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The Eagles might seem like a lock to repeat as division champs, something no NFC East has done in six years. But it won't be easy given the resurgent Cowboys' favorable slate, with nine of their first 12 games coming against teams that had a losing record in 2010. The Cowboys were 6--10 last year, but that doesn't tell the story of their 1--7 start and 5--3 finish. When they host the Eagles on Christmas Eve in Week 16, it might well settle the standings. Philly's biggest challenge will be finding a rhythm: Four of its first six games are on the road, followed by a bye week, then a 10-week gantlet that includes four division games and four playoff teams from a year ago.

The Redskins open with the Giants, then have the Cowboys in Week 3 and the Eagles in Week 6, by which time it should be clear where the Skins stand. New York has fizzled late in each of the last two seasons, and its final seven opponents—the Eagles, Saints, Packers, Redskins and Jets, and the Cowboys twice, including a Week 17 showdown at Dallas that could determine a playoff berth—won't make this season any easier.

Eight great matchups involving NFC East teams

WEEK 1 at Sunday, Sept. 11

Rex Ryan has guaranteed victory against Dallas, which employs his twin brother, Rob, as the defensive coordinator.

WEEK 8 at Sunday, Oct. 30

Referring to an "all-hype team," Rob Ryan vowed to "beat their ass when we play them." He gets a shot at Philly in Sunday-night prime time.

WEEK 10 at Sunday, Nov. 13

Kevin Kolb's no Michael Vick, but for one week he can make the Eagles rethink their decision to demote and later trade him.

WEEK 11 at Sunday, Nov. 20

Wideout Steve Smith, who spent four years with the Giants, should be back from knee surgery in time to run against his old mates.

WEEK 12 at Sunday, Nov. 27

Free agents reportedly took less to play for Philly—kind of like another franchise that will be at Lincoln Financial Field this week.

WEEK 13 at Sunday, Dec. 4

The Giants will be out for revenge: They won 10 games last year but missed the postseason when Green Bay thumped them in Week 16.

WEEK 14 at Sunday, Dec. 11

Assuming Albert Haynesworth is healthy, Skins fans might finally get a chance to see what made the defensive tackle a two-time All-Pro.

WEEK 16 at Saturday, Dec. 24

New Jet Plaxico Burress, a Giants Super Bowl hero, will be out to make his old team wish it had tried harder to bring him back.



TONY ROMO, Cowboys