Next up in our whirlwind trip around the division on the eve of the regular season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, a team who has once referred to themselves as the "Dream Team" and then, more recently, a "Dynasty." Otherwise known as the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles are operating this year under a few contextual backdrops. Last year's "Dream Team Meltdown" hangs over head coach Andy Reid and his job. Also hanging over the head coach and the team, the death of Reid's son Garrett, who passed away during training camp where he worked with the team. But everything with the Eagles starts with one thing…
Can Mike Vick stay healthy for a full season? Vick appears to be a magnet for punishment, which is probably a testament to his fearlessness when standing in the pocket and trying to extend plays or pick up yards. That said, he's always cracking a rib or breaking a finger, so it's a fine line. If Vick can stay on the field, he's got more than enough weapons to win a bunch of games. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are among the fastest pair of starting wideouts in the league and LeSean McCoy is a truly special running back who can win games by himself.
Of course, McCoy might have to win some games by himself if Vick misses any time. And if recent history is any indication, the Nick Foles and/or Trent Edwards era might show face in Philly sooner rather than later: Vick already took a shot to the ribs that ended his preseason early and had him fitted for a new kevlar vest.
Demeco Ryans was the big acquisition for the Eagles this offseason, coming in to hopefully settle a middle linebacker position they've been trying to settle down for years. Playing behind Cullen Jenkins, Trent Cole and Jason Babin, Ryans should have a chance earn his money on a defense that was absolutely gashed on the ground last season.
Big acquisitions from the past two years, Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha, highlight the defensive backfield. These guys are considered upper end and elite NFL corner status respectively, but neither of them looked it in last year's mess. All in all, the Eagles defense looks like it has more than enough talent to be a top unit if they can put some things together.
Our X-Factor for the Cowboys was the offensive line and maybe there's a theme appearing as we look back to that unit here, but this time at a particular player. Or lack thereof.
The Eagles lost left tackle Jason Peters to a torn Achilles during summer workouts. That late in the offseason, it's really hard to find an adequate replacement for at such a high-priority position, much less one as good as Peters. If whoever wins the left tackle job doesn't do their job, Vick, already the most fragile quarterback in the NFL, is going to get killed.
It's hard for us to move on from the 2011 season, because we won the Super Bowl and boy was that Eagles melt down so fun to watch. The Giants won't face the Eagles until week four, so as far as we're concerned Vick's status for the game is doubtful because he's bound to get hurt in weeks 1-3.
Otherwise, we think the Eagles are probably the Giants biggest threat in the division. An offensive with elite speed from running back to wide receiver to, yes, quarterback; a defense that goes after the ball and has an up-and-coming front seven; a team that's coming off a humiliating and humbling 2011 campaign. That Week 17 matchup between the two teams might really close out the season with a bang. For one of the teams.
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