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NFL preview: Philadelphia Eagles

I'm picking three teams to finish at 10-6 in the NFC East, and because I think the Eagles are best equipped to win the most games against New York and Washington, I'm picking them to win the tiebreakers and the division.

Projected finish: 10-6 (1st in NFC East)

Most of the names have changed around QB Donovan McNabb and RB Brian Westbrook, who are the constants during coach Andy Reid's string of always-competitive teams. Among the new names this year is Michael Vick, who happens to share McNabb's position, but who brings a skill set unique enough that he can do damage in a limited role. There's still enough to like in Philadelphia on both offense and defense to expect the Eagles to reach 10 wins once again.

McNabb has been much more inconsistent lately than he had been for years before, but he was good enough late in 2008 to put together an at least respectable season. He should benefit from a group of receivers, including Kevin Curtis, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Reggie Brown, that is as intriguing as any with which he has been surrounded. One problem is that the Eagles tight ends, Brent Celek and Matt Schobel, are subpar pass receivers. Still, there's (finally) enough talent at wideout that McNabb should engineer a successful passing offense.

In Westbrook, McNabb also has one of the best receiving running backs in NFL history, as well as a solid, if no longer elite, runner. FB Leonard Weaver is a contributor as well in both the running game and the passing game. My biggest concern about the Eagles offense is the line, which includes Jason Peters, Todd Herremans, Jamaal Jackson, Stacy Andrews and Shawn Andrews.

DE Trent Cole is an underrated member of the Eagles defense, but he'll need to be very good to compensate for weaknesses elsewhere on the line. Victor Abiamiri is the projected starter at the other end spot, and Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley are the first-team tackles. Linebacker is an even bigger question mark, as the next tackle MLB Joe Mays make will be his first in the NFL, and Chris Gocong and Akeem Jordan aren't established starters on the outside, either.

I do love the Eagles at cornerback, where the high-priced but probably worth it Asante Samuel starts opposite Sheldon Brown. Ellis Hobbs, who like Samuel is a former regular in New England, is slated to be the likely nickel back for this deep and talented unit, and Joselio Hanson has also played regularly for the Eagles in the past few seasons. Safeties Quintin Mikell and Quintin Demps round out an elite secondary.


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