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Chemistry, injuries have held back NFC East this season

This item also appears in Albert Breer's Dec. 6 Transition Game notebook.

The NFC East is stocked with iconic, big-market teams, with proud traditions and high standards. And right now, it's also the worst division in its conference.

I got a tweet about that this week, looked it up and it's true. The cumulative record of the East (21-27) is actually worse than that of the sad-sack West (22-26). Last season was the first time in five years that the East didn't get a wild card, and that's a good bet to happen again, with the two playoff contenders in the division, the Cowboys and Giants, carrying mediocre records and having to play each other twice in the next four weeks.

So are things that bad? Here are the issues for each team ...

» Cowboys (7-5): They still need to improve along the offensive line, but talent is there. The culture change Jason Garrett has instituted needs to keep moving forward. Two weeks ago against Washington, the Cowboys proved they could win on a day when they didn't have their "A" game. It was fine that it happened again on a short week against Miami. But having a third straight uneven performance is enough for concern, considering this club had massive consistency issues in the past.

» Giants (6-6): Injuries haven't helped. But getting Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks healthy provided a glimpse into how good the Giants can be last Sunday. The lingering issues are that over the past three years, the Giants have gone 4-8 in the last quarter of the season. They enter that stretch drive with a tough slate ahead -- two against the Cowboys, a Christmas Eve showdown with the Jets and a tougher-than-it-looks game against Washington.

» Eagles (4-8): Yes, the Eagles have talent. But they also have big-time holes that they came into this season with, and will need to address. The offensive line should get better with young players ascending, but could still use help, and there's been a revolving door at linebacker for most of the year. And then, there's the issue with the defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo. If Andy hangs on to his job, he will have to make changes in those areas, and his future could depend on how those work out.

» Redskins (4-8):Mike Shanahan and Co. deserve credit for taking the slow, measured approach to building last offseason, and the 2011 draft class could give the team the foundation it's needed for a long, long time. Finding the right quarterback is next, and the 2012 draft looks stocked at the position. Taking that into account, things have actually gone great for Washington lately -- with the team playing very competitively, but not jeopardizing its draft position.

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