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NFC East Season Preview: Overview, Analysis, Predictions For 2012 Season

A team-by-team look at the NFC East with predictions, video and analysis

Can Eli Manning and the Giants give their fans another Super Bowl title to celebrate? (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Can Eli Manning and the Giants give their fans another Super Bowl title to celebrate? (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Getty Images


New York Giants

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.

-- ESPN Giants preview
-- SI's Peter King on the Giants
-- on the Giants

Giants Schedule

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

Dallas Cowboys

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?

-- ESPN Cowboys preview
-- SI's Peter King on the Cowboys
-- on the Cowboys

Philadelphia Eagles

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.

-- ESPN Eagles preview
-- SI's Peter King on the Eagles
-- on the Eagles

Washington Redskins

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.

-- ESPN Redskins preview
--'s Peter King on the Redskins
-- on the Redskins

Predicted Order Of Finish

  1. Giants
  2. Eagles
  3. Cowboys
  4. Redskins

NFC East Preview: Defending Champion Giants Ready for Another Dogfight with Divisional Rivals (via sbnation)