NFL Preview: NY Giants Top Our NFC East Predictions

1. New York Giants
2011 RECORD: 9–7
The Giants are coming off a magical Super Bowl run — their second title in five seasons. The team remains in good hands with QB Eli Manning (4,933 yards, 29 TDs), who has established himself as one of the league's top clutch players. The offense lost WR Mario Manningham and RB Brandon Jacobs, who both signed with San Francisco, but has talented wideouts in Victor Cruz (1,536 yards) and Hakeem Nicks (1,192 yards), and a strong RB in Ahmad Bradshaw (nine TDs). The defense that ranked third in the NFL with 48 sacks is still intimidating with DEs Jason Pierre-Paul (16.5 sacks), Osi Umenyiora (nine sacks), and Justin Tuck (five sacks). Safety Antrel Rolle (96 tackles) blossomed last season. Coach Tom Coughlin's challenge will be keeping his team focused on the task at hand. No team has repeated as champs since the 2004 Patriots.

BOTTOM LINE: The Giants lost some depth, but they have enough talent and experience to win this division.
Grade: A–

[Photo Gallery: NFL Players With Fans At Training Camp]

2. Philadelphia Eagles
2011 RECORD: 8–8
Philly lost eight of its first 12 games in 2011, ruining a season that had championship expectations. The Eagles have big-time playmakers in QB Michael Vick (3,303 yards, 18 TDs) and RB LeSean McCoy (1,309 yards, 17 TDs) but need a better offensive line to keep them upright. Led by DE Jason Babin (18 sacks), the Eagles' D ranked first in the NFL with 50 sacks. A secondary that features CBs Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie must rebound after allowing 27 passing TDs last season.

BOTTOM LINE: The Eagles may have the most talent in the NFL, but the players must work together.
Grade: B+

3. Dallas Cowboys
2011 RECORD: 8–8
Big plays were the Cowboys' downfall last season — the defense gave up too many and the offense didn't make enough. Tony Romo has had the NFL's best fourth-quarter passer rating (102.1) since 2006 but hasn't been able to close out crucial games. He needs help from WRs Miles Austin and Dez Bryant — neither finished 2011 in the NFL's top 25 in yards or receptions. Dallas patched up their defense by signing CB Brandon Carr and selecting CB Morris Claiborne of LSU in the draft. DE DeMarcus Ware (19.5 sacks) is the one sure thing on this team.

BOTTOM LINE: The Cowboys will reach the playoffs if they learn how to finish off games.
Grade: B

4. Washington Redskins
2011 RECORD: 5–11
The Redskins likely won't win many games but they'll be fun to watch with rookie QB Robert Griffin III leading the team. Griffin is an exciting athlete who can make plays through the air and on the ground. RG3's supporting cast is weak. Veteran receivers Santana Moss (584 yards) and off-season acquisition Pierre Garcon (947 yards) aren't game-breakers, and RBs Roy Helu and Tim Hightower don't scare anyone. The Skins' D, led by LB London Fletcher, has a solid front seven returning and retooled its secondary by signing safeties Brandon Meriweather and Tanard Jackson.

BOTTOM LINE: With little help for RG3, the Skins will be last for the fifth straight time.
Grade: C
 

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