The Eagles had more wins last year than any two other division rivals combined and they've lost just two division games in the last three seasons (one of those was a meaningless Week 17 game). Lots of people are ready to write off the Birds, but they might be in better shape than last season, when they had to adjust to a new pair of cornerbacks. The Giants, Redskins and Cowboys all have improved aspects of their teams, but none of that will matter if they can't get it together against the Eagles.
2. Will Terrell Owens play for the Eagles?
T.O.'s potential holdout has dominated the headlines all summer. The bottom line is the Eagles have a lot to gain by having Owens in uniform -- Todd Pinkston and Greg Lewis got them to the Super Bowl last year after Owens went down with an injury, but they aren't good enough to get the Eagles through a whole season . And Owens needs the Eagles -- for one thing, he's not even a free agent, so what leverage does he really have. And this organization has proven its perfectly willing to play hardball with players. Owens seemed very happy in Philly last year -- a rarity for the constantly complaining receiver. The most recent set of T.O. quotes seem to imply he's softening his stance and will find a way to report without shortchanging his enormous pride.
3. Are Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells committed for the long haul?
Both are coming off disappointing seasons, which has led many to speculate they will retire if they don't turn around their franchises in 2005. The Redskins' Gibbs is 64 and the Cowboys' Parcells will hit that age during the preseason. Gibbs, who underwent a procedure on a clogged artery in his heart this offseason, says he wants to coach until the end of his contract in '09. Parcells' contract runs out after the '06 season, and last year there were whispers in Dallas he wasn't totally into his job. Parcells seems rededicated this season, but he may lose steam after a few losses.
4. Will Giants QB Eli Manning improve in his second season?
Manning's first five starts came against Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore and Pittsburgh -- four of the top 10 defenses in the NFL. So don't judge the second-year QB too harshly for last season's struggles. Manning reportedly has shown a new level of confidence in training camp, and he has better targets this season. Plaxico Burress, even with his flaws, is a step up at No. 1 wide receiver, and tight end Jeremy Shockey should report to training camp in excellent shape and may actually stay healthy.