Tuesday, December 2, 2008

NFC East - reevaluation

Coming into the season, virtually every expert analyst, preseason forecast and prognostication had the Cowboys as the designee to come out of the NFC and to win the Superbowl. They were so much better than everyone that they were going to win the Superbowl - not just get there. Giants were ranked 3rd in the NFC East by most experts and were ranked last by a few. When the Giants started winning a few games at the beginning of the year, they were elevated somewhat, but they were still not considered the best team in the NFC East. One week it was Dallas, then it was Philadelphia, then it was the Redskins that were each the class of the East and the best team in football. For the last several weeks, most of the experts are grudgingly admitting that the Giants really are the best in the East, but there are still many who give the crown to Dallas and say that the Cowboys are behind only because Romo missed 3 games, 2 of which they lost.

Experts also have been saying that the NFC East is the best division in football and I would like to take another look at this, because I am not so sure. After watching the Giants beat the Redskins twice quite convincingly, and seeing the Redskins paucity of offensive weapons and their incredibly mediocre qb, I don't know how anybody can consider them one of the elite teams in the league. They are 7-5 for a reason; that is a fairly mediocre record and they are a mediocre team. They have a very good defense and very good db-field, but an offense that doesn't scare anybody.

The Eagles have been exposed as another mediocre team over the last several weeks. Their defense is very overrated and their defensive coach is WAAAAAY overrated. Johnson has one tool in his toolbox of defensive schemes - blitz. Everyone said that DC Spagnuolo would install the same aggressive blitz-oriented defense in NY that he learned while coaching under Johnson in Phillly. He borrowed some principals from Johnson, but look how much more varied the Giants defense is than the Eagles. Giants are not afraid to blitz and come with varied and creative blitz packages. But Giants blitz much more selectively, which makes it less predictable and more effective. The Eagles have one great offensive player in Westbrook and even he is not an unstoppable force. McNabb is a much better qb than Campbell, but I still would not put him up there as one of the elite qbs in the league. As such, at 6-5-1, the Eagles are probably right about where they deserve to be. The Eagles team statistics seem a little misleading, because when they win, they win by huge scores, and when they lose, they lose very close games. That's a little hard to figure out. I am somewhat surprised that the Giants are 8 point favorites over the Eagles this Sunday. I would have guessed it would be less than a TD, maybe 5 1/2 points, like it was against the Redskins.

Cowboys, on the other hand, have very good personnel and can line up with anyone in the league. They have some weaknesses, IMO. Their OL is massive but not quick and can be beaten by an athletic, talented DL and a defense that blitzes from different angles which requires a nimble OL adept at switching and moving around. The Cowboys other weakness is their secondary, which is vulnerable to the passing game. The Cowboys have excellent players in their front 7, but their pass defense is predicated on getting to the qb before he can throw. If you can block them at the line of scrimmage, I think you can make plays against them in the passing game. But - they do have a lot of talent on the team especially on the offensive side of the ball. The game between the Giants and Cowboys in Dallas in two weeks will be very interesting. If the Cowboys lose to the Steelers this week and the Falcons win, then the Giants can just about knock the Cowboys out of the playoffs if they beat them.

7 comments:

Yankel the Nachash said...

If Gmen lose one of their next two games and Carolina wins both games, then Gmen-Carolina game is for home field through the playoffs.
I agree with your NFC East assessment--Skins and Eagles look very mediocre. I wonder if Carolina and Tampa are legit? I haven't seen either team play this year. My last Tampa experience was last year's playoff beatdown. I do have bad memories of John Fox and Carolina beating us in a big game--did they beat us in the regular season and playoffs one year? Or the last game of the season? Wolfman, help me out!

wolfman said...

Yankel,

Carolina and Tampa are legit, and a re good teams, but I don't think they are great. I always thought Delhomme was a tad overrated as a qb, but that NFC South looks like a good division so you have take them seriously.

Tampa is playing well defensively and Garcia is scary to me - he beat us twice in the playoffs, as you remember - with the Eagles 2 yrs ago and with the 49ers in that fumbled-snap wildcard game in 2001.

Carolina beat us 3 years ago, Eli's first playoff appearnace, 23-0. It was the year we won the division, going 11-5, but had horrible defensive injuries towards the end of the year and had no legitmate NFL caliber LB's playing for us. Really - we signed a guy that we had cut the year before and was out of football that whole year just because we needed warm bodies. We got absolutely smoked in that game.

wm

Yankel the Nachash said...

I'm still scared to death of Garcia.
Now I remember the Carolina game--didn't we sign Blackburn off the practice squad and then he got hurt too? And to think, I completely forgot about Michael Barrow.

Yankel the Nachash said...

Sorry about the confusion--Barrow wasn't on that team, but I'm glad I remembered him anyway. Pierce was there already and got hurt. Emmons was a big time scrub. Blackburn returneda pick for a touchdown then got hurt for season and we resigned Kevin Lewis, who we cut...

wolfman said...

Yankel:

Wow! I'm really impressed with the giants trivia you know. Kevin Lewis - that's the guy they signed off the street. They also took another LB who had not played a down on defense all year, but was just a special teams player and had to move him into the starting lineup. They also had injuries in the db-field and had to sign an old, slow CB (can't remember his name). The idiot DC Tim Lewis, matched this guy up all day on Steve Smith and he couldn't handle him. That was the "we were outcoached" game by Tiki. I hate to say it - but he was at least partly right. However we were so undermanned that day that Parcells, Lombardi and Shula couldn't have won that game for us.

Barrow was on the 2000 Kerry Collins led team that went to the Superbowl and got crushed by the Ravens.

NFL trivia question: Can you name a father-son combination that both won Superbowls?

Yankel the Nachash said...

Alter Cocker = Terrell Buckley (I think)
Father/Son = Deossie?

wolfman said...

Yankel - you're really impressing me. Terrel Buckley is the name I couldn't come up with and the DeOssies are the father/son pair. Not only did they both win SB rings, but they won them for the same franchise - your New York Football Giants.

-wm