These rankings are supposed to become easier to do as the season wears on, not the other way around. But here we are. The Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants are each still mathematically alive in a three horse race for the NFC East title, with the Eagles gaining ground down the stretch. This week’s rankings are based on the probability each team makes the postseason and its overall performance of late. You might find the following to be a bit surprising.
1) Dallas Cowboys (8-6)- Frankly, I find the Cowboys’ defense to be a vastly overrated unit, one that the Eagles should light up for the second time this season (if the game has meaning come kickoff). I can’t comprehend how Rob Ryan’s name has come up as a possible head coaching candidate for potential future openings. What exactly has Ryan done to warrant such consideration?
The Eagles have been successful against the Ryan brothers this year and have been unusually successful against “3-4” defenses, sporting a 4-3 record this season.
After letting their strangle hold on the NFC East slip away with a brutal loss to the Giants two weeks ago, Dallas showed up on Saturday night in a must-win game, pounding a pitiful Tampa Bay team into submission. That’s what they were supposed to do. And now they’re back in the driver’s seat on the road to a division title. Whether or not they can remain there has yet to be seen.
2) Philadelphia Eagles (6-8)- You’re probably asking how I could put the Eagles in front of the Giants right now. But let me ask you this: What’s more likely–that the Giants beat the Jets and Cowboys or that the Eagles beat Dallas and Washington? I think that ultimately either team will have to win both games to leapfrog Dallas, and if that’s the case, I’d rather be the Eagles right now.
I think this team a sense of renewed life. And if given the opportunity to take advantage of it over the next two weeks, they will in fact seize it. The Giants must first lose to the Jets, of course, but the Eagles are going into Dallas with their backs up against the wall this weekend and I think they’re going to emerge with another Christmas miracle, much like they did during their improbable run in 2006. Jerry Jones said earlier this week that he was “scared” of the Eagles. He should be.
3) New York Giants (7-7)- The Giants could very well knock off the Jets and Dallas over the next two weeks, but their loss at home Sunday to Washington was inexplicable and certainly unacceptable. The Giants emerged from Dallas with a signature win two weeks ago, but came back flat and uninspired in a listless loss to the Redskins last Sunday. They had everything to gain and couldn’t get out of their own way. In a season in which the Cowboys and Giants have taken turns choking away an assured playoff spot, I get the sense the Giants are going to be on the outside looking in when the postseason begins.
The Giants’ defense is brutal in all facets. I expect Mark Sanchez and an improving Shonn Greene, who needs only 59 yards to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark for the season, to have success against the Jets’ defense. The only area the Giants have a measurable advantage is at quarterback. This will likely be a tight game, but while I’d rather Eli Manning slinging passes in the fourth quarter, I’d much rather be tossing them against the Giants’ defense than the Jets’ unit. This is going to be a hell of a game to watch. The Giants need it. And I don’t think they’re going to get it.
4. Washington Redskins (5-9)- The Redskins did the Eagles a huge favor last weekend in New York. Kudos to them. Their record indicates otherwise, but they’re a dangerous team that has played better of late. If the Eagles can survive this weekend, the Redskins will present a tough out for the Eagles in Week 17.