I have a question. Or two.
In fact, there are questions everywhere when you look at the NFC East 2013 edition.
There has been a temporary power shift to the NFC West, with the resurrection of the 49ers franchise under Jim Harbaugh, the emergence of the Seattle Seahawks under the USC outlaw refugee Pete Carroll, and the inevitable improvement that comes with hiring Jeff Fisher in St. Louis.
Meanwhile, back east where the beasts once roamed and ruled the NFL landscape, questions abound.
Let’s just take it city by city, shall we? We will start in the northernmost port and work our way south, so that at least we end our journey closer to where they really know how to make barbecue.
A man’s gotta eat.
New York Football Giants
- Is the defensive line finally human and vulnerable as it ages? The Giants’ DL has been one of the league’s best and they have anchored two Super Bowl-winning teams. But last year, they were pedestrian at best. The vaunted Giants’ D gave up 383 yards per game in 2012, allowing 129 yards per game rushing. The Giants’ defense ranked 31st in the league in 2012.
- Will the revamped offensive line give Eli Manning enough time to throw and provide emerging star running back David Wilson enough space to run?
- Can Hakeem Nicks stay healthy and get back to his pre-2012 production?
- Will Eli ever wipe that dumb look off his face? (Just kidding. No, really.)
- Was it a mistake to fire Andy Reid, the most successful head coach in franchise history?
- Will Chip Kelly bring a new kind of offensive genius to the NFL? The man that put Eugene on the map—well, actually, I am the man that put “Eugene” on the map—by leveraging Phil Knight’s Nike money and his own offensive innovations and building a football dynasty in an unlikely northwest outpost hardly known as a high school football players breeding ground shake up things in the NFL with his offensive schemes? Or, will he be another Nick Saban and find himself in over his head on Sundays? (I never miss a chance to take a shot at Saban.)
- Who plays QB?
- Who has the best Philly cheese steak, Geno’s or Pat’s?
- RG3. Can he repeat his magnificent rookie season?
- RG3. Can he stay healthy?
- Is running back Alfred Morris really all that or has the NFL taken notice and prepared to reel him in? Morris went off for 1613 yards and 13 TDs in 2012. With RG3 providing dynamic play in the passing game, teams will have to stop Morris without putting eight and nine men in the box.
- Will Obama be impeached?
- Will Tony Romo shut the mouths of critics like Donovan McNabb and Stephen A. Smith and prove Jerry was right to pay him and make him even more the focal point of the team’s offense?
- Can the offensive line be less offensive and more effective or will they finally get Romo actually killed on the field of play?
- Will the 2012 draft class make a significant contribution in 2013?
- Can the team riddled with injuries in 2012 stay healthy in 2013?
- How much better will the defense be under new coordinator Monte Kiffin and the Tampa 2 defense? Face it, they will be better. Come on. Rob Ryan or Monte Kiffin? That is like upgrading from a McDonald’s burger to a Ruth’s Chris steak.
- Will Jerry Jones make Bill Callahan split his paycheck with Romo since Romo is basically acting as offensive coordinator?
The Redskins won the division n 2012 by the skin of their teeth with a 10-6 record. The Giants finished 9-7 and the Cowboys, 8-8. In 2011, the Giants barely squeaked by, winning the division on the last Sunday of the regular season and proceeding to launch their second unlikely Super Bowl run in five years. The Cowboys played for the division title in week 17 each of the last two seasons. The Eagles struggled, but are not that far removed from the days when they were winning division titles on a regular basis. Of course, there is no Andy Reid or Donovan McNabb in Philly anymore.
I guess you have to give front runner status to the defending division champs, but this thing appears wide open to me. The question of who will win it comes down to which team answers the above questions correctly.
For you Cowboys fans, Gil Brandt says the Cowboys will win it and he gave the Dallas Morning News 10 reasons. Bleacher Report has an article for why each team will win it, but that is Bleacher Report: Homerville and SEO mill. I take nothing I see on that site seriously, except the obvious lack of ability demonstrated by the vast majority of their “writers” and the fact that, indeed, every fan believes he would make a fabulous sports writer or coach. or both.
I think this is a four-horse race myself. I would not be surprised if we had a three-way tie as late as week 15, just the way we did in 2012. I do not know which three teams it might be, but the good money is on whichever three have the fewest key injuries.
Looking down the road, if RG3 can stay healthy, the future may indeed belong to the Redskins, if somebody doesn’t do something.
In 2013, however, I like the Cowboys’ chances. I believe this is the year they win a meaningful game in week 17…and win the division. We can worry about 2014 and beyond when the time comes.
What do YOU think?