The 2010 NFL regular season kicks off September 9th with a bang. In a rematch of last year's NFC Championship Game, Minnesota takes on defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. Dallas is getting a head start on competitors when they become the first team hitting practice fields (July 24th). From coast to coast plenty of news will be coming from NFL cities as teams try to stay injury free this preseason prepping for a grueling 16 game war. Every division will be a fierce battle. Plenty of question marks will be answered one way or another. Can Romo finally step up a become a big game QB? Will the Giants bounce back to Super form? Can New Orleans take advantage of a weak schedule and repeat? How about those tarnished stars? Will Roethlisberger, Vick, Owens and company ever straighten out their troubled persona's?
Each day this week I'll be breaking down the NFL division by division. First up NFC East.
1) New York Giants A series of devastating injuries to key personnel derailed New York's season (8-8) after they opened up 5-0. Manning and a young receiving corps were often out of sync. Look for the offense to be explosive this year if the line is sound. On defense, draft picks were a bit questionable and may not provide immediate impact. However, if all returning injured players are fully healthy then this will be a dangerous team in every facet of the game. 7th hardest NFL schedule heading into 2010. Coaches will have them ready to play. Giants are hungry and will emerge division winners.
2) Dallas Cowboys The Cowboys finally enjoyed a strong regular season finish in '09 winning their final 3 (2 by shutout). Dallas even found a way to win their first playoff game since December 28, 1996. Excitement is in the air once again heading into 2010 for a team which many think has never realized full potential. QB Tony Romo continues to be plagued by lack of leadership critiques and inability to perform in big games. Coaching staff play calling and lack of player control/respect carries over once again. If they can keep the sideshow off the field then Dallas could be primed for a Super run. Explosive weapons on offense and aggressive defense (NFC low 250 points against) set the stage for a big year. Despite all their talent something always seems to unhinge this squad. 2nd place on the way vs NFL's 3rd toughest schedule. They'll be in the wild card hunt.
3) Washington Redskins Welcome Mike Shanahan, new coaches and new team field general Donovan McNabb. The Redskins are finally getting their act together. Questionable first two draft picks could pay huge dividends if these players are committed to excellence (Trent Williams, OL, Oklahoma & Perry Riley, OLB, LSU). Washington is probably another 2 years from making a serious run. However, do not take this team lightly. 'Skins will be greatly improved from a dismal 4-12 shellacking of 2009. Expect these seasoned vets to play inspired football. 8-8 is well within reach.
4) Philadelphia Eagles I've always believed a few screws must be loose in the minds of Philly's personnel decision makers. On and off over the years the football world has wondered aloud what life would be like without Donovan McNabb under center. Well they're about to find out how quickly life changes after trading away a career 92-49-1 quarterback who led Eagles teams into the playoffs in 8 of 10 seasons. Worse yet, McNabb was traded to division rival Washington. Revenge is sweet McNabb gets two cracks per seasn vs a team he knows inside and out. Kevin Kolb filled in well when McNabb missed time and will be given every opportunity to claim starter status. On the field Michael Vick gets a crack to unseat Kolb. Off field troubles continue haunting this guy and might lead to getting cut or traded. It's going to be a very long season in Philadelphia. Terrible draft picks makes one wonder if it's time to replace their entire scouting staff. 11-5 might become 5-11 (if they're lucky).