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Take Care Of Work In NFC East

Posted Oct 4, 2013

It's the division that hasn't been able to sort itself out at the quarter mark of the 2013 season. In this season, in this NFC East, anything goes. So why can't the Eagles make their mark? ...

It says here that any of the four teams in the NFC East -- even the 0-4 Giants -- have a chance to win the division. Hard to believe, and no doubt that when Buddy Ryan and Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells and Jimmy Johnson Tweet to each other, they do so wondering what in the heck happened to the most fearsome division in the entire NFL.

This NFC East isn't what it was back in the day. Back then every game was a battle of league heavyweights going toe to toe in the 60-minute ring, trading haymakers. From the 1982 season through the 1993 campaign, a team from the NFC East won the Super Bowl six times, and another (Washington in 1983 season) represented the NFC in the game.

Even from 2000 through 2012 the NFC East was a strong division, with the Giants winning the Super Bowl twice and the Eagles and the Giants (again) playing and losing in a Super Bowl.

Never before has the NFC East lurched out of the gates like in this season. The Cowboys lead the division with a 2-2 record as they prepare for Denver on Sunday. The Eagles are 1-3 preparing for the 0-4 Giants at MetLife Stadium. Washington, after winning its first game of the season on the heels of three straight losses, has a bye weekend.

NFC East combined record: 4-12.

Ouch.

The good news is all of this is that each team is working through some early-season flaws and that the division is wide open as a result.

Chip Kelly isn't embracing the idea that a win on Sunday against New York and a loss by Dallas would, um, push the Eagles into first place in the division. He basically LOL'd about it during the week, and it's understandable.

"They don't give out trophies when you're in first place in October," he said.

True enough. The Eagles led the NFC East at this time a year ago after beating the Giants and improving to 3-1. It was the high-water mark of a season that went the other way quickly. From 3-1 to 4-12 and a dismantling of the coaching staff and the roster ... that's where the season ended for the Eagles in 2012.

Who wins the NFC East in 2013? Maybe it comes down to this: The team that wins the most in the division is going to be the one that stands alone at the end of the season in the NFC East.

The Eagles started the year with a win at Washington, and they face three games in the next five weeks against their NFC East rivals -- New York twice and Dallas once.

"You have to take care of the division first and that's just how you look at it," said linebacker Trent Cole, who knows a thing or two about playing the Giants and winning in the NFC East. "It always starts with the division."

Let's not look ahead and suggest that if the Eagles can win 6 of 8 NFC East games they can ... It's hard to resist, I know.

Instead, the Giants are the focus. The 0-4 Giants have a lot of injured players, yeah, but they have even more pride. And there is no way the Giants will go down without a fight on Sunday.

The Eagles know it.

"Division games are the toughest ones. There is always a lot of intensity," said quarterback Michael Vick. "I love playing in the NFC East."

It's not the NFC East that we remember, but it's still early in the season. The Redskins won the division a season ago by capturing their final six games and dominating December.

For the Eagles, October is where it's at. The NFC East is fertile territory.

NEWS, NOTES AND SOME OF THIS AND THAT

  • As expected, the Giants have some real injury concerns. Offensive linemen David Baas and Chris Snee are out, as is defensive lineman Linval Joseph and cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Jayron Hosley. Corey Webster is listed as doubtful. That's punishing. So what do the Eagles do offensively? Winning the battle at the line of scrimmage is essential, and then taking advantage of matchups in space could be a recipe for a strong offensive outing.

  • Did Jeff Maehl do enough in limited time against Denver -- two receptions, including a touchdown catch -- to merit more playing time at wide receiver? It's going to be interesting to see how Chip Kelly plays it on Sunday with the Giants struggling so much to field healthy cornerbacks for the game. If the Eagles use four wides, do the Giants even have enough cornerbacks to use in coverage, or will someone like safety Antrel Rolle have to play as a cornerback?

  • Cole has a chance to go against right tackle Justin Pugh, a Philadelphia-area native who grew up an Eagles fan. Cole has 71 1/2 career sacks, third in franchise history behind Reggie White and Clyde Simmons. No doubt Pugh has been to some of the big games in Cole's career. Cole has 16 multiple-sack games in his Eagles career.

  • Damaris Johnson expects big things in the return game this year, and he's averaging 26.4 yards on kickoff returns. But he hasn't had much room to roam in the punt game, averaging just 8.8 yards per return, with a long of 21 yards.

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