Here’s Fox Sports Adam Schein’s prediction on the NFC East:
1. Dallas Cowboys
Head coach: Wade Phillips, 6th year, 1st with Cowboys
2006 record: 9-7 (2nd in NFC East); lost in wild-card game to the Seattle Seahawks
Schein’s projected record 11-5
Tony Romo is for real and will prove it in his first full season as a starting quarterback. As a result, Terrell Owens will be more consistent in 2007 and Jason Witten will raise his touchdown total. Julius Jones is happy and healthy and will succeed in a contract year. While Terence Newman’s foot injury is a huge concern, the Dallas defense should make a lot of game-altering plays under the direction of new coach Wade Phillips. The upside of DeMarcus Ware, Marcus Spears Chris Canty and Co. will keep offensive coordinators up at night.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
Head coach: Andy Reid, 9th year
2006 record: 10-6 (1st in NFC East); lost in divisional playoffs to New Orleans Saints
Schein’s projected record 10-6 (wild card)
Donovan McNabb is healthy and has something to prove after the club drafted Kevin Kolb. Remember what the quarterback did before he got hurt last year. But we want to see balance on offense with the way Brian Westbrook performed sans McNabb down the stretch. The injury to guard Shaun Andrews is a major concern. While the release of Jeremiah Trotter stunned the Eagles players, and the linebackers are relatively green (no pun intended), the run defense should be improved with second year tackle Brodrick Bunkley showing signs. Andy Reid is one of the best coaches in the NFL and will get this team back to the tournament.
3. New York Giants
Head coach: Tom Coughlin, 12th year, 4th with Giants
2006 record: 8-8 (3rd in NFC East); lost in wild-card game to Philadelphia Eagles
Schein’s projected record 6-10
The players are playing for Tom Coughlin’s future as the Giants coach. Plaxico Burress has had a multitude of injuries and hasn’t had the proper time to develop chemistry with Eli Manning in the passing attack this summer. And there’s still doubt about Manning’s consistency. Brandon Jacobs is a load but he can’t fully replace Tiki Barber. The offensive line lacks depth with Luke Petitgout in Tampa. And the defensive line lacks punch in the middle, though Osi Unenyiora is a star on the outside and Justin Tuck is healthy and ready. But who knows about Michael Strahan.
4. Washington Redskins
Head coach: Joe Gibbs, 16th year
2006 record: 5-11 (4th in NFC East)
Schein’s projected record 5-11
The overall health of Clinton Portis is problematic and this could be the running back’s last season with the Redskins. I like Jason Campbell but wonder about the true talent and depth of his receivers. LaRon Landry could end up winning defensive rookie of the year. He’s that good. But the quality of the defensive line and health of Marcus Washington could spell doom once again for Joe Gibbs’ squad.
Adam Schein has it correct in my book, that’s how I see the NFC East shaking out. I think at best, the Eagles go 10-6 and 8-8 at worst. The rest of the pack are not that good.Â The Giants may have something in rookie WR Steve Smith, but nothing that will help the Giants be a playoff caliber team. These players are quitters, and once the crap hits the fan, the team will shutdown on Coughlin, its just a matter of time.Â I think NY will see the Giants take a beating in the running game. Jacobs is going to be what Hambrick was to us. Jacobs looked good in short yardage, but he’s no every down back by any means, and Droughns is average too. They have a weak 1-2 combo in NY, andÂ NY will be calling for Coughlin’s head midseason.
Gibbs is in the same boat if not worse off for the simple fact that he has Synder as the Owner, his team has nothing but subpar players, injury prone “stars” and his stay in D.C. has draggedÂ on farÂ too long. Gibbs’ stintÂ is a complete utter failure in D.C. Synder isÂ what theÂ Madden cover is to players, but in his case, coaches. He curses coaches, and dooms them. What a mess over there.Â