NFC East is no longer NFC Least

You revived a season that seemed doomed in week 1 you say? Have you unearthed one of the most likeable backup quarterbacks of this season or any other? Did he have the kind of fierce defensive play any head coach would enjoy?

Wait, what, all of the above?

Yes, sorry Dallas Cowboys, not good enough. All those things are great, but for you anyway, it’s the bronze medal and nothing more. Don’t worry, you are not alone.

Who’s next?

Got your franchise’s best start to the season in 14 years? Raised the spirits of your long-suffering fan base to an unthinkable level? Beat up some good teams and bumped into a guy who seems like an unexpected coaching genius?

Huh, all that up again?

Yes, sorry New York Giants, not good enough of you either. All that fun and optimism, and it’s still just the silver medal until you prove otherwise.

Welcome to the crazy world of NFC East, home to the hottest teams in professional football and where an almost unimaginable reversal has taken place.

Worst-to-first really does apply when it comes to comparing the current quality level of the division formerly known as NFC Least to the rather dismal stuff it’s been producing over the last few years. For now, of course, the division is led by the indomitable Philadelphia Eagles, the only undefeated team in the NFL to emerge from a well-deserved bye week.

The Eagles’ lead behind QB Jalen Hurts is why the 5-2 Cowboys going into Sunday’s home game against the Chicago Bears (1:00 p.m. ET on FOX and FOX Sports App) must win to stay in the Getting thrown, not to mention the heat generated by Cooper Rush’s admirable substitution and Dak Prescott’s welcome return.

That’s also why the Giants are putting some pressure on their street with the Seattle Seahawks (4:25 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App), despite being in the exhilarating sphere of a 6-1 start, so something not seen since the days when Michael Strahan and Eli Manning were paid to don football uniforms instead of hosting TV shows.

“The Giants have become the best second-half football team in the league,” FS1’s Colin Cowherd said on The Herd. “They are the second best rushing team in the league. They’re on a four-game winning streak.

“Brian Daboll has done a remarkable job situationally. They won’t knock many teams out of the race. They will win narrowly, that’s what they are. That’s what they have.”

Herd Hierarchy: Bengals, Giants move up Colin’s top 10 teams in Week 8

Herd Hierarchy: Bengals, Giants move up Colin's top 10 teams in Week 8

Colin Cowherd shares his top 10 NFL teams in Week 8.

As things stand, it seems like not just a possibility that the division could send three teams into the postseason, but a distinct likelihood.

Which in itself creates a quirky little paradox for the Giants and Cowboys. Of course, there’s unreserved elation at the burgeoning form, but also a sense that no matter what they do, it may not be enough for division bragging rights and a home playoff game.

The teams at the NFC East got off to a quick start and managed to keep it going. It’s built on guys rising like Hurts and Daniel Jones and Rush under center and the performances of defensive maestros like Micah Parsons in Dallas, free agent pickup Haason Reddick in Philly and a Giants unit making it big, when it matters.

Even the basement-dwelling Washington Commanders aren’t so bad at 3-5 after beating the Green Bay Packers last weekend, although that didn’t stop them from staying well ahead of the frantic pace of the NFC East. In games against non-division teams, the NFC East is 16-3.

The Eagles have just flown clear, the Giants have surprised weekly and the Cowboys have survived a series of squeaks despite an offensive approach that prioritized caution over explosiveness during Prescott’s absence.

The division’s newfound upward trend was summed up by Dallas owner Jerry Jones, who spoke about playoff action not as a goal but as an assumption.

“When you get to the playoffs, you better be ready to play like that,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan, referring to how tough the team has been in recent tight games. “If you get to the playoffs, you will most likely have close games. Things are tighter all around. I think we’re practicing playoff football.”

All of the redeeming vibes have coalesced into one blockbuster story, actually a series of stories wrapped into one. Every effort – from the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys – is worthy and noteworthy. That they all happened at the same time is one of those crazy football coincidences and has made their division the go-to place for excellent football and high drama.

It gets even juicier around Thanksgiving, because that’s when the meat of the division table is on the table.

For now it’s all about keeping the momentum going, albeit peppered with the slightly troubling thought that excellence might still not be good enough this season.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletterright

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