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Old 08-10-2009, 10:34 AM    (permalink
Geo
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Default 2009 Outlook

No ten predictions this year, plus no one wants to read a book. I've been sitting on these picks for over a month actually, but bouts of busyness and laziness prevented me from posting this sooner.

Want to do this out before getting the new Football Outsiders book (still haven't got it yet) and the preseason (oh well). Anyways, here goes, new teams from last year are denoted with an asterisk.



AFC

North - Pittsburgh Steelers
East - New England Patriots*
South - Indianapolis Colts
West - San Diego Chargers

Wild card - Baltimore Ravens
Wild card - Houston Texans*


Tennessee could very well be one of those wild card teams instead, but my basis for not having them is Kerry Collins has shown multiple times/years in his career to not play as well after a good year, and the defense wasn't as good last year as it was the previous year per some metrics, so that's a trend I won't go against now that they don't have Haynesworth. Not the only #1 seed from last year I piss off, keep reading.

One ballsy pick I like is Cincinnati, actually. Baltimore should take advantage of an easy schedule but Cincy is in the same division and if the ball breaks their way, it could be them instead. The Bengals have built what could be a good-looking defense under Mike Zimmer, although they still might not be as potent against the pass as versus the run. They have those two corners in Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall though. A healthy Carson Palmer has them competing against anyone, look a the game last year at Giants stadium (granted the absurd winds helped). But they need the OL to be strong again, if they had signed Andre Smith in time I probably would have picked them.

Houston, I think their defense continues to improve even if it's only marginally, and maybe this year Schaub might actually stay healthy. Interesting tidbit: Schaub has only played the Colts one time in his two previous years in Houston. The other three times had Sage Rosenfels, who didn't do such a bad job.


NFC

North - Green Bay Packers*
East - Dallas Cowboys*
South - New Orleans Saints*
West - Seattle Seahawks*

Wild card - Philadelphia Eagles
Wild card - Minnesota Vikings


Here's where the fun really starts, I guess. All new division winners from last year. In order:

The Packers, for as much as the drastic change in defense would leave me leery, they often struggled between big plays (usually in the form of interceptions) last year so there could nonetheless be slight/significant improvement. Which, with their very potent offense, they will win most of the games they should have won last year, and thus return to the playoffs.

The Eagles/Cowboys is the one pick I've changed from then to now. Because of the loss of Jim Johnson and Stewart Bradley, but Donovan McNabb should still lead the team to a wild card spot. I think the Cowboys are going back to the playoffs on the two things: (1) a strong running game with Barber and Felix; and (2) good defense all under the control of Wade Phillips. Romo will occassionally make a play through the air or with his feet, but it's the running game and defense that lead them back imo. And watch out for them in the Tournament.

Obviously didn't like Carolina's chances and they've suffered some notable injuries since then. But if their OL stays healthy (we'll see how things go at this point), their dynamic power game could keep them in the thick of the hunt.

Atlanta though, I don't like going back to the playoffs, because I foresee their defense (with all of the new starters) struggling a great deal. The offense will have to win blowouts, and there is the chance of that with all of the talent they have. Don't believe Burner Turner will be as productive as last year however, they have a much tougher schedule this year. Matt Ryan reminds me of a young Peyton Manning though, which is so promising for the Falcons and their fans.

Hey, keep picking New Orleans every year, one year I'll be right. Guilty as charged I suppose. Brees is the best pure passer in the game right now and I think we see Colston have a big year and Shockey have his best season in the last few years too, plus all the great complementary weapons in Bush/Moore/Meachem/Henderson. Moving on from Duece to Pierre Thomas was overdue. They've added serious talent at corner the last 16 months: Tracy Porter, Jabari Greer, Malcolm Jenkins, and Randall ***.

Actually I wanted to pick St. Louis for the West, but couldn't pull the trigger. Do not overlook them, they have pieces in place and just needs things to go right for them. And I'm not bullish about Seattle because Walter Jones is too much of a critical concern, he still has yet to practice - for all of their other talent, that could be the breaking point. Maybe Locklear gets the job done though, so I bench the brass balls and pick Seattle.

