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Washington Redskins: Still the Team to Beat in the NFC East

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | What a difference a win makes.

Instead of facing the dire possibility of their once-promising season slipping further down the drain, with their Week 4 win over the Oakland Raiders, the Washington Redskins remain in the thick of the underwhelming 2013 NFC East race.

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Let's take it one step further. Despite being one game behind the division-leading 2-2 Dallas Cowboys, the 1-3 Redskins are still the NFC East's team to beat.

Here's why.

Things are looking up in Washington

The team's two biggest questions marks; Robert Griffin III and Jim Haslett's much-maligned defense, are showing signs of improvement.

After struggling out of the gates, Robert Griffin III is starting to find his rhythm. He's not quite the force that terrorized opponents with his deadly multidimensional abilities during his rookie season. However, this rendition of RGIII is still capable of getting the job done if he builds upon the progress he's made in recent weeks.

The defense also started off horribly, but appears to be moving in the right direction. With the upcoming returns of Rob Jackson and Jarvis Jenkins from four game suspensions, Jim Haslett's unit should continue to get better.

Meanwhile, as the Redskins get stronger, trouble could be looming on the horizon for their fellow NFC East foes. Let's take a look at why the rest of the division may not be able to keep up with the suddenly surging Redskins.

Same old Dallas Cowboys

With a golden opportunity to gain separation from their underperforming divisional opponents, the inconsistent Cowboys came up short in their Week 4 defeat to the San Diego Chargers.

Underachieving appears to be the calling card for the modern versions of America's Team. Contrary to their winning ways of the past, the Cowboys of recent memory always tend to find ways to make it harder for themselves to reach their potential on a yearly basis.

In a divisional race full of struggling franchises, the Cowboys did their part to keep the dreams of underperforming teams such as the Redskins alive with yet another disappointing loss.

Of course, the Redskins and Cowboys will collide in two weeks in the first of what should be two great matchups involving the old rivals. A Redskins' win would serve as a statement victory in their attempt to assert themselves as the divisional favorite.

Considering the frustrations of recent underachieving Cowboys' teams, don't be surprised if the Redskins step up with an important victory over their arch-enemies in two weeks.

The Giants are in trouble

There's a strong case to be made that the New York Giants are 2013's most disappointing team. With a two-time Super Bowl winning head coach and quarterback, it's a shock to see the Giants playing so poorly.

Whether it's Eli Manning's susceptibility to interceptions or the struggles of their atrocious defense, the Giants aren't just getting beat on a weekly basis; they're getting pummeled.

With such a talented team, it's fair to question whether or not they've quit on head coach Tom Coughlin. Despite his winning ways, Coughlin has a reputation of being the type of leader that will wear on his players over the course of time. It happened in Jacksonville and perhaps finally, it's taking place in Gotham City.

The Redskins will meet the G-men in their customary two divisional battles later in the season. Hopefully, when those December encounters take place, the Redskins will be able to catch the Giants in their current floundering state.

The Eagles have landed

After setting the NFL world on fire with their nauseating pace of matriculating the football down the field against the Redskins in Week 1, Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles have struggled mightily since. Losers of their last three contests, the Eagles are in a tailspin with their 1-3 record.

Even though both teams currently sit at 1-3, the Redskins and the Eagles appear to be headed in opposite directions, with the former getting better and the latter getting worse.

So despite their 1-3 record, due to their own improvements and their fellow divisional foes' adversities, the Washington Redskins are nevertheless in a prime position to challenge for their second consecutive NFC East title.

Drexel Perry's a freelance writer who recently moved back to the Washington D.C. area. For additional football talk, follow him on Twitter @DrexelPerry.

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