NFL Preview Bonanza: NFC East

DISCLAIMER: I will be particularly unfair and subjective in this divisional analysis.

NEW YORK GIANTS

Last Season: 12-4

This Season: 11-5, NFC #1

First of all, let’s chill out about the receiver situation. Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon are tenable NFL receivers. Especially when you complement them with the league’s best rushing attack—as much a product of the offensive line than Brandon Jacobs and, this season, Ahmad Bradshaw—and arguably its best defensive line. The Giants are, to me, the NFC team with the fewest unanswered questions, and that’s why everyone harps so much on the receiver one. The bigger question, though, is if Eli Manning can throw a football through wind. Because he hasn’t done that yet, and if he still can’t this year, I’ll be hoping Big Blue can go on the road in the playoffs again.

Tim’s favorite players in New York Giant history is…: You expect me to settle for one? I own jerseys of Rodney Hampton, Jason Sehorn, Tiki Barber, Jeremy Shockey, Michael Strahan, and Lawrence Taylor. If pressed to choose one player, I’d go with the greatest defensive player of all-time. If you give me more latitude, I’ll throw in Simms, Hampton, Tiki, Amani Toomer, Dave Meggett, Carl Banks, Pepper Johnson, Jesse Armstead, Matt Bahr, Jeff Feagles…

Greatest Ever? Greatest Ever.

Remember when Giant fans liked Tiki Barber? It seems so long ago. Back then, we thought he’d be a good broadcaster, too. We were so naïve.

And Sehorn? Now hold on. Sehorn was en route to stardom until he tore his ACL in that preseason game against the Jets in 1998. August 20, to be exact—the same night Mark McGwire hit two home runs (Nos. 50-51) in a doubleheader at Shea Stadium. If not for that injury—particularly devastating to a cornerback who didn’t have a lot of margin for error in terms of speed—Sehorn would have been a legit Pro Bowler.

A Great and Recent Giant Game: The Greatest from February 3, 2008. But let’s not forget other Great and Recent Giant Games, such as “Third Tynes the Charm,” the last regular-season game against the Broncos, 41-0, that other regular-season game against the Broncos, Mark Ingram! (or Scott Norwood!), and Matt Bahr!

Yeah, field goal kicking was important in 1990: Yes, yes it was.

Can we get that Montana hit? That might be the iconic hit on a quarterback.

Not Theismann? That’s just mean. (P.S. I still can’t watch that. It’s too painful. And I really dislike Joe Theismann!)

Can you say one thing bad about the Giants? Of course. But I won’t.

Not even about Tom Coughlin? You mean “The Debacler”? Nah, we’re cool now.

If the Giants were a historical event, they would be: The Treaty of Verdun. Charlemagne/Plaxico Burress’ responsibilities have been split up and delegated to several more individuals. How will the new leaders cooperate in response?

Did you know? I love the Giants.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Last Season: 9-6-1

This Season: 10-6, NFC #5

If anything, this promised to be a less tumultuous season in the City of Brotherly Love, until of course the Eagles signed Michael Vick. Now, Vick’s potential in a Wildcat scheme scares me a little, but his potential to undermine Donovan McNabb should scare Eagles’ fans more. Now, there will be at least one week during the season when McNabb struggles and the crowd calls for Vick, and Andy Reid hasn’t always been one to make the best decisions for his team. Nevertheless, this might be the most explosive Eagles’ offense since Terrell Owens was happy in Philly. On the other hand, the defense will suffer from the loss of Stewart Bradley and more significantly, Jim Johnson.

Tim’s favorite player in Philadelphia Eagle history is…: Even I have to give props to Randall Cunningham. That guy was unbelievable (and another unstoppable Tecmo force).

Not Brian Dawkins? What is the Eagles’ love affair with Brian Dawkins? He was a pretty good safety. Do Bronco fans wax poetically about Steve Atwater?

A Great and Recent Eagle Game: If I had known what was going to happen two weeks later, I would not have enjoyed this game quite as much. But seeing that Cowboysteam lose like this was pretty cool.

Why don’t the Eagles paint their whole end zone instead of just behind the wordmark? You’ve got me. This has been frustrating me for years.

The Eagles’ Best Loss to the Giants was…: The 2000 Divisional Playoff, where the game essentially ended on its first play. Jason Sehorn’s ridiculous pick-six—really the last time he did anything positive on the field—is also worthy of a link. (And turn this up if you want to hear Summerall and Madden on the first play.)

Man, remember when the Eagles’ receivers were James Thrash and Todd Pinkston? Don’t forget Na Brown!

If the Eagles were a work of American literature, they would be: Of Mice and Men. Because you know it’s not going to end well between McNabb/George and Vick/Lennie.

Did you know? The Eagles have lost a lot of championship games this decade. Four to be exact.

