2007 record in parentheses:

NEW YORK GIANTS (10-6, 14-6 including postseason and Super Bowl win)

Strengths: This is tight-knit team looking to prove winning Super Bowl wasn't a fluke. QB Eli Manning is improving and playing behind same offensive line. With Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck at ends, team that led NFL in sacks might do it again under second-year coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

Weaknesses: Neither David Carr nor Anthony Wright is answer if Manning is hurt. Depth on defensive line without retired Michael Straham. With loss of Kawika Mitchell in free agency, weakside linebacker is iffy with Danny Clark, Gerris Wilkinson and Brian Kehl.

Players to watch: Safety Kenny Phillips, first-round draft pick, will be starter soon. R Brandon Jacobs is in contract year. Manning needs to maintain development he showed in postseason. WR Plaxico Burress can be exceptional if his ankle gets better.

Biggest change: Defense without seven-time Pro Bowler Strahan. Kevin Boss at tight end instead of four-time Pro Bowler Jeremy Shockey.

Schedule key: Stretch in late October and early November with road games at Pittsburgh and Philadelphia sandwiching home game against Dallas.

DALLAS COWBOYS (13-3, 13-4 including postseason)

Strengths: Cowboys return all of their NFL-record 13 Pro Bowlers. Two-time Pro Bowl QB Tony Romo set team records (4,211 yards passing, 36 TDs) in first full season as starter. WR Terrell Owens is content after NFL-high 28 TDs the past two years and contract extension.

Weaknesses: Lack of recent postseason success. Can they win in January? Cowboys are viewed as legitimate Super Bowl contender, and were NFC's top seed last season. But they've gone 11 seasons without playoff victory, with heartbreaking losses the last two.

Players to watch: Romo, Owens, RB Marion Barber, TE Jason Witten, LB DeMarcus Ware, CB/kick returner Adam Pacman Jones (if reinstated by NFL).

Biggest change: Barber starting instead of finishing. Bruising runner nicknamed the Barbarian, who made Pro Bowl without starting a game in regular season last year, got new contract and new role. He is clear No. 1 runner after Julius Jones left in free agency, without any attempt by Cowboys to keep their former top pick.

Schedule key: As NFC East champions, Cowboys drew tougher schedule than Super Bowl champion Giants. First three weeks: on road against Cleveland and Green Bay, sandwiching home opener against Philadelphia.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS (9-7, 9-8 including postseason)

Strengths: Roster continuity. All but one of 22 starters were on team last year. Exception is six-time Pro Bowl DE Jason Taylor, who gives pass rush much-needed upgrade. Players seem to have bought into new coach Jim Zorn's upbeat approach.

Weaknesses: Spotty depth on offensive line, in secondary. Muddled situation at receiver due to slow development of high-round draft picks Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly.

Players to watch: QB Jason Campbell, who needs to master yet another new offense. Emerging S LaRon Landry, who moves into the late Sean Taylor's free safety spot. Jason Taylor, who needs another season of double-digit sacks.

Biggest change: Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs retired and was replaced by first-time head coach Zorn, whose previous job was quarterbacks coach with Seattle.

Schedule key: Three of first five games are on road against NFC East rivals.


Strengths: Eagles have three legitimate starters at cornerback, including two Pro-Bowl players in Asante Samuel and Lito Sheppard. If Sheppard can adjust to splitting time with Sheldon Brown, trio could be best in NFL. Quarterback Donovan McNabb is entering season healthier than he's been in years, and All-Pro running back Brian Westbrook is dynamic weapon.

Weaknesses: Offense lacks playmaking wide receiver, especially with Kevin Curtis sidelined, and there's instability on offensive line. Injuries have plagued defensive line and free safety Brian Dawkins is on the decline.

Players to watch: McNabb wants to prove he's still same player who went to five straight Pro Bowls. Rookie WR DeSean Jackson could make impact in passing game and he's dangerous punt returner. Samuel, who got mega-contract in free agency, brings playmaking ability to secondary. Two-time Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews missed most of training camp because he's battling depression, so he'll be monitored closely.

Biggest change: Sheppard a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback, won't be full-time starter for first time in five years.

Schedule key: Three of last four games are against NFC East rivals, including two on road.