Are the Cowboys NFC East favorites?

October, 20, 2011
10/20/11
3:54
PM ET
What we know for sure about the NFC East is that someone will win it. That's in the rules. We all had to look it up last year when the NFC West was in considerably worse shape than the East is now. But this year's East is a jumble in which no team has yet to separate itself from the rest, and picking a champion from here in Week 7 is tough duty. It really could still be any of the four teams.

Bucky Brooks of NFL.com thinks it'll be the Dallas Cowboys, and he has three reasons: First, he thinks they have the best defense in the division. Second, he believes coach Jason Garrett will fix the red-zone offense problems. And third, he sees the schedule easing out quite a bit:
The Cowboys get three home dates -- St. Louis (10/23), Seattle (10/30) and Buffalo (11/13) -- over the next four weeks, which gives them a chance to gain significant ground on their divisional rivals.

While road games against the Eagles and Redskins certainly will be tough, the Cowboys can control their own destiny down the stretch.

The third point is a critical one. With games against the Lions and Patriots already in the past, the Cowboys look ahead to the easier portion of their schedule. It matters, especially considering what we all know becomes of the schedule of the 4-2 Giants starting two weeks from now.

Overall, I think I'm with Bucky on this one. I think the Cowboys have played better than any other team in the division so far, week in and week out, and I can certainly see why someone would think they're the favorites to win this division even though they're 2-3 and in third place.

I have serious concerns about the reasons they've lost their games. They are prone to major mistakes at rotten times, and quarterback Tony Romo has been a major part of that. And Bucky's assumption that Garrett, who's been an NFL head coach for less than one calendar year, will somehow just fix the red-zone issues is a major leap. The Giants have the edge in coaching and the edge in current win-loss record, and to this point they've looked like a team that's far less prone to mistakes than the Cowboys are.

However, I think Dallas' talent and schedule have the potential to be a good, beneficial mix the rest of the way. And if they can stop tripping over themselves at key times, the opportunity is there for them to do something special this year. The NFC East right now looks like a land of opportunity.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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