All-NFC East Team: Week 12 Update

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
9:45
AM ET
Well, I brought my flak jacket and a suit of armor, because we're changing quarterbacks this week. Getting that one out of the way right away, since it's the one that's going to get the most people fired up over this week's All-Division Team. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo takes over the starting quarterback spot on our team from the New York Giants' Eli Manning after Manning held it for seven straight weeks. Why? Well, of course you know I'll tell you why.

First, the disclaimer that no one will read: This is an All-Division Team based on overall performance this year to date. It is not, repeat NOT a list of awards for this past week's performance. That is why Jabar Gaffney is not on it.

To that end, our quarterbacks' numbers are nearly identical, but Romo's are slightly better in every category except yards, where Manning has Romo by 15.2 yards per game. Romo has a higher passer rating, higher completion percentage, one more touchdown pass and four fewer turnovers. They've been sacked the same number of times. It's close. It could change again, many times. But through the first 11 weeks of this season, Romo's been the best quarterback in the NFC East.

I will address other positions after I give you the team, which features just four changes and now includes nine Cowboys, six Giants, six Eagles and six Redskins.

[+] EnlargeTony Romo
AP Photo/Tony AvelarTony Romo has a higher passer rating, higher completion percentage and fewer turnovers than Eli Manning.
Quarterback: Tony Romo, Cowboys (Last week: Eli Manning)

Running back: LeSean McCoy, Eagles (McCoy)

Wide receiver: Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, Giants (Nicks, Cruz)

Tight end: Jason Witten, Cowboys (Witten)

Fullback: Darrel Young, Redskins (Young)

Left tackle: Jason Peters, Eagles (Peters)

Left guard: Evan Mathis, Eagles (Mathis)

Center: Will Montgomery, Redskins (Montgomery)

Right guard: Danny Watkins, Eagles (Watkins)

Right tackle: Tyron Smith, Cowboys (Smith)

Defensive end: Trent Cole, Eagles; Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants (Cole, Pierre-Paul)

Defensive tackle: Jay Ratliff, Cowboys; Cullen Jenkins, Eagles (Ratliff, Jenkins)

Outside linebacker: DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys; Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins (Ware, Mathias Kiwanuka)

Inside linebacker: London Fletcher, Redskins; Sean Lee, Cowboys (Fletcher, Lee)

Cornerback: Terence Newman, Cowboys; Corey Webster, Giants (Newman, Webster)

Safety: Kenny Phillips, Giants; Abram Elam, Cowboys (Phillips, Gerald Sensabaugh)

Kicker: Dan Bailey, Cowboys (Bailey)

Punter: Steve Weatherford, Giants (Weatherford)

Kick returner: Brandon Banks, Redskins (Banks)

Punt returner: Brandon Banks, Redskins (Banks)

  • It's amazing what Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has done, and it's conceivable he could run down McCoy in yardage. McCoy only leads him by 272 yards, and considering that Murray wasn't the Cowboys' starter until the final week of October, that's pretty close. McCoy isn't in danger of losing his spot on this team any time soon -- not with 10 touchdowns to Murray's two and everything he means in the Eagles' passing game. But Murray's the first guy to even come close to being considered a challenger to McCoy this year. The third-leading rusher in the division is Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.
  • The top two receivers in the division in terms of catches are tight ends Witten and Fred Davis. But Cruz and Nicks lead in receiving yards, have combined for nine touchdowns and have both been more consistent than DeSean Jackson and Dez Bryant. I'd call Bryant a better player than Cruz, but he's still too in-and-out throughout games, and for the season Cruz has outperformed him. And the Eagles' Jeremy Maclin is hurt, so his ability to reclaim one of the spots is on hold.
  • Eagles right tackle Todd Herremans, who played one game at left tackle this year when Peters was hurt, is either the third-best or fourth-best offensive lineman in this division. The problem is that he's not playing as well as either Peters or Smith, who may well be the best left and right tackles in the whole league. I have thought about putting Herremans on this team and just putting him at right guard instead of Watkins, since I'm sure he could play it and if I were making an offensive line out of NFC East players I'd want him on it somewhere. And I may do that yet. But as of now, I'm picking my right guard from among the right guards, and Herremans is going to have to settle for this glowing honorable mention.
  • People are going to get on me again for Cole over Jason Babin at defensive end. And yeah, Babin has 10 sacks. But watch the games. Babin is an all-out pass-rusher. That is literally all he does. He plays the run not at all. Cole draws double-teams, dominates anyway and is the more complete player. I thought about giving Pierre-Paul's spot to Babin this week, but I think he too plays the run more and better than Babin does. And he's got one more sack. It's nothing against Babin, you understand. He's played great and would deserve a spot if two guys ahead of him weren't so excellent. It's kind of like the Herremans thing.
  • Either Kerrigan or Brian Orakpo had to go in for Kiwanuka this week. It's been close all along, and the 3-4 outside 'backers tend to impact games more than the 4-3 ones anyway. I went with Kerrigan, who I feel has made more impact plays than Orakpo has this year, by a hair. Good three-way race for the spot opposite King DeMarcus.
  • And I keep switching those Cowboys safeties in and out for each other. Both are playing well (neither as well as Phillips) but Sensabaugh got hurt, so I guess that's a tiebreaker.

All right. Let me hear it. What did I get wrong?

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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