Friday, September 11, 2009
NFC East: Final Word
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Five nuggets of knowledge about this weekend's games:
The Eagles appear to be in disarray heading into Week 1: And this has nothing to do with Michael Vick. Shawn Andrews missed Thursday's practice and Andy Reid ducked out a back exit to avoid reporters. And on Friday, Reid ruled Andrews out of Sunday's game. Oh, and Brian Westbrook's name showed up on the injury list with a knee issue. So let's get this thing started. Until he proves otherwise, Winston Justice is a huge question mark at right tackle. I wouldn't trust him over there for a second. After the game, Reid won't be able to sign veteran free-agent right tackle Jon Runyan quickly enough. This is not a good way to start the season -- especially against a pretty solid Panthers pass rush. Can the Eagles slow down DeAngelo Williams on defense? That's the other big question I have. He's a phenomenal running back. This is feeling more and more like a loss.
Rich Kane/US Presswire
Time for Eli Manning to show he deserves the rich contract extension he received in August.
Jason Campbell is going to play really well against the Giants on Sunday: OK, there I said it. He's done an amazing job of staying focused through a lot of offseason adversity. And it helps that the Giants are banged up in the secondary. Someone named Bruce Johnson may see a lot of time at the nickel spot. If that's the case, look for Campbell to put up some nice numbers. I think Terrell Thomas could struggle with Malcolm Kelly. I really do. Let's keep an eye on that matchup.
Can the Cowboys win with a strong defense and running game? We're about to find out. Surely Jason Garrett will lean on Marion Barber and Felix Jones in the running game. It just makes too much sense. I think early success in the running game will inspire this offensive line. Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo can be dominant at times. Garrett needs to let that happen. It will also be interesting to see the unveiling of the two-tight end package with Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett. I think it will be a focal point for the offense, and the Bucs don't have enough personnel to account for both Witten and Marty B.
Eli Manning's about to earn that enormous paycheck: I think we've overblown the whole situation at wide receiver. The Giants are deep at running back and they have a very talented young tight end in Kevin Boss. Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon will do the job until Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden are ready to take over. I think Nicks could be starting before we make it to October -- especially if Smith and Hixon sputter out of the gate. But Manning's going to be very accurate this season, and he'll show why he deserves to be called an elite quarterback.
Here's a little secret about Eagles-Panthers: The Panthers won't be able to cover DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek. If the offensive line can give Donovan McNabb just a little time, Jackson and Celek will have big games. Celek's sort of the guy no one's talking about. He's quietly becoming a lot more like Chris Cooley and Jason Witten than people think. He's improved his route running and he's going to make tough catches. The playoff experience was huge for him. Look for big things. Have a wonderful NFL weekend. Compliments of the Beast!