Last year, Tony Homo and the Cowgirls exercised their playoff demons from several years back and were able to win their first playoff game in over 10 years. This year, the pressure is on to win much more than one game in the playoffs. With the Super Bowl in the Death Star this year, Jerry Jones obviously expects Wade Phillips and the boys from Big D to at the very least represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Anything less for Dallas is considered a failure. While I do like Dallas to win the NFC East, I think they will ultimately fall short of their goal, culminating in the end of the Wade Phillips era in Dallas.
1. DALLAS COWBOYS
The Boys in Big D looked like a couple of flapper girls a little loopy on the gin and juice on Sunday night, but I think they are too good to continue playing like that for the whole season. Tony Romo might feel a bit scorned by this jilted lover, but he still has an all-star cast on offense to distribute the ball too. Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Jason Witten, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Roy Williams are all at his disposal, and the only problem might be making sure everyone is happy. They will score many points this year.
On defense, this team is also stacked. They have a talented secondary with Malcolm Jenkins and Terrence Newman, and a fearsome pass rush with DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears. If it wasn't for careless play by the offense that led to a TD, the defense would have won the game for Dallas in week 1. Look for the Cowboys to come on strong in the second half and win the division going 12-4. However, look for another playoff failure to be the end of the dopey Phillips administration in Dallas.
2. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
The Eagles got killed with injuries in week 1, but still managed to hang in there with one of the Super Bowl favorites. The most devastating injury might have occurred though when Glenn Halstead skinned his knees jumping on the Packers bandwagon. Whether it is Michael Vick under center for this offense, or the young John Moxon, I think they are extremely talented. Shady McCoy may be the second coming of Brian Westbrook, and Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek are all receiving threats. The only real worry is the O-line; but if they can give whoever is at QB a little bit of protection they will be just fine.
The Birds defense is gonna be good. Provided Stewart Bradley can return from his concussion, they will have a good run stuffing defense, solid pass protection with Asante Samuel, and an improved pass rush with potential rookie of the year Brandon Graham. Look for the Birdies to go about 11-5 and make the playoffs again.
3. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
There is new hope in our nation's capital with Mike Shanahan and Dirty Don McNabb coming to town this offseason. This hope was reflected in the Skins' week 1 upset over the Boys from Big D. I put the Redskins here because Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb are winners. Donovan McNabb may not have won the big one, but he does win, and I think he will improve this team immensely. That said, I'm still glad he's out of Philly. McNabb doesn't really have anyone to throw to on offense, but I think they can put up enough points to win some games this year and potentially make the playoffs. In case you missed it, I didn't pick any wild card teams in the other divisions with the thought that the NFC East would take both wild card slots.
On defense, the Redskins are very good. LaRon Landry, DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers make up a talented secondary, and Brian Orakpo, Rocky McIntosh, London Fletcher and Andre Carter should be playmakers in the middle. They were able to shut down the Cowboys in week 1, so I like their chances against everyone else as well. Look for the Redskins to go 9-7 and have a chance at the playoffs.
4. NEW YORK GIANTS
It's no secret that I don't like the G-Men, but this prediction is clearly out of lack of knowledge. They could easily go 11-5 or 12-4 and win this division, but I'm just not sure. On offense, it looks like they can cause fits for opposing secondaries with Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, but will Brandon Jacobs or Ahmad Bradshaw be able to shoulder the load at running back? Moreover, can the team focus enough to cut down on the 4 turnovers they had in week 1? In my opinion, no. In Borst's opinion, yes. In Koey's opinion, huh?
On defense, the Giants should be decent. Their pass rush will be good as always, but I'm not sold on their linebackers or their secondary. Kenny Phillips looked god awful out there, and other Steve Smith was able to burn the secondary even with Shane Victorino look-alike Matt Moore throwing the ball. I know I am making too much out of one week, but I didn't like what I saw out of a team I wasn't sure what to expect out of. I see the Big Blue wrecking crew going about 8-8 and possibly contending for a playoff spot.
That's how the NFC shakes out. If you don't like it, take solace in how poor my predictions were last year. If you do like it, thank you.