Bill Simmons is projecting a 12-4 season from the Eagles. I also think his take on the NFC East is pretty good (not the best division in the NFL) and would go a long way to getting Philly back to 11+ wins.

1:05 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

1. They are going to get killed by TE this year because they have no one who can cover them effectively

that may well be true, but it's not a fatal flaw considering they couldn't cover the TEs when they went to the superbowl 2 seasons ago either. also, as phil mentions, i'm sure JJ has something up his sleeve to mask this deficiency somewhat.

2. Their RB are brittle and need an O line that blows people off the ball and a FB who blocks well.

i don't know, bumble, i saw an o-line that was just mauling people at the line. this o-line is going to mash people. as far as FB goes, again, not a fatal flaw since we've been living with josh parry the past few seasons. i suspect big red is going to marginalize FB even further as he emphasizes his 2 TE formations.

3. Return game will still be weak. They need to bust things to their own 40 every now and again and they just don't have the guys to do that right now.

having to put the white flash on IR certainly impacted their return game, but let's not undersell what they have. at worst, it is an average return game. after all, mahe did, in fact, lead the nfl in punt return average last season and his backups are lito and westbrook (not chopped liver). kick return teams will likely be average, unless perry suddenly becomes the second coming of brian mitchell, but it's not horrible.

1. G men-tons of talent on both sides of the ball. When Arrington rushes and you need to block Osi, Strahan, and him, then they will be dangerous.

keep in mind that arrington is not the arrington of penn state vintage. this is an arrington with no knees, and who likely will be limited in what he can do.

3. Boys-tough to say these guys finish less than 10-6 with that fire power and explosive D.

i'm betting they do because their o-line stinks and their QB stinks. those definitely can be fatal flaws.

5:01 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

Bill Simmons is projecting a 12-4 season from the Eagles. I also think his take on the NFC East is pretty good (not the best division in the NFL) and would go a long way to getting Philly back to 11+ wins.

that's interesting. i'm pretty sure i remember him writing that the eagles wouldn't amount to anything this season just a week or so back.

i'm hot and cold with that guy. i usually read him for entertainment value and his knowledge of pop culture more than his sports opinions.

plus he's a big whining weenie, and i can't stand guys like that.

"waah, the patriots losing a second round playoff game *at* denver is a gut punch game that i'll never get over, waaah."

p*ssy

5:08 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's not drink the Kool Aid so quickly and be Eagle blind here. They will be lucky to be 10-6 even if they are a very good team given the fact they play in Indy and Tampa, 3 on the road in December in a very tough division, and the AFC South who for some reason always gives them fits. This team is also not a shoe in to just beat up on teams like Tennessee, Atlanta, New Orleans, or even Houston yet.

I stand by my Dallas assessment. Bledsoe isn't Johnny Unitas, but he isn't Andrew Ware either. The guy can throw a good ball and move an offense with time. I agree their O line is shaky, but you have to admit Dallas has very good skill positions on offense and an all around quick and nasty defense. That makes them a legit threat.

Is anyone else very alarmed at the notion of our already brittle starting Bor our not yet healed CB being forced to get whalloped as they return punts? Scares the shit out of me. I want absolutely no part of that. Mahe leading the NFC in return yards may be statistically true, but come on Pete, 2 weeks ago you wrote a very insightful article on why you just don't like this guy and every word was true. He hustles but he doesn't actually get much done. He will never ever ever break a kick for a TD. 22 yads per return is nice, but it'll never be paydirt.

I see the point on the O line, I will concede that the right side mashed people this pre season, but Tra is just a positioner vs. a masher. he plays OT like a power forward when he has the size and strength to abuse people. Herremans is not a guard-struggled to get under and move people all pre season. My point is they aren't structured to run block. They all pass block pretty well. Tapeh is an upgrade over Parry, cannot honestly speak to how well he blocks, so I am probably out of line on that comment.

