Antrel Rolle: Defending champion Eagles not the NFC East favorites, division was 'weak' last year

EAST RUTHERFORD -- The Philadelphia Eagles are 4-1 and the defending NFC East champions. Giants safety Antrel Rolle doesn't seem to care.

In his eyes, the Eagles are on par with the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins. Despite their current record or past accomplishment, they're not the NFC East favorites. They were the beneficiary of a down year in the division.

"No," Rolle answered when asked if the Eagles were the team to beat in the division. "We just try to go out and play. We're just trying to make sure that we come out on top of our division this year.

"Last year is last year. I don't feel like there was much to really battle with last year in our division. I felt like it was a weak division last year. I feel like this year it's definitely up and rising. We didn't get a lot of credit in the preseason in our division, but I think now the tables are starting to turn a little bit. Dallas is playing good, Philly is playing good right now. I think we're rising and we're stepping up to the challenges and we're playing some good football right now."

There is truth to Rolle's claim that the NFC East was weak last season. The division combined to finish with a 28-36 record. Only the Eagles (10-6) had a winning record.

This year the division is off to a strong start. They are a combined 12-7. The Giants (3-2) and Cowboys (4-1) have joined the Eagles above .500. It should make for a much more competitive December.

"Everyone in the division is the team to beat," cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "Any given thing can happen when you have a division game."

The Eagles already played a thriller against Washington. The Giants blew out the Redskins the following week.

Coming into the season, the Eagles were the favorites in the division according to the Las Vegas odds. The Giants were longshots. Rolle never questioned whether his team was good enough to hang with the Eagles.

"I think you know the answer to that question," he said. "I never doubt. I never doubt."

The Giants have two key contests upcoming -- at Philadelphia and at Dallas. They know it's not going to be easy. The Eagles and Cowboys are a combined 8-2 right now.

"Philadelphia obviously has all kind of numbers. They'e played extremely well. Arguably they could be undefeated right now. We know what that challenge is about," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It's exciting. We look forward to it. We always do."

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