Are the Philadelphia Eagles early NFC East favorites?

It has been a whirlwind offseason that has recently quieted down as the draft came complete and the roster has taken a little bit more shape.

As the focus turns toward the upcoming season, which will begin in less than three months with the Eagles first preseason game on Aug. 16, it also turns to early looks at what the finalized roster will be, projections of the season's wins and losses, and of course predictions on the division standings.

Are the Philadelphia Eagles early favorites to win the NFC East. Michael Irvin thinks so, and I agree.

The result may be the same, but the reasoning is different.

Irvin's leading reason the Eagles are favorites in the NFC East is the addition of DeMarco Murray and his departure from the Dallas Cowboys. Truth be told, Murray was a dominant piece to the Cowboys puzzle last season and a prime reason that they were NFC East champions last season.

I, however, look at the Eagles additions on defense as the reason they will be NFC East champions.

No, the Eagles upgrades throughout the defense – from Kiko Alonso at linebacker to the various pieces in the secondary like Byron Maxwell, Eric Rowe and Walter Thurmond – do not make them a dominant defense or a championship team. 

However, it's important to look at improvements for what they are. The Eagles struggled mightily with Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. They acquired pieces that seem to fit Chip Kelly's system in a way that would make the defense more successful.

It may be on paper, but it's worth the excitement.

A lot of focus is drawn toward the offense. Yes, Sam Bradford's health is a big part of the Eagles pending success. So is the performance of Murray following a season where he was worked heavier than any running back in football. So too will be the results from second-year wide receiver Jordan Matthews and rookie Nelson Agholor.

But the Eagles offense shouldn't be the concern, just like it wasn't the concern when Nick Foles was inserted for Michael Vick or when LeSean McCoy couldn't get going this past season or when the Eagles struggled to find a wide receiver that could shoulder the load or additional wide receivers to spread the ball around.

Defense was always the Achilles heel. Chip Kelly started to right the ship in that regard with Malcolm Jenkins, who proved to be a solid signing. It's hard to argue with the development of the front seven either.

Secondary was always the tipping point. And it was where the Eagles put all their focus in the draft.

When ranked against the rest of the division, there isn't one team that truly stands out above the Eagles. The Cowboys might be on a level playing field. The Giants and Redskins are still trying to build their teams to become contenders.

So that leaves the Eagles, a team that has constantly made changes while trying to stay competitive. If it's broken, they fix it. If it isn't working, they try something else. And that constant evolution is what makes the Eagles so dangerous. 

The Eagles are impossible to predict. The wheels are always turning in Chip Kelly's mind. And yes, while there are many factors that could disrupt the Eagles or send their season crashing into pieces, there is always the chance that something from out of nowhere surprises.

In the first season, a division title in 2013, it was the emergence of Foles and McCoy's stellar season. 

Who knows what surprises are in store for the Eagles in 2015. But whatever they are, they are sure to make a difference, and may just be the thing that puts the Eagles above the rest of the NFC East.

Kevin Durso is a contributing writer and editorial assistant for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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