Last wild card spot comes down to Minnesota and the Giants, I think. And they play each other in Week 17, wow! In Minnesota though. Although Eli might be better off passing indoors than Giants Stadium that time of year, the Vikes play better defense at home. I expect the shitstorm for not picking the Giants, but here's my thinking:
  • Their offensive line has been very healthy the last two years, and as it's cyclical, expect the likelihood of injuries now. I saw this firsthand as a Colts fan the last two years. And the Giants don't have anything close to high quality depth at OL.
  • They have talent at wide receiver, but they are so green. Inexperienced. Plus teams won't have to double anyone at all, not even consider it in the least. (Watch out though after this year.)
  • No respect for the passing game + potential injuries to the OL that has played together for so many games = decreased effectiveness of the running game. Many more 8-man boxes. More chances for Jacobs to get hurt, even.
  • The Giants can easily replace Derrick Ward the runner, but I don't think they will replace Derrick Ward the third down back as well. They need someone to step up in a big way and pass protect and run routes as well as he did. I doubt they will fully.
  • So the offense will be one major struggle. Can the defense pick up all of the slack? The DL (if healthy) is stacked, which is big. But they lost their mastemind in Steve Spagnuolo, and I think that ultimately hurts. Even if it means that carry only part of the slack.

Six new teams in the playoffs. Okay, blast away.

I guess I'll add some predictions:
Super Bowl XLIV - Colts over Cowboys in Miami, just like Super Bowl V

MVP & Offensive Player of the Year - Drew Brees
Defensive Player of the Year - Jared Allen
Comeback Player of the Year - Tom Brady (not Matt Hasselbeck you idiot)

PS. Sorry for the book.
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:43 AM    (permalink
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great writeup on the pack. also: jordy nelson
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:44 AM    (permalink
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I'm surprised more people aren't picking the Packers.
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:48 AM    (permalink
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what excites me the most is that we now have a defensive coordinator who is actually capable of his job. bob sanders was totally unable of running a to-minute drill, make in-game adjustments etc
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:48 AM    (permalink
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I'm surprised more people aren't picking the Packers.
I like it that way. Last time = NFC Championship game
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Old 08-10-2009, 11:19 AM    (permalink
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The Packers lost seven games by an average of 3 points last year, something like that. If we turn one touchdown into a field goal in those games, we would have won 5 and sent 2 to overtime. I'm pretty optimistic our luck will be much better this year with Capers running the defense.
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Old 08-10-2009, 11:29 AM    (permalink
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I feel that unless he gets hurt again or doesn't bring the Patriots to the playoffs then no matter how well he plays Brady will be comeback player of the year.

Pretty ballsy to leave out the Giants and to include the Cowboys. Plus to have them going to the Superbowl, however if they get there and can somehow get over the hump and win a playoff game they could very well get there.
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Old 08-10-2009, 11:29 AM    (permalink
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Homer.

Even if it's a pack of average, I don't see the Rams emerging in the NFC West. I know you didn't ultimately have them doing it either, but I'll look to Seattle and Arizona before them.

I pretty much agree with your AFC ideas. There's not too many other ways I'd like to go, even if I'd like to find a different team to take that last wild card. I lean to Tennessee, though. Disgusting lack of turnover on my part.

NFC East is so fun to think about. I like all four teams this year. when I started writing this post I was ready to agree with you, but now I'm fighting myself on it. I certainly like Dallas a lot, I can agree there. I buy them as a good bet for January.
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Old 08-10-2009, 11:45 AM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by AntoinCD View Post
I feel that unless he gets hurt again or doesn't bring the Patriots to the playoffs then no matter how well he plays Brady will be comeback player of the year.

Pretty ballsy to leave out the Giants and to include the Cowboys. Plus to have them going to the Superbowl, however if they get there and can somehow get over the hump and win a playoff game they could very well get there.
Wow, a serious D'oh moment if there ever was one. No, more like

D'oh

I'll edit the pick to Brady. I was thinking off the top of my head, and somehow forgot the Golden Boy.

As for the Cowboys, I kind of think they match up well in that scenario. Even moreso if they can avoid Philly, but the Giants match-up better because of their pass rush. New Orleans gets in but probably with a slightly worse record, which means that potential game would be played in Dallas.
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Old 08-10-2009, 11:53 AM    (permalink
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I do like the pack out of the nfc
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Coples is that dude.
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Old 08-10-2009, 11:53 AM    (permalink
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Homer.

Even if it's a pack of average, I don't see the Rams emerging in the NFC West. I know you didn't ultimately have them doing it either, but I'll look to Seattle and Arizona before them.

I pretty much agree with your AFC ideas. There's not too many other ways I'd like to go, even if I'd like to find a different team to take that last wild card. I lean to Tennessee, though. Disgusting lack of turnover on my part.

