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Looking ahead: NFC East

I gave you a glimpse at the 2008 season in the NFC South yesterday, which was the worst division in the conference in 2007. So today I figured it was only fitting to give you a 2008 preview of the NFC's best division from 2007 – the NFC East.

The Dallas Cowboys won the division with a 13-3 record, but the New York Giants went 10-6 and upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. The Washington Redskins also made the playoffs with a 9-7 record. Philadelphia finished in last place in the division, but still finished with a .500 record at 8-8.

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Despite losing 21-17 to the Giants in the second round of the playoffs, the Cowboys will be led by Tony Romo, Terrell Owens, Marion Barber and others as they compete for the division championship again in 2008. In my opinion, they are the team to beat in the division, even though the Giants won the Super Bowl.

Speaking of the Giants, they return all of the key players that helped them defeat the Patriots, so they'll likely be competitive in the NFC again in 2008. Washington and Philadelphia will make sure that the NFC East remains among the toughest divisions in the NFL.

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We all know that veterans like Brian Westbrook and Clinton Portis will have big seasons in 2008, but wouldn't you like to know about some other players who could have good seasons? The following four players could be solid fantasy contributors in 2008, so it will be interesting to monitor their performances as the preseason creeps closer.

Sam Hurd, Dallas Cowboys, WR – Hurd played in all 16 games for the Cowboys in 2007 and had 19 catches for 314 yards and a touchdown. His lone touchdown came on a 51-yard reception in Week 1 against the Giants. He'll be a free agent following the upcoming season, so it will be interesting to see if his statistics improve as he attempts to position himself for a big payday on the open market.

Kevin Boss, New York Giants, TE – After Jeremy Shockey broke his leg in Week 15 against the Redskins, the Giants seemed to be headed for disaster without a significant tight end for their stretch run. However, Boss showed that he is capable of becoming a solid option for the Giants in the future. He had four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown against New England in the final game of the regular season. It's likely that he'll be Shockey's backup in 2008, but watch the situation throughout the summer because a lot can happen between now and the beginning of the 2008 season.

Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles, TE – There's a lot of speculation on whether L.J. Smith will return to the Eagles or not. He's an unrestricted free agent, but the team could use the franchise tag on him. However, they may feel that Celek is ready to become the starting tight end and allow Smith to leave. Celek performed well in limited action in 2007. He had 16 catches for 178 yards and picked up his first NFL touchdown in the final week of the season against Buffalo. If Celek is able to become the starter, then he would be an average option at tight end in most fantasy leagues.

Ladell Betts, Washington Redskins, RB – While Betts isn't going to be a starting option at running back in 2008, it's important to keep an eye on his situation heading into 2008. Betts only ran for 335 yards as a backup in 2007 after picking up 1,154 yards in 2006. If he could get some significant playing time, then he'd be a great fantasy selection. Unfortunately, he'll be a backup as long as Portis remains the starter in Washington. Keep your eye on Betts in case the new head coach – whoever it may be – decides to split the carries between the two running backs.


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