The NFC East isn't inspiring anyone with Super Bowl thoughts right now, but it's a division that's up for grabs, with any of the four teams haveing a chance to win it and host a playoff game in January. Let's take a brief snapshot look at how the race is shaping up…
NY Giants (4-2): They're leading the pack right now, the only division team with a winning record, but it's hard to see them as a true frontrunner. They can still rush the passer, but pass coverage has been an issue and Eli Manning remains as unpredictable as any quarterback out there. Most alarming is that the trademark running game hasn't been punishing people. The Giants have a home date with Miami this week, but after they go to 5-2, the next six games includes road trips to New England, New Orleans, Dallas and San Francisco, along with home dates against Green Bay and Philadelphia. If they aren't running the ball effectively, even going 3-3 in that stretch is going to be optimistic.
Dallas (3-3): The run defense has been stout and while the secondary is still a big concern, Demarcus Ware cures a lot of ills in pass defense. The running game had been a problem, although we'll have to see if Demarco Murray's breakout game against St. Louis can sustain itself against quality opposition. Ultimately the problem is that no one has any confidence in Tony Romo in a tight game. Which means that on a week-to-week basis the Cowboys are as danagerous as anyone, but over the long haul they'll lose too many games they should win.
Washington (3-3): Optimism after the 3-1 start has dimmed and the reality sets in that after the opening day win over the Giants, the 'Skins have only narrow victories over Arizona and St. Louis and the defense regressed badly against Carolina, not only failing against Cam Newton, but allowing the Panthers to control the point of attack. The quarterback controversy is back and Mike Shanahan's team needs to win now to stop the bleeding. Over the next five weeks the schedule is manageable, and Washington needs to find a way to win three of those five if they want to be competitive and four of five if they want to win the NFC East, given that the Patriots and Jets are on the December docket.
Philadelphia (2-4): If the Eagles can get some consistency in the conventional running game they can be a legitimate threat to rally in the second half of the season. This offense moves the ball very well between the 20s, but you can't throw it in all the time, nor can you rely on Michael Vick running it in. That means LeSean McCoy has to do the job, and while he's done it in spurts, the Birds need more consistency. Three straight home games against Dallas, Chicago and Arizona mean that right now is must-win time for Andy Reid's crew.
At the start of the season I went with the consensus choice of the Eagles, albeit with the caveat that I thought Super Bowl talk was way overblown. Now I'll reverse gears a bit and say that I expect the Eagles to get on a nice little run, enough to produce a 10-6 record that will be enough to take first place. Actually that's not me reversing gears it all, it just feels like that even though my opinion of the team is the same, the view has gone from pessimistic to optimistic in a few short weeks.