COMMENTARY | We've heard it from just about anybody who gets paid to offer an opinion about the National Football League: The East Division of the National Football Conference stinks this year.
I'm paraphrasing of course, but you get the drift.
I must confess I concurred with this thinking for much of the first half of the 2013 season. The Giants lost their first six games. The Redskins lost four of their first five. The Eagles lost three of their first four and the Cowboys lost three of their first five. Even as it stands now, the Eagles are the only team in the division with a winning record.
But I'm here to tell you the plain truth. That abhorrent odor causing football fans to pinch their collective noses isn't emanating from the NFC East.
The plain truth is entire league stinks this year.
The Eagles lead the NFC East right now with a 6-5 record. I do realize that's hardly impressive. But NFC East critics take note - only the Seattle Seahawks (10-1), New Orleans Saints (8-2) and Carolina Panthers (7-3) have more victories than do the Eagles in the entire NFC. The Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers are all 6-4. Eight of the 16 teams in the conference are .500 or worse.
And trust me, this stench isn't indigenous to the NFC either. Nine - count 'em, nine - of the 16 teams in the American Football Conference are under .500, with two more at .500. The AFC has two divisions with only one team boasting a winning record.
Of course, these things will all even out by the end of the season. Bad teams play each other, somebody's got to win, right? It's a good bet one or more of the teams standing at 4-6 right now will make the playoffs. But this little snapshot of the league at this juncture suggests mass mediocrity with a leaning toward the foul scent side.
What this means in the grand scheme of things is the Eagles are smack dab in middle of the playoff hunt, even if they don't happen to win their division. They have five games left in the regular season and if their recent three-game winning streak is any indicator, the Eagles have a great shot at the division championship and the home playoff game that goes with it.
The remaining Eagles' home games are against three of those 6-4 teams, Arizona, Detroit and Chicago. They also have an away game against the struggling Minnesota Vikings (2-8) before finishing the regular season at Dallas (5-5). That game may well decide the division since Dallas won in Philadelphia, 17-3, on Oct. 20.
While the Eagles enjoy their bye week Sunday, the Cowboys are playing the resurgent Giants (4-6) in key game in New York. They finish the regular season with home games against Oakland Raiders (4-6), Green Bay Packers (5-5) and Eagles while playing the Bears and Redskins (3-7) on the road. It's a similar journey to what the Eagles face the rest of the way in terms of difficulty, particularly if Aaron Rodgers is back playing quarterback for the Packers on Dec. 15.
The Giants can put themselves firmly in the division and playoff hunt as well with a win over the Cowboys on Sunday. They finish with road games at Washington, at the San Diego Chargers (4-6) and at Detroit, and home games against the NFC's best team. Seattle, and a regular-season closer with the Redskins. The Seahawks encounter and the game in Detroit make the Giants' journey a little more challenging, giving their 4-6 record. It makes the Dallas game Sunday pretty much vital.
And just for the record, the Philadelphia Eagles have lost their last three playoffs games. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Ted Williams lives in Emmaus, PA and is a lifetime Eagles follower. He spent 20 years in print journalism, winning state and national awards.
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