The NFC East is already playing out; the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles are contending for the title. But as John Clayton says in a recent article, "Everyone is going to be talking up the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, but don't forget the Redskins."
With the additions of Albert Haynesworth and Brian Orakpo, the Redskins' defensive line will offer a fierce pass rush in 2009. As Clark Judge points out about Haynesworth, "he is the best defensive tackle out there, and the Redskins are better—maybe a whole lot better—with him."
The Redskins also resigned DeAngelo Hall, a playmaker that has the ability to hang with any receiver in the league. While some believe that Washington gave up too much to get him back, his play during the second half of last season justified it. He's still one of the best cover corners in the league.
Some experts believe the Redskins concentrated too much on defense this offseason, but look no further than last year's Steelers for the product of a great defense. Championships can be won with great defenses, even if the offense is mediocre (see the 2000 Ravens).
This defense will surprise a lot of people in 2009. Not only will it be the best defense in the division, it will also compete with the Steelers to be the best defense in the NFL.
The Redskins' offense will also offer up a few surprises this season. Some are predicting doom and gloom, but the offense will be much better than it fared in 2008. Into the second season of Jim Zorn's offense, players will be ready to make plays rather than concentrating on learning schemes.
Jason Campbell will be motivated to prove himself this year, and he definitely has the talent to do it. He will be ready to take more chances, and with his hesitancy gone, big plays are in the future.
Receiver Devin Thomas is ready for a breakthrough year, and with another downfield threat, the passing game will once again open up. Opponents will no longer be able to load the box to stop the running game, and Clinton Portis should be ready for another great year.
Looking at games within the division, the Redskins should be able to match well with the Giants. Look for a split, with the home team taking their matchup between the two.
The Redskins swept the Eagles last season, and indications are that this season will be no different. The Eagles are probably worse on defense with the subtraction of Brian Dawkins.
And the Cowboys—addition by subtraction? How can they possibly be better without Terrell Owens? I'm not sold on Roy Williams being a major downfield threat. Look for the Redskins to have a chance to sweep them as well.
When it all plays out, the Redskins will shock the league by standing atop its toughest division.