2012 NFL Division Predictions: NFC East

Because having to rely on Michael Vick on your fantasy team wasn't already the stuff of nightmares, the Eagles want to do it in real life as well. And it may just work.

In recent years, the NFC East has been tougher to predict than the Republican nominee for Vice President. The Eagles brought in Nnamdi Asomugha, and Michael Vick looks poised to break out in 2011? Naturally, they’ll finish at 8-8 and the Giants will steal the division. The Cowboys pick up Dez Bryant in the draft and could play at home in the Super Bowl in 2010? Here’s a 6-10 record for you, good sirs. The Giants come into 2009 with two straight 10 win seasons (and a Super Bowl in one of them to boot)? Here’s a healthy dose of a .500 record, fresh and ready from the oven. And if you don’t expect Mike Shanahan to wreck preseason predictions just like he has wrecked fantasy owners’ hopes and dreams, then lend a closer ear to Donovan McNabb next time.

But if you had to choose a winner in the division that gives the NFL salary cap man Inception-esque nightmares, who would it be? For numberFire’s fake money (if, you know, gambling was legal as Bill Simmons loves to say), put it down on the men in green. But don’t feel too confident in that choice.

NFC East Predictions

1. Philadelphia Eagles
Overall Rank: #9
Projected Record: 11.1-4.9
Playoff Odds: 44.9%
Super Bowl Odds: 3.9%

Surprise, surprise, all eyes are on the offense in Philadelphia. The unit ranks 10th in the league, mostly due to Not So Slim Shady pounding through the line and catching the ball out of the backfield in Philadelphia’s system (numberFire estimates his receiving total at right around 400 yards.) But that offense isn’t out of the ordinary in the NFC East – three teams in the division have top 10 nF rankings. The real key for the Eagles season, then, lies in the hands of our 15th overall defense, which is also first in the NFC East. Recent pickup DeMeco Ryans, rookie Mychal (don’t spell it Michael) Kendricks, and the man who is allowing the Rolles to turn into the Molinas of the NFL may make or break the season in the linebacking corps.

2. New York Giants
Overall Rank: #11
Projected Record: 9.9-6.1
Playoff Odds: 50.5%
Super Bowl Odds: 4.9%

Because everybody loves Super Bowls and somewhat awkward SNL appearances, how about the Giants have another? Not so fast my friend. We’re not even sure they’ll hit the 10 win plateau. Granted, they finished 9-7 last season and won it all, but in the five seasons from 2006 through 2010, there were only a total of five teams that won divisions with less than 10 wins. (And one of those was the second-worst team in playoff history.) Feeling blue(r than normal) Giants fans? Don’t feel too down, with the way the schedule breaks down, the Giants actually have a lower projected record than Philly, but a higher chance at a Super Bowl than anyone else in the division.

3. Dallas Cowboys
Overall Rank: #12
Projected Record: 8.4-7.6
Playoff Odds: 35.3%
Super Bowl Odds: 2.3%

I love how it’s a news story that Jerry Jones simply can’t accept failure again, with the implication being for Cowboys’ fans, “Oh, well I guess Jerry’s really trying this year then!” Like he wasn’t the past couple years, I guess. But the numberFire rankings say there might just be too much to overcome at the top. The NFC comes into this season especially top-heavy; the Cowboys are the 8th best team in the conference. (Only 4 AFC teams crack the top 4 – NE, BAL, PIT, HOU). A lot of it may just be health for the Cowboys – Romo, Austin, and Murray all had injury trouble at points last year. But hey, at least Jerry's trying, right?

4. Washington Redskins
Overall Rank: #24
Projected Record: 4.7-11.3
Playoff Odds: 14.9%
Super Bowl Odds: 0.4%

Redskins fans haven’t been able to get enough of RGIII since he has come to town, with everything from his throwing motion to the Incredible Hulk action figures in his locker being scrutinized. But for Washington, it probably won't be enough. The Redskins’ defense may not be Hulk-like, but it isn’t really half bad… it’s exactly half bad, directly in the middle at 16th of our NFL defensive rankings. The offense, though, looks like its been Hulk-smashed – the offensive skill player with the highest FireFactor is Roy Helu at 47.86. By comparison, the Giants' and Cowboys’ offenses both have four skill players who are expected to have a higher offensive contribution. And the Eagles’ McCoy is projected to have nearly 400 more all-purpose yards. It’s going to be rough going for Washington this year.