In the always tough NFC East, 2009 is looking like another season in which any one, two, or three of the teams could make the playoffs.
For the Washington Redskins, 2009 is looking like another season in which every game will be a battle, the record will see-saw back and forth, and their chances for the playoffs will come down to the final few weeks of the regular season.
Coming off an 8-8 year in which the entire team was thoroughly unimpressive in the final eight games, the Redskins started to address the situation on the first night of free agency by signing Albert Haynesworth to a mammoth contract to fill the gap at defensive tackle.
The team also brought back offensive lineman Derrick Dockery, a former Redskin who signed a lucrative deal with the Buffalo Bills in 2007.
While the team did address a number of issues in the offseason, Redskins fans can expect another .500 season, give or take a game. There are a number of factors, however, which could swing the team to or from the playoff picture throughout the season.
The Redskins spent three second-round picks in last year's draft on pass catchers, none of which showed up at all last season.
Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, and Fred Davis have all had their own issues, be it with faulty conditioning, faulty work ethic, or faulty alarm clocks.
If one of the wide receivers can step up and Davis, a tight end, can be a positive complement to Chris Cooley, that will significantly help Jason Campbell.
Speaking of the signal-caller, he is entering his second year in the same offensive system for the first time in his NFL career.
There were many concerns about his accuracy after a tough second half last year, so much so that the team first tried to trade for Jay Cutler from the Broncos, and then tried to trade up in the draft to select USC's Mark Sanchez.
Neither went through, and it could pay off for Daniel Snyder and the 'Skins if Campbell settles down and returns to the form that made him a first-round pick in 2005.
One main hole that could be the demise of the Redskins, however, is the offensive line. The age and lack of speed were glaring this past season, and the team did not use any of its draft picks on any offensive line position.
The return of Derrick Dockery should provide a spark, but veterans like Chris Samuels, Casey Rabach, and Jon Jansen, who could lose his job to Stephon Heyer, will need to step up their game if Jason Campbell wants to have time to go through his progressions.
Switching over to the defensive side of the ball, the obvious addition is that of the aforementioned Albert Haynesworth, who should be a terror for teams trying to run the ball up the middle of the field.
It'll also be interesting to see if DeAngelo Hall, who the team resigned to a larger deal this offseason, will be as effective as he was in his brief stint with the team last season.
The team spent its first round pick, 13th overall, to draft Brian Orakpo out of Texas. He has looked sharp at rookie camp, and some are predicting that he could accumulate double-digit sacks in his rookie year.
He fell into a great situation getting to play alongside Haynesworth, so look for him to come in and be effective right away.
The potential for a solid year is there for the Washington Redskins, now it seems to only be a matter of some breaks going the team's way. If so, you could very well see this team come playoff time.