Share this article

print logo

NFC East: Power ball? That's just the ticket for Giants / Division rating 15.5

1. N.Y. Giants


Offense: A Super Bowl-winning quarterback (Eli Manning), a powerful rushing attack (Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw) and the NFC's best offensive line make up for inexperience at wide receiver. Rating: 4.5.

Defense: DEs Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck headline an insanely deep front line. MLB Antonio Pierce anchors a sound group on the second level. CBs Aaron Ross and Corey Webster can cover, but they get plenty of help from dominant pass rush. Rating: 4.5.

Special teams: P Jeff Feagles made Pro Bowl in 21st season. K Lawrence Tynes tries to bounce back from injury-plagued '08. Domenik Hixon and Bradshaw are competent on returns. Rating: 4.0.

Coaching: Old-school Tom Coughlin guides a staff that preaches physical football and a team-first mentality the players have bought into. Rating: 4.5.

On the spot: WR Hakeem Nicks. Giants counting on first-round draft pick to fill Plaxico Burress' shoes.

Prediction: If young receivers emerge, everything else in place to make a serious run at another Super Bowl title. Record: 12-4.


2. Philadelphia Eagles


Offense: Eagles shouldn't have trouble scoring points with QB Donovan McNabb throwing to big-play WRs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin and a running game consisting of all-purpose Brian Westbrook and talented rookie LeSean McCoy. And don't forget to add QB Michael Vick to the mix. Former Bills LT Jason Peters leads a rebuilt O-line, which didn't play together much in preseason due to injuries. Rating: 4.0.

Defense: Eagles lost longtime FS Brian Dawkins (free agency) and MLB Stewart Bradley (knee injury), but quick DTs Broderick Bunkley and Mike Patterson, pass-rushing DE Trent Cole and ball-hawking CB Asante Samuel will make sure there isn't much slippage. Rating: 4.0.

Special teams: Maclin's return ability adds to an already strong area. K David Akers is usually solid, but had three kicks blocked last season. Rating: 3.5.

Coaching: Andy Reid leads with a steady hand. His staff was weakened by death of longtime D-coordinator Jim Johnson. Rating: 4.5.

On the spot: Peters. Needs to play like elite blocker he's being paid to be.

Prediction: Should offer stiffest test for Giants.< b>Record: 10-6.


3. Dallas Cowboys


Offense: QB Tony Romo, fresh off two high-profile breakups (Terrell Owens and Jessica Simpson), should post big numbers throwing to Pro Bowl TE Jason Witten and WR Roy Williams, who must replace Owens as Romo's main man. Running game should be tremendous with three-headed monster -- Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice -- operating behind huge O-line. Rating: 4.0.

Defense: All-Pro OLB DeMarcus Ware (20 sacks) is dominant player on a unit that led NFL with 59 sacks. NT Jay Ratliff and ILB Bradie James anchor stout run "D." Cowboys need CB Terence Newman healthy or secondary will suffer. Rating: 4.0.

Special teams: K Nick Folk and P Mat McBriar are Pro Bowl caliber. Coverage is average, but Jones is a breakaway threat on returns. Rating: 4.0.

Coaching: Wade Phillips and O-coordinator Jason Garrett on hot seat after underachieving season. Rating: 3.5.

On the spot: Romo. Can't afford another late-season meltdown.

Prediction: Jerry Jones might clean house if team underperforms again. Record: 9-7.


4. Washington Redskins


Offense: RB Clinton Portis is centerpiece of attack. Redskins tried to replace QB Jason Campbell during offseason, which shows how much confidence they have in him. WR Santana Moss and TE Chris Cooley staying healthy is a must. An aging offensive line is a big concern. Rating: 3.5.

Defense: DT Albert Haynesworth could transform unit with his ability to collapse pocket and keep blockers off MLB London Fletcher. Haynesworth and rookie DE Brian Orakpo should improve pass rush and take pressure off CBs DeAngelo Hall, Fred Smoot and Carlos Rogers. Rating: 4.0.

Special teams: K Shaun Suisham coming off bad year. P Hunter Smith needs to help coverage, which allowed two touchdowns in '08. KR Rock Cartwright was unit's lone highlight last season. Rating 2.5.

Coaching: Given Jim Zorn's offensive background, he needs to get more from Campbell. Rating: 3.0.

On the spot: Haynesworth. With a $100 million contract, he's got a lot to live up to.

Prediction: 'Skins will be hard-pressed to win in super-tough division. Record: 7-9.

There are no comments - be the first to comment