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Football picksJuly 18, 2008

NFL Previews 2008: NFC East

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:
 
1. DALLAS
2. PHILADELPHIA
3. NY GIANTS
4. WASHINGTON

DALLAS 
COACH: WADE PHILLIPS 2nd yr (13-4)
LAST YEAR:  13-3
GAMES DECIDED BY 3 OR LESS:  2-0
BIGGEST ADDITION: ZACH THOMAS LB
BIGGEST LOSS: JULIUS JONES RB

DIRECTION: GOING DOWN
OUTLOOK: After a great regular season, the curtain came down fast on the Cowboys in the post-season losing to the Giants at home. The Cowboys didn’t need drastic improvement anywhere, as they are solid across the board. The biggest problems this season will come from the competition in their own division. Those six games are all going to be battles as the NFC East appears to be the strongest conference for the upcoming ’08 season. In addition, road games at Cleveland and at Pittsburgh will surely be no picnic. The Cowboys aren’t really any better or worse than they were last year, but the teams they face six times this season within the division are all better, and it could take a few wins away.
 
PROJECTED FINISH: 10-6

PHILADELPHIA 
COACH: ANDY REID 10th yr. (96-62)
LAST YEAR:  8-8
GAMES DECIDED BY 3 OR LESS: 0-3
BIGGEST ADDITION: ASANTE SAMUEL CB
BIGGEST LOSS: TAKEO SPIKES LB
 
DIRECTION: GOING UP
OUTLOOK: One of the problems for the Eagles last season was their inability to turn the opponent over, as they finished dead last in the league, forcing just 19 turnovers. The result was they just didn’t win close games as they finished 0-3 in games decided by 3 points or less. They have added two key playmakers on the defensive side with Asante Samuel and Chris Clemons which should add to their defensive capabilities. McNabb now has a year under his belt after coming off a knee injury last season and should look a lot more like his old self this season. He showed no mobility last season until late in the year, and we expect him to start the season with that same mobility. There is room for improvement here, and the Eagles will add to their ’07 win total.

PROJECTED FINISH:  10-6 

NY GIANTS
COACH: TOM COUGHLIN 5th yr (39-31)
LAST YEAR: 10-6
GAMES DECIDED BY 3 OR LESS: 2-1
BIGGEST ADDITION: SAMMY KNIGHT S
BIGGEST LOSS: KAWIKA MITCHELL LB
 
DIRECTION: GOING DOWN
OUTLOOK: The Giants looked like an ordinary team last season until they almost knocked off the Patriots in the final week and got on a huge run leading all the way to win the Superbowl. So what happens in the aftermath? Quite frequently teams don’t seem to come back with the same edge. Since this Giant team came so far to finish the season, we may see more of the team that was a borderline playoff caliber team, than the one that caught lightning in a bottle to close on one of the best finishes in NFL history. Eli Manning has demonstrated inconsistency throughout his career, except during the late run last season where it seemed every Giants player played over his head. It would not be a surprise to see this team falter, like so many Superbowl winners in the past, especially when this is not a Superbowl caliber team on paper. But with that said, they are still a playoff contender.
 
PROJECTED FINISH:  9-7
 
WASHINGTON 
COACH: JIM ZORN  1st yr
LAST YEAR:  9-7
GAMES DECIDED BY 3 OR LESS:  3-2
BIGGEST ADDITION: DEVIN THOMAS WR
BIGGEST LOSS: SEAN TAYLOR  S
 
DIRECTION: GOING DOWN
OUTLOOK: Joe Gibbs has now left the Redskins for the second time and the Skins will be under the guidance of Jim Zorn. Expect more offense as Zorn will bring the West Coast offense to Washington. A lot of this team’s fate will reside with the development of Jason Campbell. The Skins spent three draft picks to get him and at times he looks like the QB they think he will become, but to date he has been inconsistent. If he has a breakout season in the West Coast offense the Redskins could take a jump ahead. This is a team on which owner Dan Snyder has typically thrown around money for free agents, but this year the team will return virtually intact. The Redskins beat both the Giants and Dallas in two of their last three games, and have the capability to hang with them again. But the East is very tough and as a result, they may end up as a .500 team.
 
PROJECTED FINISH:   8-8