New York Giants (7-4)
The Giants always make a run at the end of the season, right? And Eli Manning and the guys always show up on your TV screen in January and even February. Well, this year should be no exception.
The usual Giant combo of solid play from Eli, tough running game and ferocious pass rush is all there. But the December schedule is very tough (except for the free-falling Eagles) and there’s not much chance of a first-round bye, so the Giants will have to take the long way. But that’s been their approach before and they have a couple of rings to show for it.
Playoff Snapshot: The division title looks like it’s in the bag, but no first-round bye with Atlanta and San Francisco running ahead. Nevertheless, you can’t ever count New York out.
Washington Redskins (5-6)
Robert Griffin III and his mates have made the occasional splash, and certainly separated themselves a bit from the bottom of the division with wins over Dallas and Philadelphia in the last two weeks.
And 5-foot-9 sixth-round pick Alfred Morris (Florida Atlantic) has been a breakout star himself, with 982 yards on the ground. Morris and Griffin have Washington in first place in the league in rushing.
But the pass defense has been leaky (giving up more yards per game than any team except Tampa Bay), and the team’s best win is over that fellow “team-on-the-rise,” the Bucs.
Playoff Snapshot: Washington still has a chance to grab a wild card, but it has a ways to go before being much of a playoff threat.
Dallas Cowboys (5-6)
The Cowboys season isn’t all that bad: Tony Romo has two excellent targets in Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, and the defense has been solid. But the Cowboys have no real running game.
Their biggest problem has been a schedule that sent them up against some of the top teams in the league … and they didn’t win a single one. They went up against the Bears, Ravens, Giants and Falcons in a five-game stretch and lost all four.
Their home stretch is a bit easier (although they have to face the Steelers), and their season-ender with Washington could have a playoff berth on the line.
Playoff Snapshot: The Cowboys can beat the lesser teams, but don’t look like any sort of real playoff threat.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-8)
Ouch. What a mess. After a 3-1 start, the Eagles have lost seven in a row.
Thing is, the team hasn’t really been that bad statistically, and it still has some weapons in LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and, when he’s healthy, Michael Vick. But Vick’s health situation, and now even more mess related to it (Vick seems to think the team is using his concussion as an excuse to move him out of the lineup permanently), plus the lingering coaching issues surrounding Andy Reid, make the season-ending stretch difficult to watch.
Playoff Snapshot: Playoffs, no. House-cleaning among coaches and roster, yes.