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NFC East Preview: Dallas Cowboys might be favorites

We previewed the NFC East on our latest "Around The League Podcast." Some big-picture thoughts are below. We've already previewed the AFC East, AFC North, AFC South and AFC West.

Cowboys the most popular pick in wide-open division


Around the League predicts NFC East
 
Chris Wesseling
Marc Sessler
Dan Hanzus
Gregg Rosenthal
1
Cowboys (10-6)
Cowboys (9-7)
Redskins (10-6)
Eagles (10-6)
2
Redskins (10-6)
Redskins (9-7)
Giants (9-7)
Giants (9-7)
3
Giants (9-7)
Eagles (8-8)
Cowboys (8-8)
Redskins (8-8)
4
Eagles (7-9)
Giants (6-10)
Eagles (5-11)
Cowboys (6-10)

The NFC East is the "SEC of the NFL," but it is the most wide-open division in football. Two Around The League writers picked the Cowboys to win it, and special podcast guest Henry Hodgson also took Dallas for the top spot.

I had the Cowboys in dead last at 6-10 because the changes on their defense don't make sense. Monte Kiffin hasn't had a lot of success in college or the NFL for a long time, and some of Dallas' aging talent might not fit in a 4-3 scheme. Kiffin might need time to implement his changes, but this is a win-now season for coach Jason Garrett. Chris Wesseling believes the Cowboys have the best offense and defense in the division.

Big disagreements on Eagles


I have Philadelphia winning the division. Everyone else has the Eagles in last place. The case for Philly: New coach Chip Kelly and plenty of latent offensive talent. Philadelphia's offensive line should be a weapon; there isn't a more imposing tackle duo than Jason Peters and Lane Johnson. Kelly's offensive concepts will be difficult for defenses to handle in Year 1, and he has two quarterbacks who can run his system.

All the last-place votes for the Eagles primarily were because of their defense. The secondary is a collection of castoffs and disappointments. It's not clear where their pass rush will come from.

Will Robert Griffin III take a step back?


Only one of us -- Dan Hanzus -- took the Redskins to repeat as division champions. There is great reason to doubt their defense, especially the secondary. (This is a trend throughout the division.) But we also wondered if Robert Griffin III will take a step back.

Division previews

Around the League previews the key topics for the 2013 season in each division, including predicting final records for each team.

AFC
» East | North | South | West
NFC
» East | North | South | West

It's not just about RGIII's mobility or lack of practice time heading into his second season. It's his accuracy. Tom Brady wasn't the same right away after his ACL surgery. He wasn't as comfortable in the pocket or as accurate. It took him half a season to look like himself. This Redskins team just isn't that deep unless RGIII is all the way back sooner than later, and that's a lot to ask.

Little love for Big Blue


No one took the Giants to win the division, although three of us had them at 9-7 (just like the last two years, including their last Super Bowl title). It's hard to imagine the Giants' defense playing worse this season, but it's also hard to imagine it being a difference-maker again.

Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger and Keith Rivers are a shaky starting linebacker trio. The secondary had big questions even before injuries were suffered Saturday night. The offensive line similarly is banged up with trouble spots. Eli Manning has elevated his play overall in the last two seasons, but he's not the type of quarterback who consistently puts a team on his back month after month.

Listen to our entire NFC East podcast preview right here.

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