Stacking up strictly who each team in the NFC East added (ignoring for the most part who they subtracted), I will conclude with why I believe it's a two-team race between the Cowboys and the Giants for 2013.
First, here's the draft picks and the projected changes to the starting line-ups. I will mention some of the depth at positions like TE, WR (particularly with how often Kelly alternates skill players), and DL as these guys make impacts in games.
Dallas Cowboys, 8-8 in 2012: 23.5 PPG scored (15th), 25.0 PPG allowed (24th).
4 projected new starters (2 on offense, 2 on defense):
C Travis Frederick (there may be one or two additional changes on the line, including signing veteran G Bryan Waters)
TE James Hanna (there will likely now be 2 TEs in their base set)
LLB Justin Durant
FS Will Allen
More free agents:
DC Monte Kiffin
DL coach Rod Marinelli
TE Dante Rosario
DE George Selvie
TE Gavin Escobar (2nd round)
WR Terrance Williams (3rd round)
SS J.J. Wilcox (3rd round; Could start soon over Barry Church)
CB B.W. Webb (4th Round)
RB Joseph Randle (Round 5; I like undrafted Missouri RB Kendial Lawrence, and I think Lance Dunbar is ahead of Randle)
OLB DeVonte Holloman (Round 7)
New York Giants, 9-7 in 2012: 26.8 PPG scored (6th) 21.5 PPG allowed (t-12th).
7 projected new starters (3 on offense, 4 on defense):
RB David Wilson
TE Brandon Myers
WR Rueben Randle (there will likely be a lot of 3-WR sets)
RDT Cullen Jenkins
MLB Mark Herzlich
RLB Spencer Paysinger
FS Stevie Brown (made 11 starts last year with 8 picks, but had his first off-season as a starter)
More free agents:
WR Louis Murphy
DT Mike Patterson
LLB Aaron Curry
MLB Dan Connor
LLB Kyle Bosworth
CB Aaron Ross
FS Ryan Mundy
RT Justin Pugh (1st round)
DT Johnathan Hankins (2nd round)
LDE Damontre Moore (3rd round)
QB Ryan Nassib (4th round)
SS Cooper Taylor (5th round)
RT Eric Herman (7th round)
RB Michael Cox (7th round)
Philadelphia Eagles, 4-12 in 2012: 17.5 PPG scored (29th), 27.8 PPG allowed (t-29th).
10 new projected starters (3 on offense, 7 on defense):
WR Riley Cooper
TE Zach Ertz (they will run a lot more 2 and 3 TE formations)
RT Lane Johnson
LDT Cedric Thornton
NT Isaac Sopoaga
RDE Fletcher Cox (9 starts as a RDT last season, but first off-season at the top of the depth chart)
LOLB Connor Barwin
LCB Bradley Fletcher
RCB Cary Williams
FS Patrick Chung
More free agents:
Head coach Chip Kelly
OC Pat Shurmur
DC Bill Davis
DT Isaac Sopoaga
OLB Jason Phillips
SS Kenny Phillips
TE James Casey
RB Felix Jones
P Donnie Jones
DT Bennie Logan (3rd round)
QB Matt Barkley (4th round)
FS Earl Wolff (Round 5)
DE Joe Kruger (Round 7)
CB Jordan Poyer (Round 7)
DE David King (Round 7)
P Brad Wing (UDFA, could push for punter job)
WR Russell Shepard (UDFA, but may be used on offense and returns)
Washington Redskins, 10-6 in 2012: 27.2 PPG scored (4th), 24.2 PPG allowed (22nd).
4 projected new starters (all on defense):
LDE Jarvis Jenkins
RILB Perry Riley
SS Brandon Meriweather
FS Bacarri Rambo
More free agents:
DT Ron Brace
DE Daryl Tapp
OLB Nick Barnett
CB E.J. Biggers
WR Devery Henderson
WR Donte' Stallworth
T Jeremy Trueblood
CB David Amerson (2nd round)
TE Jordan Reed (3rd round)
SS Phillip Thomas (4th round)
RB Chris Thompson (5th round)
RB Jawan Jamison (7th round)
The Redskins got some decent OL depth in UDFAs C Tevita Stevens and OT Xavier Nixon, yet they are still running third string.
PREDICTION: I want to first acknowledge that - while I am not one of those dudes who takes pride in his division - the NFC East's impending return to prominence will be due in part to Robert Griffin III, Mike Shanahan, Chip Kelly, and Michael Vick (or Nick Foles). I believe Chip Kelly edged out both Marc Trestman and Andy Reid as the best coaching hire of the off-season (grading them based on the entire staffs), and his teams will be competitive for years to come.