If I were an opposing O coordinator, I'd throw 5 yard out patterns and tight end dumps all day on them as Baltimore did in the pre season. They really cannot stop that (I know, when executed well most teams cannot stop that). It won't necessarily get you in the end zone once they tighten up near the goal line, but it will keep the D on the field for too long and wear them down. I know every team has a weakness, but I pound the Birds on this particular Achilles until they show me they can stop it.

Bumble

P.S. Pete do you still play fantasy football and if yes, who'd you get this year? Had the dreaded 8 pick in the 12 man league...my team sucks

10:33 PM EDT  
Blogger The Big Dog said...

Well, boys (or girls) yesterday was the last day that we are not officially in the NFL season and I have to ensure that my receivers are healthy for tonight....who do I start (2) between Hines Ward, Joe Horn, Terry Glenn, and Matt Jones....I am thinking Ward and Glenn.

Anyhow, I truly enjoy reading this blog over any writer except Bill Conlin....I think he's kind of a boob, but he absolutely cracks me up with his grasp on English and constant use of history, humor and metaphor....plus when I read, I can't get the Joe Conklin voice and his actual voice out of my head.

Anyhow, Phil, Bumble and Pete really hit some good points....I suspect that JJ does have something prepared for the potential thrashing they are going to get from all opposing TEs....don't be surprised to see B Dawk covering the TE more as well as moving Kearse around to make him more effective. I don't agree with whoever said that Big Red will use the FB less...I suspect just the opposite....Tapeh will get some runs, catch a couple of passes and can't be a worse picker up of blocks than Parry, can he? Plus I suspect to see him lining up at RB in some short yardage situations to allow him to get a better view of the defense over his FB position.

I suspect the division will basically come down to which QB plays better....McSlappy should be the best, followed by Bledsoe (IMHO), Eli (yes, he does have a serious character flaw which holds him back) and whoever lines up for the Redskins. That situation is weak....Bledsoe is a statue, he does tend to lock on a receiver, but he still can get it done and there are lots of weapons down there....Tiki helps Eli, but I am just not sold on him...he reminds me of the weaker, envious younger brother who will never live up to his big brother (which he basically is).....and Brunell is 2 years past being a marginal NFL QB (IMHO)

I just love Shawn Andrews and Bunkley. Both of those guys are just beasts....Andrews just engulfs and eliminates people and he reminds me of a leaner, meaner Fat Albert.

8:20 AM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

Let's not drink the Kool Aid so quickly and be Eagle blind here.

don't get me wrong, you make a lot of good points, however, i believe that the 3 most important factors to winning football games are QB, o-line, and d-line. if you have good play in all of those things, you can win with weaknesses everywhere else.

it's easy for people to point to skill position players because they get all the hype and they are the most visible, but you can win without good skill position players. good line play can overcome poor skill position players, but even the best skill position players have a tough time overcoming poor line play. recent rams and vikings teams are good examples. tons of skill position talent but poor line play (they had to overcome bad coaching as well).

you could be right and the cowboys could be very good (which is why i said they could be a monster based on talent), but i don't see bledsoe as a sure thing and neither does parcells (evidenced by the speculation that romo may end up being the starter by the end of the year).


if the season plays out how i think it's going to play out, the eagles will put a lot of points on the board and those 5 yard dinks and dunks may not matter.

9:35 AM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

I don't agree with whoever said that Big Red will use the FB less...I suspect just the opposite....Tapeh will get some runs, catch a couple of passes and can't be a worse picker up of blocks than Parry, can he? Plus I suspect to see him lining up at RB in some short yardage situations to allow him to get a better view of the defense over his FB position.

i agree that andy has tapeh pegged to do all of those things, but i'm guessing he'll be on the field for about 5 plays a game barring injuries.

9:45 AM EDT  
Anonymous Josh Parry's retina said...

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!! What happened??? It's all white!!!!

10:49 AM EDT  

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