Notes from the North
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With the Olympics still in the way, I'm having problems focusing on the upcoming NFL season.

I've been trying to catch up on all the coverage in the media assessing the teams as they head into training camps, on the new rookies with their first NFL teams, on the old players in new situations, on the biggest story lines of the new season.

But I can't help feeling that two moves will have the biggest impact on the league and the teams involved. One of them, Peyton Manning going to Denver, everybody is talking about.

The second one, well, it's not getting so much exposure. I'm talking about DeMeco Ryans joining the Eagles at middle linebacker.

I think Ryans is going to make a huge difference for Philly, solidifying the middle linebacker position on an already talented squad. He brings power, speed and experience to the team and should make the players around him even better.

In fact, if Mike Vick and that amazing Eagles offensive team can stay healthy this year, I'm betting Ryans helps Philadelphia get over the hump and dominate the NFC East this year. His presence makes the Eagles a true contender for the Conference title this year and the Super Bowl.

Bold words, maybe. But I just don't see the Giants carrying their Championship momentum very far this season, nor do I see the Cowboys breaking out as their window of opportunity starts to close.

It looks like RGIII will bring a lot of talent and excitement to Washington but his supporting cast is nothing like Vick and Ryans enjoy in Philadelphia.

If there's a key to this season for the Eagles, it's the health of Mike Vick. There's a huge drop from Vick to backups Vince Young and Mike Kafka so Philly has to keep their starter on his feet and in the game.

But Ryans' ability to settle into the middle on that strong Eagles defense will also be a key factor. He has the ability to make a very good defense an elite defense and that might make all the difference for Philadelphia.

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