DALLAS COWBOYS

Last Season: 9-7

This Season: 8-8

Having Patrick Crayton as your No. 2 wide receiver isn’t a big problem when the No. 1 receiver is Terrell Owens. When No. 1 is Roy Williams, it’s a different story. The Cowboys did nothing short of implode last season, and they need to get off to a strong start in 2009 to avoid missing the playoffs a second straight year. The schedule does them some favors early, but none late, so I see Dallas slipping in the final six weeks of the year, much like they have the last several seasons. It will be interesting to see how the Wade Phillips/Jason Garrett power struggle plays out, what with Garrett having such a miserable year last season.

Tim’s favorite player in Dallas Cowboy history is…: Slim pickings, so I’ll go with Jersey Guy and local product, Miles Austin. To be fair, I always thought Daryl Johnston and Jay Novacek were underrated.

Not Emmitt? Most overrated player in NFL history. Dennis Byrd could run for 1,000 yards behind that line.

Too soon. Yeah, too soon.

A Great and Recent Cowboy Game: Not many people remember Dallas’ 20-6 win over the Broncos last October. Word has it, it was a long day for Denver’s quarterback.

Really? That’s what you’re sticking with? You find video evidence of Dallas’ last playoff win.

Hey, name some cool things that have happened since that 40-15 win over the Vikings in 1996: Here’s one: The Internet. (More or less).

The Cowboys’ Best Loss to the Giants was…: Spearheaded by the remarkable halftime arrival of Becky “The Icebox” O’Shea, the Giants came back from a 21-0 deficit to stun the Cowboys on a miraculous final play. Oh, and this one wasn’t too bad, either.

You really hate the Cowboys, don’t you? Come on, the America’s Team crap? Please. America has class.

If the Cowboys were a major recording artist, they would be: Mariah Carey. Despite desperate cries for attention, they’ve barely been relevant since the early ‘90s.

Did you know? That huge scoreboard at Cowboys Stadium was a dumb idea.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Last Season: 8-8

This Season: 7-9

The Redskins right now are kind of in the same position as the Toronto Blue Jays: They’re pretty good, and I could see them winning the other three divisions in the NFC. But not this one. Jason Campbell is an average quarterback at best, Clinton Portis is no longer an elite 16-game running back, and Santana Moss can’t carry the offensive load. Albert Haynesworth will improve the defense, but it still lacks the game-changing pass rusher off the edge.

Tim’s favorite player in Washington Redskin history is…: Who doesn’t like Darrell Green? Class act, all the way. He needed to be to beat out Jeff Hayes.

A Great and Recent Redskin Game: Two for the price of one against the Cowboys from 2005 and 2006. The Moss Game was totally out-of-the-blue while the second is just a ridiculous way to end a game.

I had forgotten Drew Bledsoe quarterbacked the Cowboys: That’s inexcusable.

The Redskins’ Best Loss to the Giants was…: The Wellington Mara Game in 2005 is a personal favorite for me. If I could find video, though, of the 30-13 drubbing to clinch the division in 1997, I’d go with that as well.

And don’t forget Gus Frerotte: How could anyone forget about Gus Frerotte?

Heath Shuler tried: Now wait a minute. As a North Carolina Congressman and with children named Navy and Island, is it too late to say that maybe Heath Shuler is the real winner of that quarterback debate?

I think it is too late: Touché, my interlocutor, touché.

Bold Prediction of the Season: The Lions will end their regular season losing streak in Week 3 against the Washington Redskins.

If the Redskins were a character from The Simpsons, they would be: Moe Szyslak. Usually in the background, but occasionally they take a starring turn.

Did you know? Joe Gibbs’ teams were known for fighting hard and playing their guts out.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John S on September 10, 2009 at 1:15 PM

    Who’s going to be the first pro team to actually employ the Annexation of Puerto Rico?

    Reply

  2. Posted by James Schneider on September 10, 2009 at 10:32 PM

    uh, if you knew ANYTHING about football, you would know that that play was inspired by john madden’s raiders, you stupid, stupid older brother

    Reply

  3. Actually, James, what I believe you’re referring to is the infamous “Holy Roller” play the Raiders pulled in 1978 to beat the Chargers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNMy6FV10VM)–a play that was obviously not choreographed and led to a change in the ruling (now a fumble in the last two minutes must be recovered by the fumbler to advance the ball).

    The real inspiration for the Annexation of Puerto Rico, on the other hand, was the “Fumblerooski,” most famously used by Nebraska in the 1984 Orange Bowl against Miami (you can see it here at about the 6:30 mark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-EDPjwgRjo). The Fumblerooski was made illegal in 1992.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Alex in Oklahoma on September 16, 2009 at 12:00 PM

    Think if you look at the Giants schedule, 12-4 is not totally unrealistic. If you figure they split games with Filthy and Dallas, and all their home games are totally winnable, then you have 8 wins right there. Their road schedule is pretty easy, except for at New Orleans and at Minnesota at the end of the year, but I’m thinking that game will be last year and not matter.

    And if you’re looking for great recent games, how about in 06 in week 2 at Filthy? They were down 24-7 in the fourth quarter and came back to win in OT, when Burress hauled in a pass on 3rd and 15.

    Reply

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