NFC East Week 14 Power Rankings: Washington Redskins Surge to Top
For the second consecutive week, the Washington Redskins have moved up a spot in the ongoing yet arbitrary and fairly meaningless list we make in order to give you a feel for where we view all four teams in the NFL's most popular yet least healthy division.
In fact, with the Dallas Cowboys still showing signs of life and the New York Giants now losers of three of four, only one team, the Philadelphia Eagles, are locked into their spot in these rankings and not likely to move between now and the final edition on New Year's Eve.
Here's how the division's four franchises stack up this morning...
1. Washington Redskins (6-6, second last week)
That rookie duo is just so damn good. And while Robert Griffin III did take a few hits against the Giants, it's a fantastic sign that he wasn't sacked once by a defensive front that was lights out only one week prior against Green Bay.
If they gave out awards for coordinator of the year, Kyle Shanahan would be a shoe-in as the winner on the offensive side of the ball. He's gotten the most out of Griffin and Alfred Morris, putting this team in position to make a run at a Lombardi Trophy way sooner than expected.
The defense is still a concern, but it's given up only 17.7 points per game over the last three weeks, and that number would be lower if not for Dallas scoring some garbage-time touchdowns on Thanksgiving. It's not giving up as many big plays and it's getting just enough pressure to survive.
No one seems to be able to slow down this offense, which is the key. Teams have won Super Bowls with bad defenses. The Redskins might not be healthy enough or mature enough to win a championship in 2012, but it's a wide-open race and you'd be crazy to rule out anything right now.
2. New York Giants (7-5, first last week)
Look at the bright side: At this point last season, the G-Men had lost four consecutive games and they still ended up winning the Super Bowl. This team plays best when its back is against the wall, and that'll almost certainly be the case going forward with Washington and Dallas enjoying easier schedules and tiebreaker advantages.
I'm concerned about the lack of consistency, though, which is a big reason why I'm dropping the Giants into the No. 2 spot. The pass rush and the passing game both disappeared a bit Monday night against a mediocre offensive line and a weak secondary. That can't happen.
I still believe in these guys, simply because I'd be crazy not to. Count them out and they'll make you look stupid. That said, it's been a decade since a team has defended its title and the Giants are proving why it's so damn hard to do so.
3. Dallas Cowboys (6-6, third last week)
Beating Philadelphia doesn't convince me that the Cowboys are in a position to make any sort of run. The schedule's easy and the talent is there on offense, which means it's a possibility, but I still think there are too many injuries on defense and this team still lacks the overall consistency required of it in this race.
The key is that Tony Romo is on his freakin' game right now, and DeMarco Murray is back. Dez Bryant is playing the best football of his career and when you have DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer leading the pass rush, anything can happen.
And yes, these still feel like the same old Cowboys, but keep in mind that the secondary's better this year than it has been for quite a while. I refuse to count the 'Boys out just yet, although I do believe they'll fall short of the playoffs for a third straight season.
Where will the Eagles pick in the draft?
4. Philadelphia Eagles (3-9, fourth last week)
To think that with the Kansas City Chiefs winning the Eagles are now only one game out of contention for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft is simply unbelievable. Throw in that the Eagles won their three games—all in September—by a combined four points and it really makes you realize that, despite a decent effort in Dallas Sunday night, this team is one of the league's absolute worst.
I mean, would you have ever guessed three months ago that we'd be sizing up the Eagles in early December and that Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn and Jason Babin would all be gone, and that Nick Foles would be the starting quarterback and Bryce Brown would be the starting running back and Andy Reid, Marty Mornhinweg, Todd Bowles, Michael Vick, Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would be as good as gone? How sad.
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