Guest post by Niles Pender of NFL Fan Appeal
The NFC East is one of the most frequently discussed divisions in football, and there’s no question of why. It’s full of great rivalries, storied teams and talented players. The division will likely receive even more attention this season, considering that one of its members is the reigning league champion. How will 2012 look for this exciting division?
All eyes are going to be on the New York Giants in 2012. The team finished just 9-7 and was a distant pick to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of January. That changed, and the Giants were Super Bowl champions by the time that mid-February rolled around.
Repeating will be on the mind of every player wearing a Giants uniform this season. That’s the case with any Super Bowl champion, but these Giants will probably have more of a chip on their shoulder than usual. They were a long shot to win it all last season, and they’ll be anxious to prove that it wasn’t a fluke. Quarterback Eli Manning will be looking for his third ring. Anchored by wide receivers Viztor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, the 2012 Giants have retained most of their personnel and look poised to make another run.
After the Giants, the next NFC East football squad that the world will be watching is the
Philadelphia Eagles. The 2011 campaign was a disaster for the team. After the Eagles acquired Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and more, QB Vince Young referred to the Eagles as a “Dream Team” thanks to the level of talents they had. Unfortunately, this comment backfired throughout the season. Behind below-average play from most of their personnel and injuries to Michael Vick, the Eagles stumbled to a 4-8 start and missed the playoffs.
For Philadelphia, the individual talent is there. The team simply needs to take advantage and work together as a more cohesive unit. Although some fans have called for head coach Andy Reid’s head, he and defensive coordinator Juan Castillo have remained in their respective roles. With a clearer focus this season, the team has the potential to make a deep playoff run. There’s no questioning the immense level of individual talent that the team has, but they need to make use of it in some way.
Aside from the Giants and Eagles, another high-profile team in the division is the Dallas Cowboys. For better or for worse, the Cowboys are always the recipients of a lot of attention. The team finished 8-8 in 2011, which was a minor improvement from their 8-8 record in 2010 but still miles away from their 11-5 record in 2009. For 2012 to be a successful year, the Cowboys are going to have to do a couple of things, such as figuring out what to do with upset CB Mike Jenkins.
Aside from the Jenkins situation, the most important thing to Dallas being successful is to maintain steady play at the quarterback position. Tony Romo is a solid starting QB, but he’s become an injury liability. He missed extended time in 2010 and played hurt through part of 2011 with a bruised throwing hand. The Cowboys added veteran Kyle Orton this past March, and he’ll be a good insurance policy for Romo. There’s no reason to believe the Cowboys can’t win 10 or 11 football games this season.
One of the division’s wildcards is the Washington Redskins. The team is sure to receive a lot of national attention for their acquisition of Robert Griffin III in this year’s draft. Griffin III is seen as one of the top quarterback prospects of the last few years, and there was real speculation leading up to the draft over whether or not he should have been taken by the Colts at number one overall. RG3 is slated to be the team’s starting quarterback this season, and his performance will have more to do with how the team finishes than anything. He’ll have a supporting backfield of Tim Hightower and Roy Helu, so if he does well the Redskins could be a fringe playoff team.
The NFC East should be one of the most entertaining divisions to watch in this year’s season. The Giants will be trying desperately to prove themselves to everyone who says their win was a fluke, and they’ll have the Eagles and Cowboys potentially nipping at their ankles. Whether or not the Giants can return to the Super Bowl will be one of the most fun questions that gets answered in the 2012 season.