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NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys

Jerry’s ‘Boys have but one mission this season: to represent the conference in next February’s Super Bowl in the owner’s Arlington palace. Jerry Jones fully expects the Cowboys to be the first team in a Super Bowl in its home stadium. It could happen.

Dallas is loaded in the backfield with QB Tony Romo and RBs Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. Jason Witten is among the league’s best tight ends. If Doug Free can handle being the full-time left tackle, the line should be solid, although it’s struggled in the preseason. Rookie Dez Bryant and the breakout player of last season, Miles Austin, give the receiving corps plenty of buzz, but Bryant missed all but three games of his final year at Oklahoma State while suspended, and got hurt in training camp.

DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer all are defensive playmakers. Only a potentially leaky secondary could hold back the D, which was 20th against the pass in 2009.

New York Giants

Buried in the rubble of a late-season collapse to 8-8, during which the Giants virtually quit in final losses to Carolina and Minnesota, was a 5-0 start when most everybody was healthy.

The issues for New York as it moves into its new stadium center on a defense that was a sieve down the stretch. The Giants’ scheme relies on a hefty pass rush, so Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka need to be in the lineup and in form. The rest of the defense is suspect, leaving lots of work for new coordinator Perry Fewell.

Eli Manning has lots of targets after a remake of the receiving unit and the quick development of Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and TE Kevin Boss. But the Giants want to be a running team, which means a veteran (some say aging) offensive line must clear space for RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.

Philadelphia Eagles

Some Philadelphians choked on their cheese steaks when Donovan McNabb was traded within the division in April (to Washington). Others raised a toast to the Eagles for moving on and moving up Kevin Kolb.

If Kolb succeeds at quarterback _ and he has the tools to do so, particularly in receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, TE Brent Celek, and RB LeSean McCoy (but no Brian Westbrook) _ the Eagles will push the Giants for second place. If he doesn’t, they could be keeping company further down the standings with Washington. And McNabb.

A secondary that once was Philly’s crown jewel has become so questionable that rookie Nate Allen is being counted on to boost it back to prominence. The Eagles also need continued production up front by Trent Cole and are counting heavily on rookie first-round pick Brandon Graham to improve the pass rush.

Washington Redskins

Is everybody happy in Redskins Land? Well, Albert Haynesworth has said some nice things about the 3-4 defense he once abhorred _ if not about new head coach Mike Shanahan, who shifted Haynesworth to nose tackle. And Donovan McNabb is the accomplished veteran quarterback the team has lacked for years.

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