NFC East is so fun to think about. I like all four teams this year. when I started writing this post I was ready to agree with you, but now I'm fighting myself on it. I certainly like Dallas a lot, I can agree there. I buy them as a good bet for January.
Yeah, I can't argue against the homer accusation. Although I think we see a much better Colts defense this year thanks to Larry Coyer. Tony Dungy did a great job in building the Colts into a consistent regular season winner, he put the train on the tracks so to speak, but he took them as far as he could imo.

The key for the Colts is not having to play in Foxboro in January, good luck to anyone trying to beat Belichick at home then. San Diego looks loaded, but playing in San Diego isn't as tough because the Colts always keep it close against them and there should be much better weather in that scenario.

Dallas, again, a strong running game and the Wade Phillips-run defense is what I think gets it all done. I am not a believer in Roy Williams as a #1 receiver, I wouldn't be surprised if Patrick Crayton turns out to be their best wide receiver. But Romo will hit those guys occassionally as well as the talented RBs and TEs, who will be the real key in their passing game. Romo to his BFF Witten.
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Old 08-10-2009, 12:11 PM    (permalink
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Quote:
* Their offensive line has been very healthy the last two years, and as it's cyclical, expect the likelihood of injuries now. I saw this firsthand as a Colts fan the last two years. And the Giants don't have anything close to high quality depth at OL.
* They have talent at wide receiver, but they are so green. Inexperienced. Plus teams won't have to double anyone at all, not even consider it in the least. (Watch out though after this year.)
* No respect for the passing game + potential injuries to the OL that has played together for so many games = decreased effectiveness of the running game. Many more 8-man boxes. More chances for Jacobs to get hurt, even.
* The Giants can easily replace Derrick Ward the runner, but I don't think they will replace Derrick Ward the third down back as well. They need someone to step up in a big way and pass protect and run routes as well as he did. I doubt they will fully.
* So the offense will be one major struggle. Can the defense pick up all of the slack? The DL (if healthy) is stacked, which is big. But they lost their mastemind in Steve Spagnuolo, and I think that ultimately hurts. Even if it means that carry only part of the slack.

We have our young guys who been in the system and need to step up. I wouldn't call it veteran quality, but we have guys that we groomed. But with the salary cap system in place, we can't get depth at every position. I'd rather win games with defense, and stack that depth then OL, especially since we drafted that depth and groomed them. But I can see the point, non the less.

WRs: Yeah we have a lot of different guys right now. Hixon, Smith, Moss, Nicks, Barden, and Manningham. We also drafted Beckum who will be our H back player. So while we don't have experienced WRs, we will probably do what we normally do. Run the football, rack up a huge TOP, and throw short and intermediate routes. Now, the X factor is how we readjusted our passing attack. I think it will be totally revamped to fit the existing WRs. Hence the drafting of Beckum. So the passing scheme will be interesting for us giants fans as well. I expect a lot of different concepts this year.

As for the 8 man boxes.. let them.. Teams only bring 8 men in the box only on certain down and distances. Not's more of a big deal for fans than it is for people in the game. You can easily vertically and horizontally stretch the 8th guy. Not to mention if you do that it means you are giving me a single high safety. So you better pray to god your blitz gets there OR your FS is a stud. If not, he is going to get High/lowed and owned. One example of this is the NCAA concept used for a single high safety coverage.

RBs.. Our Backs as of now are Jacobs, Bradshaw, Ware, and Brown.. I am happy with these guys. Ward was a plug and play guy, and I think Bradshaw has a much better skill set than Ward. Plus now Bradshaw has been in the system, so I expect a lot from him.

Defense:

We lost Spags, but we don't have to hire someone from the outside. We promoted within this system, and Bill S. is going to keep the same system, but add wrinkles to it. For instance, we won't fire zone as much as we did with spags. Bill S. is a creative guy and has implemented a 5-1-5 look which will use once and while.

OSI-Alford-Tuck-Cofield-Kiwi

Plus if you are going to say that, then be fair and consider the same for the Eagles.. They lost Dawkins, who was a pillar in that system, they lost a legend, and they lost their Mike backer. Can they over come it? Sure.. but if the same stuff is going to be said for our team, then it's only fair to consider these issues with others as well.


