The NFC East has downgraded from last year. The Eagles have flopped. The Redskins are bad. And the Cowboys and Giants are not considered elite by many people. However, anything can happen in the playoffs, which is why it will be interesting to see who wins the division.
The winner of the division will have a lot of momentum and get through a tough road to the playoffs. Therefore, they will be battle-tested and have a shot to make some noise in the playoffs. With that, I look into some key factors that will shape the road for both teams.
First, the obvious: the remaining schedules. Next week, the Giants travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys on Sunday night football. While it's only one game, it will be huge in giving momentum to the winner. If the Giants win, the two teams are tied. If the Cowboys win, the Cowboys will have a two game lead with three to play.
Many would say the game is more crucial for the Giants, but I would say it's just as important for the Cowboys. If New York wins, they automatically become the favorites in the division race and people will question Dallas after losing back to back games.
Needless to say, it is an important game for both sides.
An interesting thing to look at is the parallel between the Packers-Giants game and the Patriots-Giants game from 2007. In the final week of that season, the Giants played the undefeated Patriots close, but lost. The rest is history, after they went on to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
There are many differences and similarities to that game, but the best thing you can take out of it is that Tom Coughlin's Giants know how to learn from their losses and beat teams the second time around. That its why the Giants could be dangerous, should they get into the playoffs.
It may mean nothing, but it's an aspect to keep on eye on should the situation arrive. The Giants will be focused on winning right now. As will Tony Romo.
This division race and a possible Cowboys postseason appearance will do a lot to shape Romo's legacy. He has been an excellent quarterback in the NFL but has been erratic at times and has had trouble winning close games. Everyone remembers when he botched the hold on the field goal against Seattle in his first season starting. Then, of course, their are the many December follies he has had.
This year, we've seen the good and the bad of Romo. Earlier in the year, he found a way to give games to the Jets and Lions by throwing interceptions.
However, in the game against San Francisco, and in recent games, Romo has been clutch.
He has blown out the Bills and Rams and handled the Seahawks. He set his team up for game winning field goals against the Redskins, Dolphins, and Cardinals (even though they didn't beat the Cardinals).
Romo's clutch play as of late has Dallas fans being optimistic. However, the running game has to get better in order to not put everything on him. Romo is a good quarterback, but not one who can get the job done all by himself.
If Romo can lead his team to the playoffs and some postseason wins, his image may be changed for the good. If he fails to come through again. People will be saying he can never win the big one.
So finally, with all of that being said, what will happen? I'll pick all of their remaining games to correctly see who will win the division.
Giants @ Cowboys: I like the Cowboys because they have a better defense. If DeMarco Murray gets going, it will be a long day for the Giants.
Cowboys @ Buccaneers: A rare Saturday game, but I like the Cowboys again. Tampa Bay has been completely flat and looks like they have no desire to play.
Redskins @ Giants: In a must-win game, I can't see New York dropping this one. They will avenge an early season loss against the inept Redskins.
Giants @ Jets: This will be a truly close and exciting game, but I like the Jets to pull out a win in the battle for New York.
Eagles @ Cowboys: The Cowboys have something to play for. The Eagles don't. And right now, at least for this season, Dallas is a better team.
Cowboys @ Giants: The Giants get the victory in what would be a meaningless matchup. For the record, however, even if the game meant something, I would still pick the Giants because I think the teams are so even that they will split the season series.
That would put the Cowboys at 10-6 and give them the division crown over the 8-8 Giants. But that's just my opinion. Anything can happen. All I know is it's going to be an exciting end of the season for the entire NFL. But don't sleep on the NFC East; you may be surprised at what you see.