NFC East preview: Cowboys and Eagles to battle for crown in division of unknowns

PREVIEW

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The Independent Online

The NFL season is upon us! The Independent takes a look at all 32 teams, how they have spent their summer and what fans can expect this season. Tom Brady is no longer banned, and that spells trouble...

DALLAS COWBOYS

They may have lost top running back DeMarco Murray to the Eagles over the summer, but not too many are lamenting that - Murray has a poor history of injuries and rushers are always getting hurt.

Former back-up Joseph Randle and the forever injured Darren McFadden have to replace Murray, but the Cowboys have the best and deepest offensive line in the game, which just got better after they signed undrafted rookie La'el Collins. He is a first-round talent but fell through the net after being named a person of interest (not a suspect) in the death of his former girlfriend.

Dez Bryant (eventually) signed a new deal and they drafted a Byron Jones at cornerback, a position of relative weakness last season. Head coach Jason Garrett has one of the deepest teams in the NFL.

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NEW YORK GIANTS

All eyes will be on whether wide receiver Odell Beckham can continue his spectacular form in his second season. After missing the first four games of last season, the master of the one-handed catch led the NFL in receiving yards per game last season.

Beckham and quarterback Eli Manning got on like a house on fire but there are far too many holes in the rest of the squad to see the Giants reach the play-offs, especially with four games against the Cowboys and Eagles.

The job of experienced head coach Tom Coughlin appears to be on the line.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Head coach Chip Kelly put in a summer's work few can compare, overhauling almost his entire squad with an unprecedented amount of moves. Kelly is an offensive genius but he allowed three of the top performers (Nick Foles, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy) leave over the summer, adding to DeSean Jackson's departure last summer.

DeMarco Murray has arrived but the biggest gamble of the summer saw Kelly bring in Sam Bradford from the St Louis Rams. Bradford, a former No 1 draft pick, was a college standout but seen as a draft bust after numerous injuries and the massive amount of salary he cost the Rams.

The Eagles are seen as favourites by many for the division but it will all depend on the play of Bradford.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

It's getting messy in DC. Robert Griffin III was seen as a potential star just two seasons ago but now could be on his way out of the club, following an uncomfortable summer in which rookie head coach Jay Gruden has turned his back on the former No 1 draft pick

Griffin looks nowhere near like his old self and the Redskins announced that Kirk Cousins will start in week 1. Alfred Morris has been an excellent running back in the past, rookie Matt Jones looks like another potentially explosive runner and the Redskins have speed at receiver in Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed.

But the offensive line is poor and the defence lacks talent - it's difficult to see anything but a losing season for Washington.

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