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Keeping a BTB Eye on the Other Beasts in the East

With the Cowboys, Giants, and Eagles all notching victories in Week One, the toughest division in football already looks as if it will live up to its reputation in 2009. Before the Cowboys welcome the Giants to their new stadium for Sunday Night Football, the Philadelphia Eagles will play host to Drew Brees' New Orleans Saints, and the St. Louis Rams will fly to Washington to take on the Redskins.

Make the jump for more.

First, let's start off with some divisional notes from last season.

  • Last season, the Giants were 7-1 at home, 5-3 on the road. They also had the best division record at 4-2.
  • The Eagles were 6-2 at home in 2008, and 3-4-1 on the road. They had the worst division record with a 2-4 finish.
  • The Cowboys were not great on the road last year with a 3-5 record, but were 6-2 at home. They split their division matchups 3-3.
  • The Redskins also won half their division games, finishing 3-3 in the East. At both home and on the road, they were an even 4-4.

Next, let's check out ESPN's NFL Power Rankings Week 2 for the Beasts.

3. Giants - The Giants might not have a No. 1 receiver, but they seem like a No. 1 team.

4. Eagles - By going for a meaningless fifth TD against the Panthers, Donovan McNabb fractured his ribs and the Eagles' season.

13. Cowboys - Roy Williams seems fine as the team's No. 1 receiver, and he doesn't cause the internal problems Terrell Owens created.

20. Redskins - Once again, the Redskins couldn't generate enough offense to win a crucial game against the Giants.

Washington Redskins

Does head coach, Jim Zorn, trust that Jason Campbell is the right QB to lead his offense to victory? They seem to have a boatload of receivers waiting to catch passes, but the passing game just could not break free last week.

"What we have to do is that trust thing," Campbell said. "We have to be able to trust each other, no matter what's called or no matter [who's] on the field. Every play's not going to be a perfect play or a positive play but make sure you have more big ones at the end of the day than the ones that you mess up."

Zorn has had two offseasons, two training camps, two preseason schedules and 17 regular season games in which to teach his pupils. At some point, you have to grade the teacher if the students don't learn. Last season, Zorn never stopped fretting. A Giants season opener on the road may be the wrong time to give the family teenager the keys to the Jaguar.

How can the Redskins handle a heartbreaker-of-a-loss to the Giants? Playing the Rams might help.

The Redskins held their own against Brandon Jacobs and company in Week 1, allowing 103 rushing yards on 31 carries to the Giants. Albert Haynesworth proved to be tough against the run, spearheading two short yardage stops, and London Fletcher was all over the field with 18 tackles.

Haynesworth will often matchup against C Jason Brown, the Rams' prize free agent pickup from the Ravens. Last month, Brown said the offense would plan to wear down the Skins' own big free agent acquisition.

The Haynesworth-Brown matchup became one to watch in August, when Brown curiously said that the Rams would run a hurry-up offense because Haynesworth tends to fatigue easily. Haynesworth had little to no reaction to the comment. Even so, you have to figure the 6-6, 350-pounder goes into the game with something to prove. Haynesworth and Brown, 6-3 and 320 pounds, competed against each other in the AFC Divisional playoffs last season when Haynesworth was with the Tennessee Titans and Brown was with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens won 24-10.

Here is ESPN's Box Score for Week 1's 'Skins @ Giants.

Here is the injury report for the 'Skins/Rams game. Most notable is T Chris Samuels (knee), who had limited participation in practice this week.

A little recent series history on these two clubs:

The Redskins hold a 20-8-1 lead in their all-time series with the Rams, but have lost their last two meetings with St. Louis. Washington handed the Rams one of their two wins of the 2008 season with a 19-17 decision at FedEx Field in Week 6 of last season.

We've all been witnessing the growth of BTB and the SBNation Homepage. Hogs Haven is growing, too, now with well over one million visitors!

Philadelphia Eagles

We should all stay tuned, but as of now Donovan McNabb's fractured rib will place Kevin Kolb in the starting QB role. McNabb did not take part in practice drills yesterday.

After appearing at practice today, McNabb is doing all he can to be able to play Sunday. The Eagles have yet to rule him out for Sunday's game against the Saints.

