2013 NFL Preseason Predictions: NFC East (Woodhull)
With a couple of division predictions in the books, I continue on with the NFC East.
Here is my expected finish for the NFC East in 2013:
1. Washington Redskins (schedule): 11-5
So far, Sean Beazley and I have been fairly close in agreement with our picks (we both have the “surprise” Titans to win the AFC South); however the NFC East, and especially the Redskins is where we diverge.
I have the Redskins running away with this division and, in general, I think they will be one of the best teams in the NFL all season, regardless of the health of Robert Griffin III.
I’ll backpedal a little, only in the sense that the Redskins may come up short of my 11-win predication if RGIII misses significant time. I’d planning for him to get nicked up and miss maybe 2-3 games and my 11-win prediction accounts for that missed time. Kirk Cousins is a good back-up, and would be better than a handful or more of the starting QBs in the league.
This is team that has been built for a few years by Mike Shanahan and all the pieces have started to come together and they are built to win now. Offensively, the Redskins are a dominant team. It starts on the line, where they put together a stellar squad that opened huge holes for Alfred Morris and Griffin. Last year, they lead the NFL in rushing with over 2,700 yards, and did it averaging over five yards per carry. They have vertical passing threats with veteran Pierre Garcon and Leonard Hankerson.
The question mark for the Redskins will be on defense. Last year they were 28th in total defense, but showed huge improvement in the second half of the year when they went on their seven-game win streak to close the season out. Last year they lost their best defensive player, star linebacker Brian Orakpo to a torn pectoral injury in Week 2 of the season. They needed him as an anchor to the defense, and a healthy Orakpo will lead a much-improved Redskins defense this year.
2. New York Giants (schedule): 8-8
As a football fan, who likes to watch teams make smart personnel moves, I’ve been very pleased with some of the Giants decisions this offseason. They allowed the over-paid and one-dimensional Osi Umenyiora and oft-injured Ahmad Bradshaw to walk in free agency. They drafted solid fill-ins to depleted positions by picking Justin Pugh in the first round and Johnathan Hankins in the second, which will help replenish aging offensive and defensive lines respectively.
So, why so down on the G-Men with the 8-8 record?
Well, despite the good moves this past year, they still don’t have the talent to compete with the best teams in the NFL and they still haven’t been able to address some of the biggest need positions like linebacker and the interior of the O-line. Don’t worry too much Giants fans, I’m sure in another two years from now, they’ll back door into the playoffs again and make a run to the Super Bowl — just not this year.
3. Dallas Cowboys (schedule): 6-10
The Cowboys feel like a team slowly being washed away and clinging to yesterday’s roster in hopes to get one more run. They are still loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, but depth will be issue, especially on defense. Key (and underrated) nose tackle Jay Ratliff has been sidelined with a hamstring injury and DeMarcus Ware is returning from offseason surgery. Both of these guys need to be fully healthy this season for the defense to be anything above average.
On offense, Dez Bryant has looked great, but that’s easy to do at three-quarter speed in practice. Come game time, the offensive line issues have not been addressed, so Tony Romo will be lucky to be able to get him the ball. For all the bad rap that Romo gets, he’ll be the glue that holds this team together if they are to exceed my six-win projection.
And despite being a sub-par team, I’m sure Romo will take the heat if they only do manage a half dozen wins and fail to make the playoffs again.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (schedule): 4-12
I think the Eagles made the right move in blowing it up after last year's debacle. However, I’m not really sold on Chip Kelly as the new head coach and what he brings in terms of his crazy-gimmick offense. While there is a stereotype that college coaches have struggled making the transition to the NFL, it’s been more a mixed bag. For every Lane Kiffin and Steve Spurrier, there is a Tom Coughlin and Jim Harbaugh.
My concerns for the Eagles this year is two-fold: the offensive system is unproven and they haven’t done enough to slow or replenish the bleeding of talent from the defensive side of the ball. I could be completely wrong about the Eagles, but I’ll take a wait-and-see approach this year. They call it rebuilding for a reason.
All of our contributors will make their division and Super Bowl picks and we will track those on this centralized predictions page.