Can Eli Manning and the Giants give their fans another Super Bowl title to celebrate? (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
A team-by-team look at the NFC East with predictions, video and analysis
2011: 9-7 (First in NFC East)
Super Bowl champions
The defending Super Bowl champions kick off the NFL season on Wednesday night against the Dallas Cowboys. The last time the Giants were in this position, defending a title, was in 2008. What happened? The Giants raced out to an 11-1 start, looked like a team with a chance to win historic back-to-back titles, then Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg and pretty much took a bullet to the Giants' season. New York finished 12-4 and lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the playoffs.
Coach Tom Coughlin had made 'Build The Bridge' this year's theme for the Giants, meaning he wants to seem them connect last season's 6-0 run to a title at the end of the season to this year.
How do they do that?
On offense, the Giants will rely on the right arm of two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, coming off a career-best 4.933-yard passing season. He still has wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz to throw to, as well as new tight end in Martellus Bennett. Third receiver Mario Manningham is in San Francisco, but the Giants drafted Reuben Randle in the second round.
The Giants will hope to improve last season's league-worst rushing attack, and have replaced the lumbering big man Brandon Jacobs with the lightning fast first-round pick David Wilson to complement Ahmad Bradshaw.
Defensively, the Giants will rely on their vaunted pass rush with defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora leading the way. The pressure will be on second-year man Prince Amukamara, the 2011 first-round draft pick who steps into a starting role at cornerback after a disappointing and injury-plagued rookie season.
|Dallas||Wed 09/05||8:30 PM EDT|
|Tampa Bay||Sun 09/16||1:00 PM EDT|
|@ Carolina||Thu 09/20||8:20 PM EDT|
|@ Philadelphia||Sun 09/30||8:20 PM EDT|
|Cleveland||Sun 10/07||1:00 PM EDT|
|@ San Francisco||Sun 10/14||4:25 PM EDT|
|Washington||Sun 10/21||1:00 PM EDT|
|@ Dallas||Sun 10/28||4:25 PM EDT|
|Pittsburgh||Sun 11/04||4:25 PM EST|
|@ Cincinnati||Sun 11/11||1:00 PM EST|
|Green Bay||Sun 11/25||8:20 PM EST|
|@ Washington||Mon 12/03||8:30 PM EST|
|New Orleans||Sun 12/09||4:25 PM EST|
|@ Atlanta||Sun 12/16||1:00 PM EST|
|@ Baltimore||Sun 12/23||1:00 PM EST|
|Philadelphia||Sun 12/30||1:00 PM EST|
2011: 8-9 (Third in NFC East)
Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones has spent the offseason talking about how the team's window to win a Super Bowl is closing and promising fans the team will "beat the Giants asses" this season.
Well, to win that Super Bowl the Cowboys will have to get through the defending champion Giants. Can they do that?
It is hard to know what to make of the Cowboys. There is a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. But, can wide receiver Dez Bryant stay out of trouble? Is Jason Garrett a big-time head coach who can lead the Cowboys to the promised land? Can first-round pick Morris Claiborne and free-agent acquisition Brandon Carr help a sieve-like secondary?
Mostly, though, the question is can Tony Romo make the plays that matter most in the games and at the moments that matter most? Somehow, Romo and the Cowboys have managed to come up short in recent years when it was crunch time at the end of the season. That has to change for Dallas, and the biggest question is an easy one to ask: Can it?
2011: 8-8 (Second in NFC East)
The Dream Team disappointed a season ago, missing the playoffs. The Eagles are back for another try, and might well have the most talented team in not only the division, but the entire NFC.
Linebacker DeMeco Ryans and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox have been added to shore up the weak middle of the Philadelphia defense. On offense, the Eagles still have quarterback Michael Vick, running back LeSean McCoy and wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.
This is a team with a ton of ability. It is also a team that is holding its breath and praying that the oft-injured Vick stays on the field. They don't get where they want to go without him.
2011: 5-11 (Fourth in NFC East)
With first-round pick Robert Griffin III at quarterback, this is a new beginning for the Redskins, who have been the NFC East doormats in recent years.
Better days are ahead for the Redskins, but how much better are they right now than they were a season ago?
The Redskins have a good defense with Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and London Fletcher. How quickly can their offense improve? RG3 makes them more dangerous, but does he have enough weapons? And does he have an offensive line that won't have him running for his life? The answer to those questions is, not yet.
Predicted Order Of Finish
NFC East Preview: Defending Champion Giants Ready for Another Dogfight with Divisional Rivals (via sbnation)