Overall good job with the overview. Just wanted to provide some counter points to some of the things you mentioned. You mention valid concerns, but upon further analysis there is more going on. I guess it's a wait and see for our team.
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Old 08-10-2009, 12:20 PM    (permalink
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For instance, we won't fire zone as much as we did with spags. Bill S. is a creative guy and has implemented a 5-1-5 look which will use once and while.

OSI-Alford-Tuck-Cofield-Kiwi

Plus if you are going to say that, then be fair and consider the same for the Eagles.. They lost Dawkins, who was a pillar in that system, they lost a legend, and they lost their Mike backer. Can they over come it? Sure.. but if the same stuff is going to be said for our team, then it's only fair to consider these issues with others as well.


Overall good job with the overview. Just wanted to provide some counter points to some of the things you mentioned. You mention valid concerns, but upon further analysis there is more going on. I guess it's a wait and see for our team.
My argument against the Giants is definitely riddled with speculation, I would readily admit. Also I admit that I went back and forth on picking the Giants to make the playoffs anyways, but kind of went with the ballsy pick there. Saying both #1 seeds don't make the playoff next year, what the hey.

(Plus I do think Sage Rosenfels is an upgrade at QB for the Vikes, just not one to win a SB.)

The likelihood of injury to the OL is just that, chance/probability. If they continue to stay healthy like they have for the 40 or so games previous, the Giants offense should do well. I could be easily underestimating both the wide receivers and Sheridan. Re: the latter, a lot of the defensive stuff you mentioned there sounds very cool, in fact.

I like the Giants, so I certainly wouldn't mind being wrong. But that's kind of the conclusion I reached, thinking about it over the summer. But also, as I touched on, I think the Giants could afterwards be scary good as their receivers develop with Eli.
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Old 08-10-2009, 12:28 PM    (permalink
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My argument against the Giants is definitely riddled with speculation, I would readily admit. Also I admit that I went back and forth on picking the Giants to make the playoffs anyways, but kind of went with the ballsy pick there. Saying both #1 seeds don't make the playoff next year, what the hey.

(Plus I do think Sage Rosenfels is an upgrade at QB for the Vikes, just not one to win a SB.)

The likelihood of injury to the OL is just that, chance/probability. If they continue to stay healthy like they have for the 40 or so games previous, the Giants offense should do well. I could be easily underestimating both the wide receivers and Sheridan. Re: the latter, a lot of the defensive stuff you mentioned there sounds very cool, in fact.

I like the Giants, so I certainly wouldn't mind being wrong. But that's kind of the conclusion I reached, thinking about it over the summer. But also, as I touched on, I think the Giants could afterwards be scary good as their receivers develop with Eli.

True, but on the other hand, they are valid opinions. We very well can kick the bucket this year. But I think our GM and Coughlin proved that this is not the Accorsi-Fassel years, where it was like a roller coaster ride, in terms of overall season record. So I tend to side and welcome our stability as a franchise. But non the less, this is the NFL, so we could fall apart too.

Yeah we have been working on getting 3 DEs, Osi, Tuck, and Kiwi on the DL. So instead of going 3 DEs. We have a 5-1-5. I am guessing Cofield and Canty will switch too.. Basically have Tuck and Canty obliterate the inside pocket, and Kiwi and Osi meet at the QB. Coughlin and Sheridan were quoted to say, there is a lot more in the works, but obviously didn't specify.

But we will see, That's where you trust your coaching staff and GM to provide you with depth and stability to a franchise. Hopefully we can continue to make the playoffs yet again,and win our division. Just like other teams we have question marks too though.
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Old 08-10-2009, 01:35 PM    (permalink
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I don't mind anyone picking against the Giants but to do so in such a speculative manner makes me wonder why. When you make predicitons you have to do so based on the players you know are going to be on the field.
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Old 08-10-2009, 01:49 PM    (permalink
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The Giants fans on this board seem very testy. The 5-1-5 rumor is crazy, it may or may not work but gimmicky offenses don't have staying power and gimmicky defenses well they are for Pop Warner leagues.
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:00 PM    (permalink
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The Giants fans on this board seem very testy. The 5-1-5 rumor is crazy, it may or may not work but gimmicky offenses don't have staying power and gimmicky defenses well they are for Pop Warner leagues.
It's not like this will be our base defense. It will just be something we throw out there on 2nd or 3rd and long to keep offenses honest. If an offense has to gameplan around something like that it helps. I don't think any Giants fans really think this is going to be the next big craze in the NFL. If we even use it during the regular season we'll see it up to 5 times tops per game and maybe even less.
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:17 PM    (permalink
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I don't mind anyone picking against the Giants but to do so in such a speculative manner makes me wonder why. When you make predicitons you have to do so based on the players you know are going to be on the field.
Well ...

