NFC East- This division is completely up for grabs.
By New Contributor Jimmy Hawley
Washington Redskins (2-2)
Washington has been greatly improved by the arrival of new coach Mike Shanahan and longtime Eagles QB Donovan McNabb. The team has to be ecstatic about their 2-0 start within the division with big wins over the Cowboys and the Eagles. While the loss to the Rams was a little baffling, the Redskins have shown a new toughness under Shanahan and even Albert Haynesworth, who has been a major distraction this season, played very well against the Eagles.
Standout Players: Donovan McNabb, Brian Orakpo, Santana Moss
New York Giants (2-2)
The Giants finally saw the resurgence of their defense in their last game against the Bears, registering an
incredible 10 sacks. The defense, which looked awful in the loss to the Colts, is starting to find its rhythm. The offense, however, is still a big problem spot, and they need improved play out of Eli Manning if they want to contend in the division.
Standout Players: Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka, Justin Tuck
Philadelphia Eagles (2-2)
Philadelphia may have taken for granted how great it is to have a reliable QB in Donovan McNabb. The concussion to QB Kevin Kolb opened up the door for Michael Vick to showcase what could only be characterized as a MVP performance in his first three appearances, leaving Kolb, who was once thought of as the future franchise QB as merely an afterthought. Vickmania may need to cool down, however, as Vick suffered an injury to his ribs. The injury is not likely to keep Vick out of action for more than two weeks, but it is obvious the type of style Vick plays makes him more susceptible to injuries. Kevin Kolb will get the chance in the mean time to try to show why the Eagles traded away McNabb, and QB situation in Philadelphia will likely be a yearlong storyline and continue into the offseason. Despite the issues, the Eagles are right in the mix to contend for the division and have the talent to rise to the top, however that chance will suffer if Vick cannot stay healthy.
Standout Players: Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy
Dallas Cowboys (1-2)
Dallas seems to have one of the most talented teams in the league every year, yet it is always a question of if that talent can translate into wins. The Cowboys are usually a team that starts out great and fades as the season progresses, but this year they have struggled right out of the gate. A mediocre offensive line has made the running game practically nonexistent. They may have righted the ship with the win against the Texans, but the team has a brutal schedule this year. The defense is solid but does not create many turnovers and if they continue to be a one dimensional team on offense, they will not be able to win the division.
Standout Players: Tony Romo, Miles Austin, DeMarcus Ware
Prediction: The Giants defense and improved play from Eli Manning earns New York the division title in what will likely be the closest divisional race in the NFC.
AFC East – One of the strongest divisions in the NFL
By Keith McGonigle
New York Jets (3-1)
After a tough season opening loss to the Ravens, everyone criticized Jets and the arrogance they displayed in Hard Knocks. Since then, however, they have looked like the super bowl contenders they talked about. Mark Sanchez has really come on, throwing 8 touchdowns 0 interceptions in the last three games. Rex Ryan’s defense has had some injuries, but they have not lost a step. With WR Santonio Holmes coming back from his suspension and CB Darrelle Revis and LB Calvin Pace both coming back from injury, it is scary to think how good the Jets could be.
Surprise players: LaDainian Tomlinson, Mark Sanchez, Dustin Keller
New England Patriots (3-1)
The Patriots first three games were a roller coaster ride, but they are coming off a huge road game against the Miami Dolphins, a team they have struggled against in the past. Bill Belichick’s teams are usually defined by veteran players and high IQ guys. This year the Patriots team is filled with a lot of young fast players that are still trying to grasp all the concepts. Six rookies have started and contributed so far this year. The offense has been very efficient; they haven’t put up great stats, but lead the NFL in points per game. The big question will be can the young defensive players mature and play like a Belichick coached team.
Surprise Players: Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Tate, Patrick Chung
Miami Dolphins (2-2)
Many people picked the Dolphins to win the AFC East this year so the 2-2 start is somewhat disappointing. Overall, the Dolphins have played pretty well except a few phases of the game. They just fired their special teams coach after two poor performances against the Jets and Patriots. They have also had too many turnovers and some questionable play calling. The talent is still there though; individually a lot of players have done well. They have a very tough stretch of games coming up; we will see what the Dolphins are made of in the coming weeks.
Surprise Players: Davone Bess, Cameron Wake, Jason Allen
There really is not a lot to say about the Buffalo Bills. They are the worst team in the NFL. You have to think that this season they are just playing for the first overall pick in next year’s draft, so they can finally get a franchise QB. The only problem is the Bills are so bad at drafting I don’t know if they will even select a QB.
Surprise Players: CJ Spiller. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Steve Johnson
Prediction: It will come down to the Patriots and Jets. The Jets are a very streaky team so I am nervous to just give them the AFC East. I think the Patriots will end up taking it and the Jets will get in with the Wild Card.