I know you wish we would do an NFL preview radio show as we have in the past, but we're trying to focus our efforts into the blog right now. We do have a radio show in the works, though; it's an old gimmick with a new flavor, and we're looking forward to releasing it when the time is right.
For now, please enjoy our team-by-team breakdown of the NFC, starting with perhaps the most unpredictable division.
Dallas Cowboys (2008 Record: 9-7)
Key Additions: LB Keith Brooking, DE Igor Olshansky
Key Subtractions: WR Terrell Owens, CB Adam Jones, S Roy Williams
The loss of Owens is going to have a huge impact on this team. The question, though, is whether it's a positive or negative impact. My instinct is to say a negative impact, but who really knows? There's no question that, as the one true team sport, football demands a level of trust in your teammates, and Owens isn't exactly a model citizen.
I am a little perplexed at the offseason moves, though. Lose T.O., add two new starters to your front seven on defense? The Cowboys must be expecting a lot out of guys like Miles Austin, Patrick Crayton, and Martellus Bennett. It could work out, if the defense really improves, and if Tony Romo can be a star quarterback without his star wide receiver. Certainly Jason Witten and Roy Williams aren't slouches, and Marion Barber is surprisingly effective out of the backfield for a big running back. Still, Owens was their most dangerous receiver, and without replacing him, the pressure on everyone else is substantial.
Projected 2009 record: 6-10
New York Giants (12-4)
Key Additions: LB Michael Boley, WR Hakeem Nicks
Key Subtractions: RB Derrick Ward, WR Plaxico Burress, WR Amani Toomer, S James Butler,
Plaxico Burress may have shot himself in the leg, but his absence crippled an otherwise solid passing attack. The Giants drafted Hakeem Nicks in the first round, but the more logical replacements for Burress' production are Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith. No, the other Steve Smith. Eli Manning should thank his stars that Brandon Jacobs is back, and appears healthy.
Perhaps the most important "acquisition" will be the return of Osi Umenyiora, the Giants' premier defensive end. He and Justin Tuck are the bookends of one of the strongest defensive lines of the past decade. They're so good, they make an average secondary look exceptional. Unfortunately, the Giants will be relying on their defense more than previously, and I expect that, eventually, those corners will get exposed. Eventually like, this year.
Projected 2009 record: 8-8
Philadelphia Eagles (9-6-1) Key Additions: QB Michael Vick, WR Jeremy Maclin, RB LeSean McCoy
Key Subtractions: S Brian Dawkins, RB Correll Buckhalter
Regardless of personnel, there were two things you could count on from the Eagles for the past decade: they were going to throw the ball a lot, and they were going to blitz all the time. The passing of defensive coordinator Jim Johnson (rest in peace) obviously leaves a void in the hearts of veteran Eagles, but I have faith that we'll see the same aggressive play from Philly defenders this season as we've always seen. Dawkins' departure leaves a big hole in the middle of the defense, though, and it's up to second-year player Quintin Demps to fill it. Good luck, kid.
Offensively, the team looks even better than last year. DeSean Jackson is a year older and should be just as explosive. Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook remain the focal points of the offense, but Vick and McCoy give the Eagles more weapons. Anybody want to bet against the Eagles having the most plays of 50+ yards this season? They could be an awesome team to watch. Plus there's always the chance someone from PETA goes ape and jumps Vick coming out of the tunnel. So, multiple reasons to watch Eagles games this year.
Projected 2009 record: 12-4
Washington Redskins (8-8) Key Additions: DL Albert Haynesworth, LB Brian Orakpo
Key Subtractions: DB Shawn Springs, DE/LB Jason Taylor
The Redskins return their offense virtually 100% intact, which could be good, could be bad. Jason Campbell is in the last year of his contract, so he's playing for a contract. Santana Moss and Chris Cooley are two of the more consistent receivers in the conference, but someone else has to step up to take some heat off of them. I'm looking at you, second-year receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, and second-year tight end Fred Davis.
Haynesworth signed a $6 billion contract, so Washington fans are expecting a lot out of him. The secondary will suffer without Springs available to play all positions, but between Carlos Rogers and DeAngelo Hall, there's at least plenty of talent at cornerback. The 'Skins were 6th in the NFL in points allowed, but 28th in sacks. Increased pressure on opposing quarterbacks could turn Washington into a powerhouse defense. Hopefully Haynesworth's wallet doesn't weigh him down.
Projected 2009 record: 9-7
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