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NFC East Preview

NFC East Preview

Lee Vowell

Lee Vowell is a co-host of the podcast Baseball Beer & BBQ and writes about sports and other sundries for various outlets.

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Lee Vowell @LeeVowell

 

There may be no division where the teams dislike each other as much as the NFC East. The Washington Redskins do not like the Dallas Cowboys because the Cowboys took their viewing territory in the southern United States decades ago. The Cowboys cannot stand the New York football Giants because New York City is not Dallas. The Philadelphia Eagles fans just hate because they have to carry on the long tradition of hating things as Philadelphians (maybe starting when former resident Benjamin Franklin called his original hometown, Boston, a city populated by “Beaners,” which was a horrible putdown in those days). The Giants detest the rest of the division because it appears to them that when they play the other teams those squads are actually attempting to defeat them in the game! Let’s take a look at this intriguing division and pick who will win.

Dallas Cowboys

Record in 2014: 12-4

Key player: Quarterback- Tony Romo

Player to watch: Defensive End- Randy Gregory

Outlook: The Cowboys exceeded all expectations last year. Their defense was awful 2013, but improved greatly last season. One area where the defense needs to improve even more is with pass rush. Dallas thinks they have addressed this need with the signing of defensive end Greg Hardy and the drafting of Gregory from Nebraska. On offense, the line remains intact and was a force last year. DeMarco Murray had massive numbers in 2014, but how much of that was due to the line is up for debate. Murray left for Philadelphia, but the Cowboys have faith that Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle can produce. Romo had possibly his best season last year, and if he stays healthy there is no reason to think he will not again be very good, especially with receiver like Dez Bryant to throw to. Prediction: 11-5

New York Giants

Record in 2014: 6-10

Key player: Running back- Shane Vereen

Player to watch: Safety- Landon Collins

Outlook: The Giants have suffered through a few years of bad defense. For a team that won a Super Bowl in 2007 with an aggressive defense, a fix needs to be made. Enter Steve Spagnuolo who was the defensive coordinator when the Giants won the championship that year. He is tasked with turning around a defense that did not have a player with double-digit sacks for the first time since 1984. Does he have the talent to do it, is the question. Offensively, New York signed Vereen from the New England Patriots, and he should be a great fit because of his ability to catch out of the backfield. Eli Manning had possibly his best year in 2014, and it does not hurt that he has second-year receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to throw to. The Giants might still give up plenty of points, but they will score a lot too. Prediction: 7-9

Philadelphia Eagles

Record in 2014: 10-6

Key player: Quarterback- Sam Bradford

Player to watch: Wide receiver- Nelson Agholor

Outlook: The question on everyone’s mind is, does coach Chip Kelly really know what he is doing? Coming off back-to-back 10-6 seasons, not yet winning a playoff game, and making lots of head-scratching moves, 2015 should give us the answer to the previous question. One of the trades Kelly made was brining in the oft-injured Bradford. How he fits in the Eagles system is anyone’s guess. He was a constant injury risk while playing a more traditional pro-style in St. Louis, and now that he has moved on to Philadelphia, where he will be tasked with running the ball a bit more, he seems even more in danger. At least, Bradford has weapons around him in newly-acquired running back Murray and young receivers Jordan Matthews and Agholor. Defensively, the team brought in defensive backs, and former Seattle Seahawks, Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond. Due to the speed of the offense, Kelly’s defenses are on the field a lot. Possibly one reason the Eagles have not won a playoff game in the last years is that the defensive players are simply tired at the end of the year. There are many questions surrounding Philadelphia, including how they overcome and deal with the recent departures of guard Evan Mathis, linebacker Trent Cole, running back LeSean McCoy and receiver Jeremy Maclin. But the Eagles still have talent, so they still could win the division. Prediction: 9-7

Washington Redskins

Record in 2014: 4-12

Key player: Running Back- Alfred Morris

Player to watch: Right Tackle- Brandon Scherzo

Outlook: What a mess this organization is. They have a General Manager (Scott McCloughan) whose wife is accusing people of getting NFL news by performing sexual favors. They have a quarterback (Robert Griffin III) who gets hurt a lot and does not seem to be liked by his own team. They have a team name that is offensive but refuse to change. They have an owner (Daniel Snyder) who was named the “most hated owner in sports” in a poll in the Washington Post. They draft Scherff to shore up the offensive line, but he had issues blocking true freshman defensive end, Derek Barnett, in the Iowa-Tennessee bowl game last year (note: Barnett is very good, though). And, finally, their defense stinks. Prediction: 3-13

 

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About Lee Vowell

Lee Vowell is a co-host of the podcast Baseball Beer & BBQ and writes about sports and other sundries for various outlets.

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