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Eagles Look to Keep Their Strong Reputation Intact in a Tough NFC East

Andrew ChampiContributor IMay 18, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 11:  Quarterback Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles scrambles in the pocket during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the New York Giants on January 11, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The Eagles defeated the Giants 23-11. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

It has been five years since arguably the NFL's toughest division has gone without seeing multiple teams make the playoffs, and in 2009 the NFC East will look to lock up three playoff spots in their conference for the third time in the last four seasons.

With a combined 11 Super Bowl Championships spread out among the division's four storied programs, there is one team that has yet to see their dream season come to fruition despite getting an extremely potent taste in the past few seasons of what that dream would taste like.

When healthy, the Philadelphia Eagles have been consistent winners making the playoffs seven out of nine times since 2000. And they've done so playing in the brutally physical NFC East. With the division primed for another excellent run in 2009, the Eagles will have their work cut out for them.

The Redskins continue to spend money, but are still looking for that deep playoff run they have been missing since their last Super Bowl run during the 1991-1992 season. The Giants, the most recent NFC East Super Bowl winner, are back again with their strong running attack and excellent pass rushing defense.

The T.O.-less Cowboys are looking to strengthen their locker room cohesiveness and Jerry Jones' team may be looking at a "Super Bowl or Bust" type season. This leaves the Eagles as one of the dark-horses to take hold of the division in 2009.

With their most vocal leader taking off for new success in Denver and Lito Shepard departing to the Jets, the Eagles return just two starters from the secondary with Sheldon Brown not wanting to be there due to contract issues.

This puts a lot of pressure on pro-bowl cornerback Asante Samuel to carry the load in the secondary. With Tony Romo, Eli Manning, and the slowly improving arm of Jason Campbell leading the opposing offenses in the passing game, the Eagles secondary will be tested early and often in 2009.

One can only imagine if the Redskins added Jay Cutler to a quarterback corpse of Romo, Manning, and Donovan McNabb in the NFC East.

However, the constants the Eagles have returning on the offensive side outweigh the departures on the defensive side. Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and Andy Reid will most likely stick with their balanced attacked and use Westbrook as a receiver out of the backfield to continue to disassemble defenses from Arizona to Washington.

Even with the defense losing some integral parts, blitz-happy Jim Johnson will continue to dial up pass rushes that will give opposing quarterbacks nightmares in order to aide his less experienced secondary.

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With the additions of the explosive Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and talented Pittsburgh running back LaSean McCoy, the Eagles have the utilities to make another NFC Championship Game run providing they stay healthy.

With the much criticized, yet proven leaders, Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid at the forefront, look for the Eagles to be yet another dangerous team coming out of the NFC East in 2009.

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