The NFC East is, year in and year out, one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. Example: the Worst to First Redskins, who rebounded from 5-11 in 2011 to 10-6 in 2012.
The bottom can also fall out, as evidenced by the Eagles, who went from 10-6 in 2010 to 8-8 in 2011 and 4-12 in 2012. Sandwiched between them are the Cowboys and Giants, who won the Super Bowl just over a year ago.
The Eagles and Redskins will kick off the season in Landover, Md., on Monday Night Football in Week 1. The Eagles get two home games after that, against San Diego and Kansas City, before a three-week road trip against Denver, the Giants and Tampa Bay. That's a balanced slate of competition for the Eagles, who are playing their first season without head coach Andy Reid since 1998. Chip Kelly and his high-tempo offense will look to last until a Week 17 road game at Dallas that could have playoff implications for each team.
Those Cowboys, who have one of the game's best passing offenses, will host the Giants in Week 1. After an off-season in which they battled some salary cap issues and extended the contract of quarterback Tony Romo, the Cowboys are looking to have their first winning season since 2009. The most critical stretch for this year's Cowboys could be their final three games. From Week 15 to 17, the Cowboys have Green Bay at home, the Redskins on the road and the Eagles at home.
The Giants also underachieved in 2012, failing to make the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl at the end of the 2011 season. They can rebound if they can withstand a final four-game set at San Diego, vs. Seattle, at Detroit and vs. Washington.