NFL 2013: NFC East Preview
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WASHINGTON REDSKINS (10-7)
NEW FACES: S Bacarri Rambo, CB David Amerson, TE Jordan Reed, CB E.J. Biggers.
KEY LOSSES: LB Lorenzo Alexander.
STRENGTHS: QB, RB, WR.
EXPECTATIONS: QB Robert Griffin III revitalized franchise, helping produce first NFC East title in 13 years. He has potential to revolutionize league with running and passing abilities, but missed all or part of four games last year because of injuries and had reconstructive knee surgery in January. If healthy, Redskins are must-watch team. Griffin isn’t afraid to speak his mind, even when he disagrees with coach Mike Shanahan, and power play between two is worth watching. Defense ranked 30th vs. pass last season, and hope for improvement lies with rookies Rambo and Amerson and return of S Brandon Meriweather from knee surgery. If Griffin’s knee holds up and secondary comes around, Redskins should return to playoffs with room to spare.
NEW YORK GIANTS (9-7)
NEW FACES: OT Justin Pugh, TE Brandon Myers, PK Josh Brown, DE Damontre Moore, LB Dan Connor, DL Cullen Jenkins, S Ryan Mundy, CB Aaron Ross, DT Johnathan Hankins.
KEY LOSSES: RB Ahmad Bradshaw, MLB Chase Blackburn, LB Michael Boley, DT Chris Canty, S Kenny Phillips, TE Martellus Bennett, PK Lawrence Tynes.
STRENGTHS: QB, WR.
WEAKNESSES: LB, OL.
EXPECTATIONS: Another second-half swoon saw Giants miss playoffs for third time in four years. This year, there are questions about O and D lines, linebackers and, suddenly, safety with loss of Stevie Brown to knee injury. If everything comes together, Giants may have chance to play Super Bowl in their backyard. That’s asking a lot from all-or-nothing team, probably too much. NFC champion will use Giants’ facility to train for Super Bowl. That likely won’t be Giants.
DALLAS COWBOYS (8-8)
NEW FACES: S Will Allen, LB Justin Durant, TE Gavin Escobar, C Travis Frederick, DT Nick Hayden, LB DeVonte Holloman, RB Joseph Randle, TE Dante Rosario, CB B.W. Webb, S J.J. Wilcox, WR Terrance Williams.
KEY LOSSES: RB Felix Jones, WR Kevin Ogletree, S Gerald Sensabaugh, DT Marcus Spears.
STRENGTHS: QB, TE, LB.
WEAKNESSES: OL, S.
EXPECTATIONS: Coach Jason Garrett’s job could depend on Dallas ending three-year playoff drought. QB Tony Romo got richest contract in franchise history and needs to back it up with first extended postseason run of career. Big concern is uncertainty at guard after injury-plagued training camp that followed subpar 2012 season for free agent pickups Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings. Romo has some good weapons if RB DeMarco Murray and WR Miles Austin stay healthy as complements for WR Dez Bryant. And there’s reliable TE Jason Witten. Retooled defense needs big plays from DE DeMarcus Ware and LBs Sean Lee and Bruce Carter. Safety looks shaky with unproven Barry Church and 10-year vet Will Allen, who has been full-time starter once (2006) in career.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (4-12)
NEW FACES: QB Matt Barkley, QB Dennis Dixon, TE Zach Ertz, RT Lane Johnson, NT Isaac Sopoaga, DT Bennie Logan, LB Connor Barwin, CB Cary Williams, CB Bradley Fletcher, FS Patrick Chung, SS Earl Wolff, P Donnie Jones.
KEY LOSSES: WR Jeremy Maclin, WR Arrelious Benn, LB Jason Phillips, CB Nnamdi Asomugha, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DT Cullen Jenkins, DT Mike Patterson.
STRENGTHS: RB, QB, OL, DL.
WEAKNESSES: WR, DB, LB.
EXPECTATIONS: New coach Chip Kelly injected new life and new philosophy into franchise stuck doing things same way for too long under Andy Reid. Playoffs a long shot but offense should be exciting. Playmakers LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Mike Vick can thrive in Kelly’s system. Defense has to find way to keep team in games. Switch to new 3-4 alignment could take time.
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