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Defense Will Decide the NFC East
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Dateline: September 8, 2001

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"With the addition of Shotty, the Redskins' fate is sealed. He has always found ways to blow the big games and will continue to do so. He is just one of those type of people. Yeah, he makes the playoffs and his teams win, but he is the type of guy who just makes that one bad or conservative decison at the wrong time and always blows it."
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If you're into high-flying atomic offenses that send wide receivers and running backs streaking all over the field, racking up astronomical yardage and scoring unprecedented point totals, then don't come to the NFC East. You won't see much of that here. You won't see many 40-point outbursts or 500-yard passing games, but you will see a couple of very strong defenses.

Unfortunately for Cowboy fans, they don't have either. Their offense is being run by a rookie quarterback that was not that spectacular in college and their defense was the league's worst against the run in 2000. Out of the 53 players left on the roster for opening day, 38 have three years or less experience in the NFL.

This Cowboys are a team that is going to make a lot of mistakes and have a very long season, and by very long, I don't mean they will be going deep into the playoffs. It's just going to seem long to the players and the coaches, and the fans. If this team wins four games this year, I would consider it a success.

The Arizona Cardinals aren't going anywhere this year either, although head coach Dave McGinnis seems to have them going in the right direction. They have a huge offensive line, and second-year running back Thomas Jones may be ready to take full advantage of it. The key will be to get quarterback Jake Plummer playing with confidence again after a couple of very shakey seasons. I think the Cardinals will be a little better this year, but I wouldn't look for them in the post-season.

The Washington Redskins could be a big wild card in the NFC East race now that they are not carrying the added pressure of being the favorite, but I don't look for much more than a wild card appearance in the post-season. I do think new head coach Marty Schottenheimer will have them somewhere around the .500 mark, and might possibly get them into the playoffs... if quarterback Jeff George can managed to play for the team this season and adapt to Scottenheimer's short passing attack.

The Philadelphia Eagles are being picked by many to take over the top slot in the east this year, and they certainly have a defense that can match the New York Giants play-for-play, but I want to see how well this offense is going to play before I proclaim them to be Super Bowl bound.

Let's see how well quarterback Donovan McNabb and his new wide receivers play together. The return of running back Duce Staly will take some of the load off McNabb, but for the Eagles to become legitimate Super Bowl contenders, they must be able to move the ball through the air consistently.

The same thing can be said about the Giants also. Kerry Collins needs to build on last year's success, and forget about his performance against the Ravens last January, if the Giants are to make a return trip to the championship game.

The Giants have an outstanding starting lineup, but the are not very deep at many positions. A key injury here or there could have a huge impact on their season, especially if it comes on the offensive line where there is very little experience on the bench.

The Eagles and Giants are clearly the favorites going into the season, and appear to be pretty evenly matched, so I think the team that stays the healthiest is most likely going to be the one that comes out on top.

My Prediction

Team Record
Preview
Philadelphia Eagles 11-5 Eagles' Defense Ready to Roll
New York Giants 10-6 Giants Set to Defend NFC Title
Washington Redskins 8-8 The Pressure's Off the Redskins
Arizona Cardinals 6-10 Cardinals Moving Up!
Dallas Cowboys 2-14 Cowboys Positioning for the Future
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