Dallas Cowboys - Put away your shovels because the Cowboys aren't dead yet. The Cowboys were humiliated by their 20-7 playoff loss to Arizona last season and would love nothing more than to silence the doubters that think they're washed up. People tend to overlook the fact that Emmitt Smith rushed for over 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. Quarterback Troy Aikman is always around the 60 percent completion mark and odds are extremely high that Michael Irvin will surpass his one touchdown reception from last year. After many experiments, they may have also found a second receiver to compliment Irvin in the form of Rocket Ismail.
Arizona Cardinals - Quarterback Jake Plummer has finally figured out how to read defenses on an NFL level and started showing the league what he's capable of. Plummer has already taken a disliking to division rival Dallas, throwing for 465 yards against them in a mid-November game, then eliminating them from the playoffs in round one. Free agency, injuries and a horrible car crash which may eliminate three players from their roster will prevent the Cardinals from taking the division, but they won't go down quietly.
New York Giants - The Giants' division championship two seasons ago was no fluke, despite their under-achieving 8-8 mark last year. They say defenses win championships and coach Jim Fassel has one of the top units in the NFL, led by defensive end Michael Strahan and returning cornerback Jason Sehorn. As good as the defense is, however, that's how bad the offense is. Last season, they averaged just 17.9 points per game so they acquired new quarterback Kerry Collins. That may not be the remedy Fassel is looking for unless Collins surprises everyone and brings his maturity and intensity level up to the level of his physical talents.
Washington Redskins - The vultures are already circling. Right or wrong, coach Norv Turner could be out of a job before the season is over. The Redskins' season and Turner's job depends on the gimpy knee of newly acquired quarterback Brad Johnson. A healthy Johnson is an upgrade from last year's quarterback Trent Green but he's been experiencing knee pain in preseason. On the defensive side, they have as much expensive talent as anyone with Dana Stubblefield and Dan Wilkinson but they also need to stay healthy and focused. Too many question marks lead to too many losses.
Philadelphia Eagles - Yecch. The Eagles are clearly a work in progress and you may see more paper bags on heads than Eagles shirts in the stands. Head coach Andy Reid doesn't have a whole lot to work with in his first year at the helm. Quarterback Doug Pederson, a career backup, is essentially a Band-Aid while "quarterback of the future" Donovan McNabb has time to develop. The sooner, the better. Last year the Eagles won three games and scored 17 touchdowns, six behind Denver's Terrell Davis. This year they'll be lucky to win two.