- Dal (11-5). Reading through other predictions, I know that I’m pretty much on my own here thinking the Cowboys will be division winners. I think they will benefit from playing in a division on the decline. But importantly, don’t forget the Cowboys are loaded with talent. Romo will prove this year that he can play in big games, Witten is the best TE in football (until Jermichael Finley develops a bit more), Roy Williams at one time was a tremendous WR for Detroit, the other WRs are quietly not bad, the defense is at least decent and the Cowboys may end up with the best running game in football this year. (I am particularly excited to see the Cowboys use the duo of Felix Jones and Marion Barber at the same time in the backfield because this just makes sense to me.) T.O. was a distraction especially last year and not just for Romo. He bothered Witten, the OC Jason Garrett, the head coach and other WRs. This team is set to rebound and could finally do some damage in the playoffs.
- Philly (10-6). Philly could be good again this year. They’ve finally given McNabb some better WR targets and Brent Celek may be poised for a breakout season. My concern is the defense though. With Jim Johnson’s passing, the team loses a brilliant defensive mind. New DC Sean McDermott may have been well schooled by Johnson, but I’m doubtful he will demonstrate the kind in-game coaching ability Johnson did…at least early on. And the Eagles lost perhaps their most spirited/respected leader in Brian Dawkins as well as the unknown but quality LB Stewart Bradley. I wonder if McNabb may feel more pressure on himself/the offense if the defense ends up being considerably less reliable than it has in the past.
- Wash (7-9). The Redskins will play hard and have their moments, but this will likely be the end of Jim Zorn’s time there. Zorn is one of those guys I could see going somewhere else and doing fine – just not in Washington. The big question for the Skins this year, as it is most years, is: what can they expect from QB Jason Campbell. From the sound of it, Zorn and co plan to open up the passing game allowing for more deep throws than in previous years when Campbell has been held in check w/re to throwing down field. This is one of those quiet changes that might end up really helping out this team. Just having watched the Skins a few times over the last 1-2 years, I have noticed that their field on offense often seems congested – spreading the field may indeed force defenses to pay more attention to the pass instead of focusing so much on stopping Portis.
- NYG (6-10). Ok, I believe I have been wrong each of the last 3 years picking the Giants. I usually pick them to suck because I still think I’m in denial that Eli Manning is any good. But this year, I really think I’m going to be right (whatever that means). I see the Giants’ reliance on their running game as a potential problem as teams may focus on defending the run while taking their chances against a weak receiving corps. Even though the Giants’ O-line is still probably one of the better ones out there, I just don’t see this offense causing the kind of damage that a playoff team needs to cause. The defense will be good, but probably no better than average. I think the loss of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will be significant.