By Daniel Wallace
What do you get when you add two pro bowlers to an already ridiculously talented team?
A division championship and a serious run at the Super Bowl for the Eagles. The additions of cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugh and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will make opposing quarterbacks think twice about throwing the ball…anywhere.
Add that to the resurgence of Michael Vick and the explosiveness of DeSean Jackson, and they will be looking at more than just a division championship.
Then there are the Cowboys. You just never know what you are going to get out of these guys. Your guess is as good as mine.
However, as a die-hard fan, I’m optimistic. Rob Ryan will bring some much-needed toughness to the defense.
Overall, Tony Romo will have a solid bounce-back season and Felix Jones will show signs of brilliance as the Cowboys finish second.
The Giants will not be able to compete in this division until Eli Manning cuts down on the turnovers. Last year, he had 25 interceptions and five fumbles. You go as the quarterback goes.
Speaking of quarterbacks, there’s Rex Grossman and Jon Beck. Those are the Redskins quarterbacks. Shannahan’s club will improve from last season but with two sub-par quarterbacks, don’t expect much.
The defending Super Bowl champions ought to win this division fairly easily. The Pack brings back virtually the same team, and will benefit from running back Ryan Grant coming back from an injury-shortened season.
Mike Martz has had high praise for Jay Cutler and his new footwork. As a Cowboys fan, I suspect both Marion Barber and Roy Williams will flourish in Chicago. This will lead them to second place and in the hunt for the wild card race.
The Favre experiment is over in Minnesota, officially. In steps Donovan McNabb; he still has some gas left in the tank and will find his go-to guy to be Percy Harvin. In typical McNabb fashion, they will blow teams out one week and then look mediocre the next, to finish nowhere better than .500.
The Lions defense appears to be one that will stifle opponents and get after the quarterback this year. Matthew Stafford’s health remains a huge question, though — one large enough to put them in last place, a spot they are familiar with.
Welcome to the toughest division in football. It’s a tough call but ironically, I’m picking the team from the Big Easy.
Greg Williams’ blitz-happy defense will wreak havoc on opposing offenses and Drew Brees and Co. are sure to put up big numbers; they have proven they are capable of that week in and week out.
Tampa Bay is a strong team with a promising future. It has high hopes for quarterback Josh Freeman, who showed resiliency and great decision-making last year. Look for them to be in the wild card hunt as well.
Yes, that means I have the defending division champions falling to third in the division. The Falcons still have a solid, playoff worthy team, but will not benefit from having to play the Saints and the surging Buccaneers twice.
Carolina will improve statistically speaking, but the team does not have enough talent to seriously compete. It will be fun to see how the Cam Newton experience pans out, however.
Welcome to the worst division in football, or maybe even all of sports for that matter.
The Rams will win the division, as Sam Bradford will benefit from having a full season under his belt. They add new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and underrated wider receiver Mike Simms-Walker from the Jaguars. The advantage they have here is that they get to play everyone in their division twice.
The 49ers are still in a re-building mode; they have a first-year head coach fresh out of college and somehow still have faith that Alex Smith is the answer under center. He’s not. Move on.
The Seahawks won this division last year with a losing record. They will stay true to their losing record, but don’t expect them to win the division. Last year, they were nothing more than mediocre on both sides of the ball, and they lost former Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
The Cardinals will round out the little league division. New quarterback Kevin Kolb will provide sparks of energy and confidence but that won’t make up for the lack of adequate talent needed to play with the big dogs.
The Cowboys have glaring holes on defense, mainly the secondary. However, the Cowboys have enough offensive weapons to win enough games for a wild card spot. Last season was simply a disaster, but they showed signs of life in the second half of the season.
The Buccaneers finished 10-6 last season and missed the playoffs. Normally, 10 wins gets you in. That omission is due to the caliber of their division, but they proved they could compete with the Falcons and Saints. Look for Josh Freeman to establish himself as a consistent, smart and reliable quarterback, and Tampa to sneak into the playoffs.
AFC Championship Game: Patriots over Steelers
NFC Championship Game: Eagles over Packers
Super Bowl XLI: Patriots over Eagles