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Upside-Down NFL Requires Consistency

ARLINGTON, Va. -- A weird Sunday, for sure. Did you feel the least bit dirty rooting for the dreaded Dallas Cowboys on Sunday? I sure did, but the Cowboys' win over New York meant the Eagles are playing for first place in the NFC East against the Giants, and Dallas' performance was again a reminder of the wild and wacky ways of this great league.

Dallas played bombs away against the Giants secondary, utilizing the extraordinary talents of rookie receiver Dez Bryant to throw the ball down the field and make big plays, and the Cowboys defense took advantage of an Eli Manning interception to turn potential Giants points into a Cowboys touchdown in the first half of the game. Watching the game illustrated strengths and weaknesses on both teams and, well, that's the way it in the NFL in 2010. There are no givens. It is utterly unpredictable.

I scouted the Giants, for what that is worth (almost nothing). The Giants are loaded on offense, even with a half-baked line featuring Shawn Andrews at left tackle. Manning has come a long, long way this year. He has great weapons around him. The scheme is terrific. As difficult as it was to match up against the Colts, it will be equally as difficult against New York.

The weaknesses for the Giants' offense? A failed fourth-and-1 run by Brandon Jacobs -- we have seen that in the past, haven't we? -- and a passing game that clearly missed wide receiver Steve Smith and a healthy Kevin Boss at tight end.

New York's defense is great when the front four gets off, but Dallas did a fine job allowing quarterback Jon Kitna time to set up and throw it up for grabs. The running game was better than it had been. And it sure helped to play with a lead, and to generate some takeaways against Manning's arm.

What does it mean for the Eagles? It means that there is a whole lot of football ahead, and that anything can happen. And that the best approach of all is to go slow and steady and remain focused and hopefully get lucky with injuries and play with urgency every week.

The Eagles are playing for first place in the division against Washington. It is a great place to be. The Eagles arrived here with a great deal of confidence -- "I can tell," said ESPN analyst Jon Gruden after his production meeting with the team -- "that the Eagles have each other's backs. They believe in each other."

Given the climate in the league these days, that is about as good as it gets. I spent some time with the ESPN broadcast team on Sunday evening, and the conversation ranged from Eagles-Redskins and all of the stories for this to the rest of what is happening in the NFL.

"It is a crazy league out there," said ESPN's Ron Jaworski. "Week to week, you don't know what is going to happen."

We hope we do with the Eagles. We hope that Andy Reid's unflappable nature bleeds down to the rest of the team. That is the way it has been for 11-plus years now, and even with a young team there is no reason to think that will change.

It's on to the Redskins, and the incredible stack of stories around the game.

"There aren't many games," said play-by-play man Mike Tirico, "that have this many stories. It's going to be a good one."

And an important one. A huge one. The Eagles play the Redskins, with first place in the NFC East on the line for the Eagles. It is a great place to be in the NFL.

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