Drew Brees may have helped put the NFC East race into focus on Monday night by disassembling the Giants. If nothing else, we have separation at the top and a new outright leader in the standings and in the links.
Dallas Cowboys (7-4)
I remember back at the beginning of the season, when Anthony Spencer told me the thing he'd learned from his disappointing 2010 season was that he could no longer "mail in" practice days. Well, Spencer's having a big year in advance of a contract push, and he admits that playing in the final year of his contract is part of his motivation to remain focused every day. If that's what helps, the Cowboys will take it.
Tim MacMahon wonders if the Cowboys need to be careful not to overwork rookie running back DeMarco Murray now that he's become their clear feature back. It's a worthwhile point, since he is a rookie after all, and I wonder if the Cowboys keep winning and clinch the division with a couple of weeks left if they might back him off a little bit down the stretch.
New York Giants (6-5)
Ian O'Connor thinks Tom Coughlin's job is in jeopardy if the Giants don't recover from their three-game losing streak and finish the season strong. I guess it's possible, but you know where I come down on this. I think the Giants have overachieved, given the roster Coughlin was handed, and I don't understand how this is his fault.
Ralph Vacchiano takes a look at the missing Giants pass rush, which was so critical to their early-season success but now has just five sacks and 14 quarterback hits in its past four games. I asked Justin Tuck after the game if offenses were doing more to keep the Giants' defensive linemen off of quarterbacks lately, and he made it clear that they are. I don't know what the answer is for that, though. They seem loath to blitz because they're already not great in coverage and don't want to take manpower away from the back end. The defense only works when that front four is beating blockers, and right now, for whatever reason, they're not doing it.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-7)
Les Bowen wonders if some jobs that aren't coaching jobs are on the line over the Eagles' final five games -- i.e., whether the front office might consider roster changes instead of or in addition to coaching changes based on the way certain players perform and have performed so far. I've been inclined to believe Andy Reid comes back and tries again with a roster they all believed was good enough to do great things this year. But I guess Les has a point that it's possible to play your way out of town from this situation. May or may not be thinking about a guy whose name rhymes with "ShmeSean Shmackson."
Jeff McLane takes up the question of why the Eagles don't use LeSean McCoy more ... in verse! Hey, maybe it'll catch someone's attention.
Washington Redskins (4-7)
Mike Shanahan said the Redskins are going to stick with Roy Helu at running back after Helu's breakout performance Sunday. I'll believe it when I see it, but Shanahan sure does seem excited about his rookie back.
Couple of injuries came out of the Redskins' first victory in two months. Defensive end Stephen Bowen has a torn knee ligament but apparently might be able to play anyway. And fullback Darrel Young has a concussion, which could keep him out Sunday. But the Redskins are actually kind of deep at fullback, which is unusual in this day and age, and could plug in veteran Mike Sellers.