Analysis

NFC East up for grabs among Giants, Redskins, Eagles, Cowboys

Heading into the final seven weeks of the season, first place in a weak NFC East is up for grabs. Right now, the New York Giants (5-5) have the lead, followed by Washington (4-5), Philadelphia (4-5) and Dallas (2-7). And don't forget that Tony Romo is set to return for the Cowboys, likely making things more interesting down the stretch.

Brian Billick, Steve Mariucci, Nate Burleson and LaDainian Tomlinson lay out a plausible path to divisional glory for each squad.

The Giants are in first place right now and have two division games left to play against Washington and Philadelphia. They can win four of their six remaining games this season to get to nine wins, which is probably what it will take to claim the NFC East. The Giants also have a healthy Eli Manning, who has won two Super Bowls. They have the most explosive receiver in the league in Odell Beckham Jr., and Jason Pierre-Paul is back and getting on track. If we assume the division will be won with a 9-7 record (and that may be optimistic), here is how Washington will have to do it: They have the toughest test out of the box this week, having to travel to Carolina. Let's assume they don't win there. They then follow up with very winnable games at home vs. the Giants and Cowboys, then go to Chicago. They have a tough game at home against Buffalo, followed by road games in Philly and Dallas for the division. As long as quarterback Kirk Cousins does not turn the ball over, they win. They're running better and are seventh in the NFL in third-down conversions. Except for against Carolina and Buffalo, this formula may get it done. They signed DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews for a reason. DeMarco is a great north-south running back, and Ryan has proved to be one of the best short-yardage and goal-line running backs. The Eagles have enough at the receiving and tight end positions to get them into those situations. Toward the end of the year, when most teams lean on the running game to take control of the clock and beat teams, that's going to be the Eagles' biggest strength. They have two solid pieces and a great balance between those two running backs. The Cowboys have the best offensive line in the NFC East, without question. Given the experience they have with their skill players -- especially with Tony Romo coming back -- they can get on a run and win these last seven games. We've seen them do it before. We've seen them win consecutive games with this group. They've had one of the toughest schedules in the league so far, but it's about to get a little easier. I think Cowboy fans can be optimistic going forward.

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