2013 NFL Preseason Predictions: NFC East (Beazley)
It's anyone's game in the NFC East. This is the one division in the NFL where any team could finish first, and any team could finish in last.
1. New York Giants (schedule): 10-6
Heading into this season, the Giants offense is one of the league's best, but this unit does have some questions. I love the move of getting rid of Ahmad Bradshaw and giving the keys to David Wilson and Andre Brown. It's funny how people peg Wilson as someone who has a fumbling issue when he had only one fumble last season. It might be because he was yanked from the game and was limited to special teams for the rest of the game. Wilson knows that if he wants carries, then he has to limit his mistakes, because Andre Brown is ready and waiting. At year's end, I think Brown leads the team in rushing.
The other big question on offense is with Hakeem Nicks, who is in the final year of his contract. When healthy, Nicks is one of the league's top WRs, but he has yet to play a full season. The Giants rewarded Victor Cruz with a big contract this offseason, so Nicks will need to stay healthy and have a good season if he wants to stay in New York next year.
Big Blue's defense was not very big last season ranking 31st in yards allowed. The difference between the Giants ranking 31st, and Jacksonville ranking 30th, is that the Giants offense is so good that they can give up 400 yards a game and win. I think this unit will improve this season, especially since they are healthy in the defensive backfield.
The NFC is as wide open as ever this year, and it wouldn't surprise me at all see the Giants make one of their postseason runs and represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
2. Dallas Cowboys (schedule): 9-7
The Cowboys always look better on paper then they do on the field. I am very high on three players heading into this season as Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten are all impact players. Unfortunately, I am talking about fantasy football.
I will stand by what I have been saying for years: Romo will never lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl. I am not the only one who has this opinion on Romo, but unfortunately for the Cowboys they were kind of forced to re-sign him to a new deal because the QB market, including the draft, was so bad. I'm not saying Tony Romo is a bad QB, because he isn't. He just isn't clutch, and that's what you need out of your QB.
The Cowboys offensive line was one of the weak spots last year, and they addressed the center position in the draft by selecting Travis Frederick. They did gain some picks moving back, but the draft selection was definitely a head scratcher, especially when they have just as big of a need at safety. Their starting safeties definitely rank in the bottom five of the NFL.
3. Washington Redskins (schedule): 8-8
The health of Robert Griffin III is the biggest concern for the Redskins. They are hoping he has a great recovery like Adrian Peterson did last year, but at this point you can only speculate. If RG3 is healthy and can play at the form that he did last year, the 'Skins should be in the hunt for the division. I just can't count on that until he learns when to take a shot, and when to slide and protect himself. He doesn't have the body size of a quarterback like Cam Newton so he will need to learn this fast so he can be under center for a full season.
The flex scheduling also hurts the Redskins as they get games with division winners Atlanta and San Francisco while the other teams in the division get a much easier path.
The Redskins have similar problems that the Cowboys have with an average offensive line and bad safety play on defense. They should be right in the thick of things come playoff time, though.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (schedule): 6-10
Chip Kelly's crazy hurry-up style offense might be this year's Pistol offense. It will definitely be interesting to see how it plays out during the season. Rotating defensive linemen is something the majority of teams in the NFL do, so running up and snapping the ball within 15 seconds of the last play will keep teams off guard. On the flip side though, if they go three and out, their defense only gets a quick rest before heading back on the field.
Drafting OT Lane Johnson was definitely a step in the right direction for the Eagles. He should be a solid starter from Day 1, and open more holes for LeSean McCoy.
If you are not an Eagles fan, you would struggle to name three players on their defense. Gone are Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They finished tied for third-worst in the NFL in points allowed with 27.8 points per game allowed. They will probably struggle again this year.
All of our contributors will make their division and Super Bowl picks and we will track those on this centralized predictions page.