Before the start of the 2009 season, most NFL observers without a specific rooting interest would have told you that in the NFC East, the favorites had to be the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, with the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins capable of competing for the division only if everything went right. Well, we know how things have gone for the Redskins, but things are definitely looking up for the Cowboys. The undrafted Miles Austin(notes) is looking like a threat of Drew Pearson proportions, Tony Romo(notes) is playing consistently well recently, and the combination of their huge offensive line and three-headed running back attack makes Dallas a very tough team to stop. Now that DeMarcus Ware(notes) has jumped off the milk carton, the Cowboys look strong -- they certainly did when they demolished the weak-kneed Seahawks, 38-17, at the Jerry Jones Den of Iniquity today.
Meanwhile, the Eagles are up to their usual Jekyll-and-Hyde tricks. Two weeks after an embarrassing loss to the Raiders in which the playcalling of Andy Reid was called into question by the boo-birds for the five millionth time, and a mere six days after they took advantage of a Redskins squad who basically forgot to show up for Monday Night Football, Philly took the wood to the Giants, 40-17. They did it without Brian Westbrook(notes), who was out with a concussion, but they did have gamebreaking threat DeSean Jackson(notes). Jackson scored on a 54-yard reception, giving him six plays of 50 or more yards this season. And they did it with the power running (!) of halfback LeSean McCoy(notes) and fullback Leonard Weaver(notes), who combined for 157 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. And they did it with a ravenous defense that limited the Giants to two touchdowns and 163 first-half yards (whole the Eagles were racking up 262). The Giants are flagging, having lost three straight, and they seem to have no answers for an offense that has lost the ability to run with consistency and control the tempo and momentum of a game.
So, when the Eagles welcome the Cowboys to the Linc for Sunday Night Football next week, the game will put the division leaders, each at 5-2, against each other in what should be the first step in a thrillride for supremacy down the stretch. Last time these two teams met, it was in the 2008 regular-season finale. Philly destroyed Dallas, 44-6, going on to the NFC Championship game while the Cowboys simply went home. Don't believe for one second that Dallas has forgotten how their season ended.