2010 NFL Predictions: Vernon Croy’s 2010 NFC East Preview
1. Dallas Cowboys
2. Philadelphia Eagles
3. New York Giants
4. Washington Redskins
Dallas Cowboys – 2010 NFL Prediction 11-5
The Dallas Cowboys won their first playoff game of the Tony Romo-era last season and will look to build upon that moderate success this time around. Getting off to a good start will be a major key, as division rivals Philadelphia and Washington will be dealing with some significant personnel changes and could be slow out of the gate. The Cowboys have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and could be a contender in the NFC, although there will be a great deal of pressure involved, since the Super Bowl is being held in Dallas this year. One question mark will come at the free safety position, as converted cornerback Alan Ball will be replacing the departed Ken Hamlin.
The Cowboys did not make many changes during the off-season, although left tackle Flozell Adams was released. The team also drafted highly touted wide receiver Dez Bryant, which will give Romo one more playmaker with which to work. One question mark with the Cowboys is the durability of running backs Marion Barber and Felix Jones, as both struggled to stay healthy last season. If the running game can get back on track after a difficult 2009 season, the Cowboys will likely repeat as NFC East champions in 2010.
Philadelphia Eagles – 2010 NFL Prediction 10-6
There is a new era is Philadelphia this season, as Kevin Kolb will be taking over for the departed Donavon McNabb. This is a significant move for a number of reasons, as it is very rare that a contending team would trade a franchise quarterback. The Eagles, however, have a lot of confidence in Kolb, who had a couple of 300-yard games in his two starts in 2009. The Eagles have one of the most talented receiving corps in the league, so Kolb will have plenty of weapons at his disposal early. If their questionable offensive line holds up, the Eagles should once again have a very good offense.
The Eagles also said good-bye to veteran tailback Brian Westbrook in the off-season, which will put much of the pressure on sophomore LeShaun McCoy. Free agent signing Mike Bell will be used in short yardage situations, however, which should alleviate some of the pressure. The main reason for the Eagles’ struggles against Dallas at the end of 2009 was the defense, as it was incredibly inconsistent. First round pick Brandon Graham and trade acquisition Darryl Tapp should help the team’s pass rush considerably and linebacker Ernie Sims should upgrade the team’s run defense. The Eagles also picked up a potential replacement for departed safety Brian Dawkins in rookie Nate Allen. This move should improve the team’s pass defense, as Allen does have some great ball skills.
New York Giants – 2010 NFL Prediction 8-8
The Giants made a few changes this off-season, highlighted by drafting defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in the first round and signing safety Antrel Rolle. When the Giants won the Super Bowl, they were driven by an outstanding pass rush, but they have struggled in that regard since the retirement of Michael Strahan. Pierre-Paul should help out in that respect, while incoming defensive tackle Linval Joseph should help against the run. If this team is to return to its status as a legitimate contender, it will need a much better performance out of its defense this time around.
This team will once again rely on Eli Manning to carry the offense, with receivers Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham giving him three solid options. Tight end Kevin Boss is also one of the top players at his position in the league, so Manning will not have any problem finding a target. Brandon Jacobs will look to recover from an injury-plagued 2009 season, with Ahmed Bradshaw shouldering more of the load in an attempt to keep Jacobs fresh. This might be the last chance for Jacobs in New York, as he takes a lot of punishment and has some significant durability concerns at this point in his career.
Washington Redskins – 2010 NFL Prediction 6-10
The Washington Redskins have made numerous changes this off-season and look, on paper, to be a greatly improved team. These changes started with the hiring of Mike Shanahan as head coach, which will bring an entirely different attitude to the nation’s capital. Quarterback Donovan McNabb will immediately improve the team’s passing game, as he has shown on countless occasions that he is one of the best players in the league. The ‘Skins also attempted to upgrade their offensive line over the winter by drafting Trent Williams in the first round and signing former Pro Bowler Jammal Brown. Since running back Clinton Portis is aging, the team signed Willie Parker and Larry Johnson to help him carry the load, which should help as the season progresses.
The problems for the Redskins will likely come from the defensive side of the ball, as they will be switching to a new defensive scheme. Washington is also dealing with problem child Albert Haynesworth, who is unhappy with the team just one year after signing a 7-year, $100 million contact. While Haynesworth will report to the team, after threatening to a holdout, he will likely be a distraction if he cannot be moved. The team also added Adam Carriker, Vonnie Holliday, Chris Draft, and Phillip Buchanon to its defense, which should be greatly improved. Even though I see the Redskins with only 6 wins they could surpass that mark if they start to gel quickly as a team under Mike Shanahan.
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