We know that proven #1 receiver and playmaker Plaxico Burress won't be on the field, and the passing offense struggled mightily without him last season. He and Eli connected for the most TDs of any QB-WR duo from 2005 to mid-2008.

We know that Derrick Ward won't be on the field, and although not a special runner he did good work as a back involved in the passing game.

We know that Brandon Jacobs has yet to start for more than 13 games or rush more than 219 attempts in a season.

We know the Giants had very talented players before Steve Spagnuolo but weren't as effective in using them to play great defense as a unit.

We know that the Cowboys, suffering some injuries and a disappointing offense, went from winning the division with a 13-3 record in 2007 to missing the playoffs at 9-7 in 2008. The Giants were 12-4 in 08.
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:20 PM    (permalink
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That's all perfectly fine Geo. I was just talking about how you predicted injuries to the Giants O-Line simply because they didn't really get hurt last year. Besides that those are all valid concerns that you have right now though. We'll get a better understanding of how everything looks 2 or 3 weeks from now.
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:23 PM    (permalink
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That's all perfectly fine Geo. I was just talking about how you predicted injuries to the Giants O-Line simply because they didn't really get hurt last year.
I don't know the exact number, wish I did, but the Giants' offensive line has started for 40 or so consecutive games. That might be including playoff games, I don't know.

Anyway that is fantastic because of the familiarity and synergy it builds, the same guys playing together as a unit.

Because the odds are that luck will eventually swing the opposite way.

Like I said, I saw it myself as a Colts fan, after 2005 and 2006, the Colts' offensive line was hit hard by injury in 2007 and especially in 2008. Now I'm hoping it can swing back the other way.

You remember how it used to be when Petitgout and other guys would get injured and miss time. The current Giants group has gotten a little older and injury could creep in.
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:28 PM    (permalink
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Nice report! As I was questioning Seattle over St. Louis, San Fran and Arizona, I seen the St. Louis spec of information, and I'm with you. We're going to turn a lot of heads!

Great report!
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:30 PM    (permalink
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Steven Jackson is going to beast this year, please believe.
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:33 PM    (permalink
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Oh definitely. What people need to remember is that back in '06, behind a BAD offensive line, he almost broke the record for most total yards in a season with something like 2,350yds.

This year, we have added a young Pro Bowl calibur Center (Jason Brown, an All Pro Fullback (Mike Karney), a great blocking specialist tight end (Billy Bajema), drafted a young, great and potential filled Tackle, who excels in run blocking (Jason Smith). Also, reports are that Richie Incognito is playing at an ALL PRO level in training camp, and he's always been very good at run blocking. Alex Barron, more of a run blocker is moved to the Left Side, and we have Jacob Bell, who once was very good, and just needs to play that way.

Jackson could have a HUGE year, possibly record breaking.

Either way, I'm very excited!
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:49 PM    (permalink
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There's actually a lot of pieces in place on defense for Spagnuolo to use.

The ballhawk in Otogwe. Cover corner in Bartell, the bigger outside corner in Fletcher, and some speedier corners in Hill and the kid from Tennessee they drafted two years ago to play the slot. Justin King.

Linebackers are good, they've got a experienced veteran in Witherspoon back at WLB. Laurinaitis will likely start at MLB, obviously they like a lot of what he brings to their defense to draft him at the top of Round 2. He'll give Spags MLB coverage he never had in NY.

Obviously they need at least one more pass rusher. They've got a young price already in Chris Long though.
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:56 PM    (permalink
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-I don't agree with your Cowboys prediction, but I'll give you credit. It's ballsy.

-For the Eagles, it does suck that they lost Stewart Bradley, but Omar Gaither was statistically equal or even a smidge better the year before at MLB. In Philly's scheme, the linebackers only need to be adequate. The superstars are the DL and DBs.

- For the Giants, I'm on the fence. Their defense and running game should both be excellent, yet again. However, as everyone knows, I'm an Eli doubter/hater. I want to see him produce without Plaxico before I crown the Giants as the kings of the NFC East.

My NFC East picks.

1. Philadelphia
1A. New York (Flip a coin between these two. I change my mind daily.)
3. Dallas (Potential to be great, potential to suck big wangs)
4. Washington

- I also agree with the Packers winning the division.
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