To get you ready for another season of Paulâ€™s Pigskin Prognostications lets do some â€˜two-a-daysâ€™ and break down a couple of divisions! Todayâ€¦who will be the beast of the NFC and AFC east.
NFC East: The Giants still look to be the class of the division. Everyone else has enough strengths to potentially make a run at division or wild card honors, but every other team also has holes which will limit their impact.
4. Washington Redskins: Signing Albert Haynesworth will ensure the â€˜Skins defense keeps them in most games. And Clinton Portis will be poised to break Riggoâ€™s all-time yardage mark, if he can stay healthy. Then again if Portis would not end up on the shelf often as he does he would have already eclipsed Riggins, he is still one of the most gifted runners in the game. The Skins main problem has been and will continue to be at quarterback. And Jason Campbell cannot be exuding much confidence at this stage after overtures were made in the offseason to move him. In the end it equals another .500 season in DC. Paulâ€™s Projection: 7-9
3. Dallas Cowboys: The stadium will be new, but the deficiencies on defense still remain. And Tony Romo for all the hype and for all the flashes of brilliance still has to prove he can keep it together for an entire season. By the other side of turkey day Romoâ€™s passing rating resembles a hat size. Maybe without the distractions of Jessica Simpson AKA Yoko Romo and T.O. he can take the bull by the horns and make this team his own. However much as T.O. has been a cancer wherever he has gone, no team has won more games the year after he left, just a little something for Cowboys fan to think about. In the end much like their rivals in Washington this is a franchise that is treading water. Paulâ€™s Projection: 8-8
2. Philadelphia Eagles: In a lot of ways the Eagles tread water as well. But alas they do it in much calmer seas. Year end and year out Andy Reid produces playoff contenders and this year will be no different. But there is not enough punch to put the Eagles over the top and Vick-McNabb is just a controversy waiting to happen because Donovan does tend to be a bit mercurial in his performance level and there has been a undercurrent of impatience over the last several seasons in the coaching staff. Last year Donovan got benched in what turned out to be a blowout loss to Baltimore, if Vick shows the ability to get back to where he was before going to Leavenworth then McNabb will be searching for a new team come the offseason. Paulâ€™s Projection: 10-6, wild card berth.
1. New York Giants: The Giants defense will be stout as always. If Eli manages to find a real go to guy in the passing game then New York could make it back to the bowl. But even if not the schedule, and the mindset this team will have after a disappointing end to 2008 I think means another double digit winning season and another division title. Paulâ€™s Projection 11-5, division title
AFC East: If Tom Brady remains healthy then I see the Patriots returning to form and being a Super Bowl contender. As for the rest of the division, the Dolphins will continue to improve, though it might not show in the win column thanks to a tougher schedule. The Bills will be an interesting story with T.O. in tow but do not seem to have enough of the other parts to be a real contender while the Jets are light years away from contention.
4. New York Jets: Mark Sanchez will have his hands full in Gotham and Jets fan will not hesitate to voice their displeasure with his shortcomings. If the Jets win six this season it will be a minor miracle. Paulâ€™s Projection: 4-12 and a lot of irate fans
3. Buffalo Bills: Things are never dull with Terrell Owens around, no telling what sort of rancor his will cause by seasons end. If T.O has had issues with the likes of Donovan McNabb and Jeff Garcia it shudders to think of how badly his will disparage Trent Edwards. But if T.O can show a level of maturity that he has failed to show at any point in his career and keeps his mouth shut and plays the good guy for the first time in his life this could be a team that surprises, the defense and running game are already there, but T.O has never stayed down, why should he start now. In the end it will leave Buffalo as the most interesting .500 team in football. Paulâ€™s Projection 8-8, and T.O being shown the door by seasons end.
2. Miami Dolphins: 2008 was a season of surprises and no team exemplified that more than Miami. This time around they will not sneak up on anybody, but with a stacked defense (that includes the return of Jason Taylor after his ill fated move to Washington) and solid playmakers at the skill positions look for the Dolphins to again contend. Paulâ€™s Projection: 10-6 solid wild card contender
1. New England Patriots: Tom Brady is back with a full array of targets to throw get the ball and a solid running game to keep defenses off balance. The defense is a question mark and may well be the Pats downfall by seasons end, but with an offense like this the defense really only needs to be adequate, at this point that adjective describes the Pats defense aptly. Paulâ€™s Projection: 12-4 and depending on how well the defense plays out perhaps a return to the Super Bowl, though teams like San Diego and of course the defending champion Steelers will have a lot to say about that.