Before the 2012 NFL season, if you had taken an informal poll as to the toughest division in the National Football League, it's likely that the NFC East would have gotten more than a few votes, as no fewer than three teams in the division entered this year with aspirations of traveling to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII.
However, as is often the case in the NFL, things haven't gone according to the script, and through six weeks this season only one team in the division has won more games than it's lost.
The defending Super Bowl champions are holding up their end of the deal. The New York Giants are all alone atop the NFC East at 4-2 and coming off their biggest win of the year after trouncing the San Francisco 49ers in a rematch of last year's NFC championship game.
The Giants dominated San Francisco in every aspect of the game after head coach Tom Coughlin said earlier in the week that "nobody gives us a chance." After the game San Francisco cornerback Carlos Rogers said the outcome sent a clear message as to who remains king of the hill in the NFL (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle).
"I just think coaches always let us know that we aren't the kings of the NFL," Rogers said. "The Giants are."
With that said, the Giants' two losses this season have come at the hands of divisional foes, with the first coming on opening night against the Dallas Cowboys.
After that 24-17 victory in New York, it appeared that the Cowboys were set to be major players in the division this season. However, since that big win the team has looked out of sync more often than not, managing only a sloppy win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in four tries.
That sloppiness again cost the Cowboys in a two-point loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 6, where bad clock management at the end of the game cost the team dearly, although team owner Jerry Jones tried to put a positive spin on things, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
I’m sick about losing this game. I feel good about this team. Even though we’re 2-3, I feel good about the way we held up, stayed in there, fought, the way we did some things, executed, the way our offensive line played. There are some things I really feel good about our future with, our future being this year.
Things aren't going much better in the City of Brotherly Love. Granted, the Philadelphia Eagles are sitting at .500 through six games, but they're the ugliest 3-3 team in recent memory of the National Football League.
The Eagles are far and away the leaders in the NFL in a very unflattering statistical category, having turned the ball over five more times than the next closest NFC team, which just so happens to be the aforementioned Cowboys.
However, it was defensive coordinator Juan Castillo that took the fall for the team's overtime loss to the Detroit Lions last week. After the team was once again unable to pressure the quarterback, Castillo was given his walking papers on Tuesday, according to Nate Davis of USA Today, who relayed Andy Reid's official statement:
I want to make it clear that I have nothing but the ultimate respect for Juan Castillo as a coach and as a person. He's one of the finest football coaches that I have ever worked with. He has served this organization extremely well for 18 years and letting him go was a difficult decision. [But] we're six games into the season and average isn't good enough. I know the potential of our team and insist on maximizing it.
Potential may well be the best word to describe the Washington Redskins, as the immense potential of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III has helped to both capture the attention of football fans everywhere and propel the Redskins to a 3-3 record through six games.
That's about as good as anyone dared hope at this point in the 2012 campaign, and while the injuries that have devastated Washington's defense will probably prevent the team from making a postseason run, there's ample reason for optimism in the nation's capital moving forward.
Things can change very quickly in the National Football League, and given the amount of talent on some of these teams, a club like the Eagles or Cowboys could turn things around fairly rapidly.
However, as things stand right now, the NFC East, a division that everyone thought would be a dogfight this season between a trio of rock-solid teams, is quickly devolving into the Giants, two screw-ups and a rebuilding team on the rise.
Meanwhile, three of the four teams in the NFC West are 4-2.
Yet another sign of the Mayan apocalypse, if you ask me.