Of the NFL's eight divisions, the NFC East might be the toughest to predict. Everyone loves the Bengals in the AFC North, and most reasonable people can agree that the Seahawks or the 49ers will top the NFC West. But in the East, you can make a case for the Giants, Eagles, Cowboys or Redskins.
Some scenarios are more likely than others, but Washington was 10-6 a season ago, New York was 9-7 and Dallas was 8-8. And with Philly's new up-tempo offense, the Eagles will be better than their 4-12 mark.
Not surprisingly, Redskins general manager Bruce Allen hopes the team can improve on last year's improbable finish, one that began with a 3-6 start and coach Mike Shanahan sounding like he had given up on the season. Instead, Washington ripped off seven straight wins and made the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
“There's so many changes in the playoff teams each year -- I think half of them change each year anyway,” Allen said during a recent interview ESPN 980 (via the Washington Post). “And in our division, you know, we're in the SEC of the NFL. This is the big leagues. I think when the Giants last won the Super Bowl, they won it with a 9-7 record. So we have to keep competing in our division, and that's what our focus is.
“And if we can hold our ground in the division, we're going to be OK, because they are elite teams in our division,” Allen said. “That's where our focus has to remain. We were successful [last year] -- 5-1 in the division -- and that leads to good things. I think once again the young talent that we have on the team, they tasted success. As long as they're not spoiled by that little bit of success, then it bodes well for our future.”
And then there's this:
And before you say, "EVERY TEAM SAYS THAT BEFORE THE SEASON!" we know. We don't have a problem with it. Plus, reporters who heard those words leave Shanahan's mouth have offered some context.
FYI: When Mike Shanahan said "anything short of a super bowl is a failure" he was referring to standards set by prev WR teams & HOFers— John Keim (@john_keim) August 23, 2013
So there's that. And there's also this: Allen was asked about owner Dan Snyder's role in football operations. Before Allen and Shanahan arrived, Snyder was known for overpaying free agents and fielding some underachieving teams.
"I find [the stories of Snyder] hard to believe, because of the Dan Snyder that we've gotten to know since we've been here," Allen said. "He's been 100 percent supportive. He does want to know what we're doing. He's one of our greatest supporters and eager to do things."
In case you're wondering, CBSSports.com's John Breech and Pete Prisco both have the 'Skins going 9-7 this season.