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NFC East

August 30, 2008|Sam Farmer

Fourth in an eight-part series as Times NFL writer Sam Farmer analyzes the league by division. Today, the NFC East:

Story lines

1 Like many defending Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants have tried to portray themselves as underdogs. With the Giants, we believe them. Their defensive line carried them through last season, and now Michael Strahan has retired and Osi Umenyiora is out for the season with a knee injury.

2 If you watched this summer's episodes of "Hard Knocks," you might think the Dallas Cowboys should just book their tickets to Tampa and wait around for whichever AFC team makes it to Super Bowl XLIII. But is this team a team, or just a bunch of stars (Romo, T.O, Pacman)? Linebacker Bradie James to nbcsports.com: "We can't be the Patriots. The Patriots, they epitomize the whole team concept. Those guys are all about the team and that's it. We're not them. We are a team that has a bunch of names, a bunch of personalities and a bunch of youth." Huh?

3 Redskins owner Dan Snyder has conducted one failed experiment after another. Now, Washington is giving it a go with Jim Zorn as coach, a guy who has never even been a coordinator. The thinking is Zorn will help develop promising young quarterback Jason Campbell. On the surface, it doesn't look like a great fit, seeing as Campbell doesn't seem suited for Zorn's West Coast offense.

How they'll finish

1. Dallas: Can you believe the Cowboys haven't won a postseason game since 1996? Neither can Jerry Jones.

2. New York Giants: Losing Umenyiora, the second-most important player to Eli Manning, really hurts.

3. Philadelphia: If he can stay healthy, Donovan McNabb can do some damage in this division. He needs better receivers, though.

4. Washington: Campbell can handle change -- he's on his seventh different offense in eight years, dating to his freshman year at Auburn.

-- Sam Farmer

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