Think of the NFC East as the first Roman triumvirate.
The Cowboys would represent Crassus: the wealthiest man in Rome but also the first to die, just as the team did after it won three Super bowls, leading Jerry Jones to believe he could run a successful franchise by himself.
The Eagles would be Pompey, always being told how great they are. Then, just when real power seems imminent, serious gaffes in judgment are made to prevent control of the empire.
That would of course make the Giants Caesar, the only team in the division to ever gain control of the empire by actually winning Super bowls. But watch out champs, RG III and the Redskins must then be Brutus, just a year or two away from creating their own legacy.
With the exception of these mightily improved Redskins, this is how the NFC East has played itself out for the past five years and I don’t anticipate anything new. Some people hopefully do, however.
Jerry Jones has recently been quoted as saying, “If we play better….” Eagles loyalists can be heard wishfully thinking, “If we stop turning the ball over….”
In the words of Mike Ditka: Stop it. This particular column is dealing with the reality of the league, not fantasy football.
The reality of the Cowboys is that they lack discipline and expect production from low-character players who can’t learn a playbook, even if he has three years to do so.
Moreover, this team has an ongoing power struggle of their own. Any Cowboys head coach not named Parcells serves as a mere puppet to Jones, and this of course is a dysfunctional way of running an NFL franchise.
As for the Eagles, they are amidst two consecutive years of protecting the football as judiciously as Pompey protected the city. Michael Vick has given me no indication that this momentous problem will fade away as the season progresses.
It’s who they are, so I’d rather not waste my time thinking about what kind of team they could be.
Therefore, the Giants once again look like the most formidable team in the division. Eli Manning is the best clutch quarterback in the game right now, even without wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. Their defense is revolutionary, able to pressure the opposing quarterback using a four-man rush that doesn’t leave the rest of the defense vulnerable.
The Caesar of the NFC East appears to be safe for now, as I expect them to win the division but not another playoff game against the 49ers. I still like the Eagles to make the playoffs, though turnovers will derail any championship dreams. I anticipate the Cowboys and Redskins to finish around .500 with the latter making strides toward 2013 while playing the role of the incessant spoiler.
I’ll Take: Cowboys @ Ravens (-4), Patriots (-4) @ Seahawks, Bengals @ Browns (+3), Rams @ Dolphins (-3.5).
(2-2 on the season)