On the final weekend of the regular season last year, every NFC East team except Philadelphia had a chance at the playoffs and three of the five teams finished with 9-7 records.
The winner of this division? How about parity?
The Washington Redskins (11-5), two-time defending division champions, have experience on their side, although there are serious questions concerning the offensive line and secondary.
With center Jeff Bostic unable to return from knee surgery before the seventh game of the season, the offensive line could be thin, although the acquisition of former all-pro guard R.C. Thielemann from Atlanta could help prevent another Chicago-style collapse.
The running game appears better than ever with John Riggins, George Rogers and Keith Griffin, and the receiving corps may be without peer.
The defensive line looks good enough to repeat its success against the run (second in the league), but Tony Peters' return to 1982 form is imperative if the secondary is to improve on the 235.8 passing yards per game it yielded.
The title hopes of the St. Louis Cardinals (9-7) rest on the arm of Neil Lomax, who in his fourth season passed for 4,614 yards (second to Dan Marino). The Cardinals need to find a receiver after Roy Green (78 catches for 1,555 yards) and Pat Tilley (52 catches for 758 yards).
The defense that led the league in sacks two years ago (59) had 55 in 1984, and appears capable of being even better. If there are no injuries, E.J. Junior will be able to stay put at middle linebacker, where he belongs, allowing rookie Freddie Joe Nunn to develop outside.
A healthy Phil Simms turned the New York Giants' (9-7) season around with 4,044 passing yards, and if his young offensive line gets better as it matures, the Giants' playoff spot this season may not be the wild card.
Before the draft, 22 New York players were first- or second-year players. Expect a few more newcomers, especially in the running game. No. 1 draft pick George Adams and Maurice Carthon of the USFL may start this season now that Butch Woolfolk has been traded to Houston.
Linebacker Lawrence Taylor probably already has a plane ticket for his fifth Pro Bowl. One of the Giants' main hurdles is the legacy of, well, being the Giants. The team has not had consecutive winning seasons since 1962-63.
For the Dallas Cowboys (9-7) to return to the playoffs after missing them for the first time in a decade, the offensive line must regroup, someone will have to emerge to catch the ball and Danny White will have to rely on all his savvy.
The fact that so many players do not want to stay in Philadelphia says a lot about the chances of the Eagles (6-9-1). Once thought to be on the rise, the Eagles have had their wings clipped by new owner Norman Braman, who has refused to honor the renegotiated contracts of a few veterans.