- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Philadelphia Eagles‘ offseason overhaul hasn’t gone unnoticed in Green Bay. Neither has the hype that’s come along with it.

While the reigning Super Bowl champion Packers are taking the Eagles seriously, they’re mildly amused at what they see as a rush to crown new conference favorites before the season starts. Given the chance, Green Bay is confident it will bring the “dream team” back to reality.

“On paper, I guess they’re the ‘dream team,’” Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop said. “You’ve definitely got to go out on the field and make it happen. So we’ll see.”

The Eagles positioned themselves as the Packers‘ top challenger in the conference after adding a wealth of top-line talent, including cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Not to mention former Packers defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins.

“We’re a confident bunch,” Packers wide receiver James Jones said. “We truly don’t pay attention to who everybody gets, we truly don’t care who everybody gets. We believe when we step on that field we’re going to win the game, no matter who it is. If we happen to run into them, we’ll be ready.”

The Eagles aren’t the Packers‘ only serious challengers in the NFC.

The Chicago Bears beat the Packers for the NFC North title last year, then lost to their rivals in the NFC title game at Soldier Field. But the Bears could be poised to take a step backward unless Jay Cutler’s protection improves significantly. With a fierce defensive line, the Detroit Lions could become the Packers‘ closest pursuers in the division _ provided quarterback Matthew Stafford can stay healthy.

The conference’s most competitive division may be the NFC South. The Atlanta Falcons drafted wide receiver Julio Jones, although it remains to be seen if they can to fix a defense that Aaron Rodgers carved up in the playoffs. The New Orleans Saints are trying to regain their Super Bowl-winning form and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear to be on the rise.

Then there’s the NFC West, a division there for the taking for any team that can make even a modest improvement. The West was an afterthought last season, and there aren’t many reasons to think that will change much in the short term.



The Eagles already were heavyweights in the division, and their offseason shopping spree only solidified that status _ provided, of course, that Michael Vick continues to play like he did last season.

Vick certainly has enough skill around him to succeed, although some shuffling along the offensive line is unsettling. The defense is a little light at linebacker but should be good enough for a serious playoff run.

Nobody in Dallas was happy with the Cowboys last season, but they did go 5-3 after Jason Garrett took over as coach. The defense was miserable, and that needs to change under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. The offense should be explosive again with Tony Romo back and healthy.

The Giants have been clobbered by injuries already, ending the seasons of cornerback Terrell Thomas (knee) and defensive tackle Marvin Austin (pectoral muscle), the Giants’ second-round draft pick; first-round cornerback Prince Amukamara had foot surgery and won’t be ready to start the season. They should be good on offense, provided that their offensive line reshuffling doesn’t backfire. But are Eli Manning and company good enough to carry the team?

Story Continues →