McNabb made a brief appearance on the practice field Thursday afternoon but did not take part in any drills, after fracturing his rib on a touchdown run late in Philadelphia's 38-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers last weekend. "Donovan is working very hard," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "You know Donovan, he's doing everything in his power to get back out there, make it to this game. He's played with a broken ankle, a broken sternum and all these things. Donovan is a very tough man."

McNabb or no McNabb, somebody's still got to contain RB Brian Westbrook. That somebody this week will be Saints LB Jonathan Vilma.

Vilma is the centerpiece of Williams' defense in New Orleans. The Saints traded for him before the '07 season. He has good reactions, moves well in space, and competes hard every down. He had 132 tackles in 16 starts last year. In Week 1 vs. Detroit, Vilma had four tackles and a sack.

No matter who plays QB for Philadelphia, Westbrook is the player that can beat you. Westbrook may be the toughest matchup in the NFL for defenses. He can run inside or outside, is an outstanding receiver (he caught 90 passes in 2007), and will block in pass protection. Plus, he's healthy after sitting out the preseason. Westbrook is very strong with great quickness.

A high-scoring game could spell victory for the Saints; plus, DEs Charles Grant and Will Smith could make things tough for Eagle QBs.

If McNabb is unable to play on Sunday, a shootout will likely favor the Saints. After all, Brees did throw a career-high six touchdown passes -- four in the first half -- last weekend to match New Orleans' single-game franchise record. While the Eagles are still waiting to see if they get good news on their franchise quarterback, the Saints caught a break themselves on Tuesday, when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith will not face immediate disciplinary action for their involvement in an ongoing battle over 2008 suspensions incurred for banned substance violations.

Former assistant coach for the Cowboys and Giants and now-Saints head coach, Sean Payton, has experienced the fans at Lincoln Financial Field. Former Giants' TE Jeremy Shockey also knows how hostile an environment it can be.

"The key on playing on the road is being able to focus on the task at hand and eliminating distractions and dealing with the crowd noise, which we worked on today," Payton said after practice Thursday. "This place gets loud. It’s a tough city because they’ve been so passionate about their team."

Sometimes overly passionate, Shockey said Wednesday. "It’s a hostile environment," he said. "Philadelphia definitely has some great fans, and you don’t know what you’re getting into when you go there. Things get thrown at the bus going into the parking lot. Whatever you can imagine, happens there.

Saints RB, Pierre Thomas (knee), participated fully in practice and should be ready to go.

Here is ESPN's Box Score for the Eagles' Week 1 road-win against the Panthers.

Just an FYI, Randall Cunningham will be added to the Eagles' ring of honor during halftime of the September 27th game against the Chiefs.

Recently released WR Hank Baskett will sign a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts--he, he.

New York Giants

DE Chris Canty can't go for Sunday night's game.

Chris Canty's return to Dallas will have to wait. The New York Giants defensive lineman missed practice Thursday with a calf injury, and a league source told NFL Network's Jason La Canfora that Canty will not play in Sunday night's game against the Cowboys.

Hat tip to Barrett14 for the FanPost.

The Star-Ledger used a familiar resource (Raf's article) in their Giants @ Cowboys scouting report.

In fact, in depth analysis of the Cowboys' defensive performance shows that the team performed poorly in just about every aspect, especially run defense.

The Buccaneers used Cadillac Williams and former Giant Derrick Ward (who ran for 127 yards in two games against the Cowboys in 2008) to amass 174 rushing yards. Not only did the Bucs find success running the ball, but they ran right at the Cowboys, accumulating 142 yards running up the middle. A healthy dose of the Giants ground game Sunday night could make the packed house in Arlington queasy, not to mention the Cowboys front seven.

The Big Blue View is thinking the Giants can use the "Jerrytron" to their advantage by distracting Romo. Check out this hot awesome post.

T.G.I. Friday's and Arlington's Fat Daddy's sports bar get in on some if-punts-hit-the-Jerrytron fun.

If one of the punters in the game, Mat McBriar or Jeff Feagles, boots a ball off the scoreboard, everyone in the bar will receive free green bean fries. And honestly, who doesn't wake up on Sundays craving fried green beans? In a response to T.G.I. Friday's announcement, a sports bar in Mansfield, Texas (just south of Arlington) called Fat Daddy's said patrons will receive free chicken fried steaks if either punter makes contact with Jerry Jones' massive HD video board.

And finally, for all things fantasy, check out sbnation.com/fantasy.

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