Now, let me summarily karate chop each of those two teams - Redskins and Eagles - out of the competition for this year. First of all, the Eagles defense has been in shambles for years. Adding guys like Isaac Sopoaga, Patrick Chung, Connor Barwin and Cary Williams maybe keeps them from the depths and mires of the Jaguars and Bills defenses, but does not create an intimidating force (Cary Williams admitted in an interview that he and Brian Dawkins think the defense is soft). While I'm very high on the Eagles offense in the long term and even the short, the defense is not good enough to win this division. Chip Kelly looks to have gone to the Pete Carroll School of Roster Turnover, so they could surprise given the level of uncertainty (and I don't read much into bad preseason defense when the play-calls are vanilla), but the Eagles gave up as many points as the Jaguars did, while scoring fewer points than the Jets. It hasn't turned around enough in one off-season.
As for the Redskins, this was Year 2 of no 1st-round draft pick and Year 1 of the salary cap penalties in relation to the locked-out 2011 off-season. The Redskins did as much as they could given the circumstances, but they are still starting one of the few corners to get burned nearly as often as Cary Williams was last season, DeAngelo Hall. Given the strength of their defensive line and linebackers, I don't think their defense is straight-up terrible. However, this division has three impressive aerial attacks which are poor match-ups for a Redskins defense starting Bacarri Rambo (0 starts) and Brandon Meriweather (3rd team in 3 seasons) at safety. The Redskins 10-6 record was inflated a bit by the injuries and chaos happening with the Cowboys and Eagles, as well as the Redskins only having one of their final 10 games against an opponent who made the postseason.
One of the more vital factors in most title runs is health. While Kelly's practice and diet routine may test whether superior conditioning leads to a less lengthy injury report, the real story is who the Cowboys will return.
MLB Sean Lee, DT Jay Ratliff and DE DeMarcus Ware are all coming back healthy after all having injury-filled campaigns.
The Cowboys defense looks stout and physical. I'm banking on the offensive line being improved this year, but I am starting to question if they made enough moves (apparently, Jerry is, too, with the offers to Brandon Moore and Bryan Waters). The main thing I like about both sides of the ball for the Cowboys is that almost every key player is both in their prime (Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware, Morris Claiborne) and is a playmaker. I don't expect Jay Ratliff or Jason Witten to tail off this year. They are very deep at WR, and new OC Bill Callahan will better use Dwayne Harris, and Cole Beasley to their abilities, while mixing in Williams, Hanna, and Escobar. Essentially, the Cover 2 and a TE-heavy offense were great moves to a team that would have won the division last year if not for injuries. The O-line will decide whether this is a Super Bowl contender or just a team that competes for the NFC East.
More than any team in the East, New York cleaned up in the draft and free agency. I'm tellin' ya. It's hard to find holes on the Giants team. They made the single best free agent TE acquisition (ironically, the Bears getting former Giant Bennett is second-best, followed by the Dolphins signing Dustin Keller and the Rams signing Jared Cook). They got younger and faster at RB, WR and LB. They were in pursuit of defensive line, and they still have leaders carrying over from last year on both sides of the ball.
The secondary has been abused, but that has generally coincided with "cooling off" periods in defensive line play. I see this defensive line as being top 5 this season, and it will help out the playmaking if suspect secondary. I'm biased about the back-ups they added, because Aaron Curry is my favorite player in the NFL. He can shed the bust label if given a chance, and is a great locker room guy, as is Dan Connor.
In closing, the Redskins will take a step back with a tougher schedule. During their 7-game win sprint to take the East, they had 5 games against injury-riddled teams who ended up overhauling their coaching staffs after the season (Cowboys 2X, Eagles 2X, Browns). I see the secondary really being too experienced to handle being left on an island the way defensive coordinator Jim Haslett often leaves them. 2-4 in the division (1-1 vs. Cowboys, Skins), beating the Raiders, Chiefs, and Chargers away from the division to finish 5-11.
The Eagles will fare a little better. I see them as 2-4 in the division as well, splitting with the Skins and Giants. I see them going 3-1 vs. AFC West opponents, too, but they will actually win two of their other games outside of their division: at the Buccaneers, vs. the Lions (I have the Lions sneaking in as a Wild Card over the Falcons). 7-9 is a good start for Chip Kelly's revolution.
Now to the New York Giants. I think they'll lose one to the Eagles and two close finishes to the Cowboys to go 3-3 in the division, 3-1 vs. AFC West. Outside, I see three definite wins: at the Panthers, at the Bears, at the Lions. This schedule is tough, though. Gilbride is the kind of offensive mind that could crack Kiffin's Cover 2. I see 9-7, but I'm hoping I'm wrong. They have the offense and pass rush to take both from Dallas, and they could beat Minnesota (a semi-Cover 2 defense) and Green Bay. That would take them to 13-3, which is their best-case scenario (they play both my projected Super Bowl winner, the Seahawks, and runner-up Broncos).
As for the Cowboys, I see 11-5, 5-1 in the division, 6-4 outside of it.
What do you think? Who did the most in the off-season for 2012 and for the future? Does Romo take the next step?