coughlin1114.jpgPhiladelphia Eagles – Drama and injuries: these have been the achiles of the Eagles the last few years.  If it wasn’t Rush Limbaugh, it was Terrell Owens.  If it wasn’t Brian Westbrook, it was Donovan McNabb.  Now, as the 2007 season dawns, Head Coach Andy Reid’s progeny threatens to be the distraction.  D-Mac is back and insiders say that he has never looked so sharp.  Jim Johnson’s defense appears ready to rumble, if they can stay healthy.  Tossed to the curb were last year’s starters Jeremiah Trotter and Dhani Jones.  That signals some great depth, and the Eagles’ liking what they see in new addition Takeo Spikes on the weak side.  So, it’s all about the ‘ifs’ for me: If they can stay healthy, and if the drama doesn’t envelope them, then the Eagles look to win the East.

Dallas Cowboys – I know, I know.  Everyone is picking the Cowboys to win the East and make a deep playoff splash.  I’m not buying.  Although I like Wade Phillips as the replacement to Bill Parcells, I don’t think the Cowboys are quite ready for primetime.  Tony Romo will have a lot to say about it.  If he plays as well as he did last year, save the butter-fingers on that field goal attempt (notice that they brought veteran Brad Johnson in to be a back-up – don’t think for a moment that his consistency over 16 years of holding for placekickers didn’t cross their minds), the Cowboys will be in the mix.  They need more consistency from their defense, and that’s a good thing, because that’s Wade Phillip’s area of expertise.  One other note of caution for Cowboy fans: Wade ain’t no Bill where it comes to Jerry.  Bill Parcells seemed to put owner Jerry Jones back into the Owner’s Box during his tenure.  If I were a Cowboy observer, I’d be a little concerned that Jerry Jones hand-picked Jason Garrett to be the Offensive Coordinator.  Does Parcell’s departure mean that Jones will be back to his meddling ways?  If so, not good.

Washington Redskins – If Redskin fans are looking for encouraging signs, here’s a biggy: Daniel Snyder didn’t go buck-wild in the free-agency market this past off-season.  The Redskins and their Richy Rich owner have revamped their roster every off-season with a collection of high-dollar has-beens (their coaching staff on a few occasions too) and all to field mediocrity.  With one winning season in the last five to their credit, it is likely do-or-die time for this Gibbs era.  A lot of the Redskins fortune depends on young QB Jason Campbell and the health of RB Clinton Portis – physical health, mind you, because Portis’ emotional health has been a question mark for quite some time (as he dons his Ronald McDonald wig and clown glasses…).  I’d say that the deeper issue on offense might be the different philosophies – run, run, run says Joe Gibbs; throw early and often says Al Saunders.  A meeting in the middle might do wonders.  On defense, the team can only improve. 

New York Giants – Tiki torched.  The guy is a newscaster for NBC and he still has the most sway in the Giant’s lockerroom.  Will Eli lead the team?  Let’s ask Tiki.  Does Coach Tom Coughlin make it to the end of the season?  Let’s ask Tiki.  Is Michael Strahan holding out for more money?  Let’s ask Tiki.  This much is clear: Tom Coughlin is done.  Eli might survive, only because it will take most Giants fans another year or three to figure out that he’s not Peyton.  Shoot, some of the fans that live in Jersey think he’s Archie.  And Michael Strahan has decided he will play, but that might only add more lockerroom and newspaper drama.  The Giants will be a giant disappointment this season.