The Rundown: NFC East
Teams in predicted order of finish
NEW YORK GIANTS: When it’s too tough to pick, always go with Eli
Sure, Cowboys QB Tony Romo’s 95.6 career passer rating is fifth all-time. And sure Washington QB Robert Griffin III can leap over tall buildings and throw passes that seem to warp space and time. But neither of them is Eli Manning, two-time Super Bowl champion – the guy who seems to come up big when the odds and competition are stacked most against him. And so we’ll go with the Giants as NFC East winners in 2013. As close as the top three teams are, and as promising as the Eagles look in former Oregon Coach Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense, picking Manning (and that fierce DL) seems better than flipping a coin.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Wherever they went, they… were … running
Mike Shanahan builds his teams on great running games powered by little-known tailbacks and mobile QBs — and he does it better than anyone around. Last year, it was RG III (102.4 passer rating, 20 TDs, 5 interceptions; 120 carries, 815 yards, 7 TDs in 2012) at quarterback and out-of-nowhere sixth-round draft pick Alfred Morris of Florida Atlantic at running back (1,613 yards, 13 TDs). This year it will be Griffin again at QB, provided the Redskins keep him healthy after his ACL injury late last season, and probably Morris again at RB (it could be anyone, as Shanahan has proved to everyone for two decades). And they’ll do what they do. And only the Giants will finish ahead of them in this division for exactly those reasons.
DALLAS COWBOYS: Your guess is as good as ours
Last year, Tony Romo threw for almost 5,000 yards and 28 TDs. His main weapon, Dez Bryant (1,382 yards, 12 TDs), looked like a guy who might give Calvin Johnson a run for his money. TE Jason Witten (1,039 yards) and WR Miles Austin (943 yards, 6 TDs) round out perhaps the best pass-catching trio in the league. On the other side of the ball, LBs DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer combined for 22.5 sacks. So why does this story end at 8-8 and another failed season in Dallas? Your guess is as good as ours. For whatever reason, this team just can’t find a way to put itself in position to make a playoff run. After three year’s of the same, we can’t find a way to justify ranking the ’Boys higher.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Kelly’s sped-up offense means excitement — and blunder
Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles ran 1,079 offensive plays from scrimmage in 16 games. That pace was sixth in the league. Last season, Chip Kelly’s Oregon squad ran 1,077 plays from scrimmage –in just 13 games! With Michael Vick at QB (and maybe former Wildcat Nick Foles while Vick mends from his usual dings and dents), DeSean Jackson at WR and LeSean McCoy at RB, it should be fun to watch – so long as they hold up their end of the bargain and keep the Eagles’ defense from being on the field too much. Here’s betting that Year 1 has too much of the latter than the former — enough to keep them from making a playoff push.
FANTASY FRIENDLY: David Wilson, RB, Giants
He was on everyone’s radar already, but now with fellow back Andre Brown out for 4-6 weeks with a broken leg, Wilson is the man. In a division with many exciting players, he could be the most electric — if he can hold onto the football.