Let Jason Garrett and his team focus on playing the Giants – how juicy does the race for the NFC East look right now?
It’s 100 percent true that the New York Giants are still in the thick of things, and all it would take is a road upset of the Cowboys on Sunday to re-insert themselves into the conversation. For the time being, there are two 5-1 clubs atop the NFC East standings – Dallas and Philadelphia.
That doesn’t happen every season – it didn’t even happen in 2007, when the Cowboys finished 13-3 and the Giants went 10-6 and eventually won the Super Bowl. In fact, the last time it happened was in 1986. The Redskins tore off five-straight wins to open the season before losing to the Cowboys, and the Giants lost their season opener – to Dallas – before going on a tear of their own.
That season ended with the Giants hosting the Redskins in the NFC Championship Game and eventually going on to crush Denver in the Super Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Far be it from me to suggest either the Cowboys or the Eagles have Super Bowl aspirations at this early stage of the season, but it certainly is fun to see this division produce two of the NFC’s top contenders so far. There’s only one other 5-1 team in the NFL, and the Chargers are a world away in the AFC West.
In the two biggest league power rankings on the Internet, ESPN.com’s and NFL.com’s, Dallas and Philadelphia are virtually identical. ESPN ranks the Cowboys No. 3 in the league with the Eagles at No. 4, while NFL ranks the Eagles at No. 3 with the Cowboys at No. 4.
What’s even more fun is that the Cowboys and Eagles don’t play each other until a late date in the season. Philadelphia comes to AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving for the first tilt between the two – by which time both clubs will have played one game each against New York and Washington. It’s the latest the Cowboys will play their first game against Philly since
2010, when their first matchup came on Dec. 12.
We’ve already talked a bit about the Cowboys’ upcoming homestand before then. They’ve got three straight home games, and then a trip to London to play in front of what will assuredly be a pro-Cowboys crowd. It’s also worth noting that the Cowboys play just one team in that stretch, Arizona, with a winning record. Their next four opponents are 8-15 on the season.
It doesn’t look so easy for the Eagles – not as easy as blanking the Giants, at least. Philadelphia will be on the road for three of the next five weeks, including this weekend’s trip to Arizona and an upcoming trip to Green Bay. The Eagles’ next five opponents are a combined 16-12-1 to this point.
Maybe the luster will have worn off these two by the time they get through these upcoming stretches.
The Cowboys have back-to-back chances to prove their worth within the division, with New York and Washington coming to town in Weeks 7 and 8.
We’re starting to get the sense, though, that these are the two teams to beat in this division.