With the Giants' win over the Bills on Sunday, paired with the Redskins' loss to the Eagles, the G-men are the new division leaders, a half-game ahead of Washington. The Cowboys and Eagles round out the division at 2-3 and 2-4, respectively.
Six weeks in, the division is still there for the taking; let's predict how the NFC East will break down.
Ahmad Bradshaw flexed his muscles last week and solidified himself as the Giants' goal line back, as this was the first sign of life we had seen from the Giants running attack this year. Hopefully, for Giants fans, this is a sign of things to come, but I see it as more of an aberration.
The Giants offensive line has struggled opening up holes for Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, resulting in New York running backs averaging a mere 3.3 yards per carry. Eli Manning, as much as he would like to think he's in the same class of quarterback as Tom Brady, is not an elite quarterback, and he needs a consistent running game to help him set up the pass. Eli has played very well this year despite a three-interception performance against the Seahawks, but one has to wonder how long he can keep it up with an inconsistent running game.
The Giants defense, despite being decimated by injuries, has forced 13 turnovers and leads the league in sacks at 21. New York has always been able to rush the passer, so this comes as no surprise, but what is surprising is the play of their secondary, which was a major concern after a few preseason injuries.
This defense looks like the real deal, and the pass rush has been downright scary since the return of Osi Umenyiora. Having said that, they have still struggled against the run, and I feel like their secondary, no matter how well they play, will be a question mark all season.
Despite leading the NFC East right now, I don't see the G-men holding the top spot much longer. They lack consistency on both sides of the football, and they aren't dominating in the trenches, as we saw with the New York teams of the past five years.
Prediction: 8-8. With a very tough stretch after a bye week and a terrible Miami team (at New England, at San Francisco, Philadelphia, @New Orleans, Green Bay, at Dallas), I see this team struggling and finishing at .500
One has to think that if this team had any consistency at the quarterback position, they could be one of the elite teams in the league. The sad news for Redskins nation: They don't. John Beck will get the nod on Sunday against the Panthers, and he has proven in what little time he's played that he can possess the ball better than Grossman, but we are still left to wonder if this is much of an upgrade from Sexy Rexy.
The offense has been the essence of mediocrity this year, as they rank 17th in rushing and 15th in passing. Rex Grossman accounts for every one of the Redskins' turnovers this year, so his benching could help the Redskins take care of the football, assuming Mike Shanahan's high praise of John Beck is warranted.
The loss of guard Kory Lichtensteiger hurts an offensive line that has just started to gel together, and it won't make Beck's acclimation to his new job any easier. On the plus side, the Redskins have a stable of solid playmakers both in the backfield and at receiver, and Fred Davis has been playing at a high level all season. Look for this offense to take care of the football and manage games, but that's about it.
The Redskins' success this season relies heavily, almost solely, on the defense. Thus far, this unit has played at an extremely high level: They are sixth in yards allowed, third in scoring defense and have registered 17 sacks on the year. Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo are developing into the most feared outside linebacker duo in the league, and OJ Atogwe and Laron Landry can make big plays from their respective safety positions.
This defense will keep the Redskins in almost every game this year, allowing them to win a few games they shouldn't.
Prediction: 10-6. Luckily for Washington, they get to play their toughest games in the comfort of FedEx field, and they have a defense that can shut down just about anyone. Take into account the magic of Mike Shanahan, and you have yourself a potential wild-card team.
The Dallas Cowboys have won two games that they should have lost, and they have lost three games that they seemingly should have won. This has them sitting right below .500 at 2-3. With teams like these that could potentially be 5-0 or 0-5, the rule of thumb is to mark them down as an 8-8 team on the season. That may be the case for this Cowboys team, but let's take a closer look.
The offense is run by Tony Romo, who has made a name for himself as a good quarterback who struggles when the game is on the line. For the most part, this reputation has held true this year (especially against the Jets and Detroit). The Cowboys had no business losing to the Lions, but Romo made it happen. At the same time, this team had no business beating the 49ers, yet Romo made it happen.
The receiving corps is one of the best in the league, with Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten all at the disposal of Romo. Felix Jones mans the backfield, and he is talented, yet very injury prone, and the Cowboys seem to lack any real consistency in the running game. This has hurt them in games where they had late leads, but they couldn't milk the clock and get the W.
If this Cowboys team wants to succeed, they need to take care of the football and hold onto fourth quarter leads.
The Cowboys' defense this year has been great against the run, allowing only 69.6 rushing yards per game, good for best in the league. This allows Dallas to make opposing offenses one-dimensional. Unfortunately, they are still allowing 24.2 points per game, and part of the blame for this has to be put on the offensive turnovers.
This defense is a very solid unit, and Demarcus Ware is arguably the best defensive player in the NFL. As with the Redskins, the Cowboys have been in every game this year, and one can attribute this to solid defensive play.
Prediction: 10-6. This team is very good, and I see them finishing 10-6 and winning the NFC East. A relatively easy schedule will help them out down the road.
This Eagles team entered the season with extremely high hopes, as they dubbed themselves the "Dream Team." Six weeks later and a 2-4 record, and those dreams are long gone as Philadelphia attempts to get back on track. A win against the Redskins on Sunday saved their season going forward, but the Eagles have to treat every game on the schedule as a must-win from here on out. There's no denying the talent on this team, but do the Eagles have what it takes to put it all together?
On offense, Michael Vick has been human this year, and he has struggled with turnovers. LeSean McCoy has established himself as a premier runner in this league, and Vick's scrambling ability only adds to this rushing attack. The receivers are quick and fast, making this the most explosive offense in the division, but they have struggled with finishing drives, except in their victory against the Redskins last week.
The offensive line has struggled mightily this year, especially in pass protection, which leaves an already injury-prone Vick even more susceptible. As we saw on Sunday, if Vick goes down with an injury, the Eagles' season is over.
The defense has been criticized heavily for their Wide-Nine set, and the secondary, despite acquiring big names in the offseason, has struggled. The four interceptions last week were a big step in the right direction, but take it for what it's worth against Rex Grossman.
The Eagles did tighten up against the run, which has been an Achilles heel all year, and the Redskins have been known for establishing the run this year. This looked like a new defense on Sunday, but it might be too little too late for Juan Castillo.
Prediction: 7-9. This team struggles to control both the offensive and defensive lines, and because of that, we will never see any consistency from them. Having said that, the Eagles would dominate any team in a 4x100 meter relay. London 2012?