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Monday, November 21, 2011
Breakfast links: Standings shakeup

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Sunday was the kind of day that reminds us all why we love the NFC East. Two knock-down, drag-outs that shook up the standings. Funny thing: A few weeks back, on the suggestion of a reader, we stopped doing the breakfast links in alphabetical order and started doing them in order of the current division standings. Thanks to the NFL's tiebreaker system, the current standings are in alphabetical order. Nutty, huh? Anyway, links:

Dallas Cowboys (6-4)

When the season began, place-kicker was an area of concern for the Cowboys. The thinking was that they didn't have one, and that because Dan Bailey was less awful on field goals than David Buehler was, that's why he made the team. But after making 24 consecutive field goals, including the overtime game-winner Sunday in Washington, Bailey has become one of the Cowboys' reliable sure things, as Calvin Watkins writes.

Rookie running back DeMarco Murray found the going tougher Sunday against Washington than he had so far since getting the starting running back job. But he held up all right and said after the game that he could play today if he had to. Which is good, since the Cowboys' next game is Thursday.

New York Giants (6-4)

Ralph Vacchiano's not shy. He's just going to come right out and say it: The Giants' annual second-half collapse has begun. We'll see. I still think they've shown the ability to be in and maybe win every game they play, and they'll have two chances to beat the Cowboys head to head. But if they stumble against the very tough teams on their remaining schedule, they'll look back on Sunday night as a bad missed opportunity.

What Tom Coughlin wanted to know when it was all over, Steve Politi writes, was "Why?" As in, why didn't the Giants play as though they knew the Eagles were going to scratch and claw and do everything they had to do to win? It's possible that the Giants reached that conclusion by watching any number of the Eagles' first nine games, but I'm just sayin'.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

Man, DeSean Jackson was fired up after that game. Considering he cost the Eagles 50 yards with a taunting penalty after a big sideline catch, and considering that he missed the previous week's loss to the Cardinals after missing a team meeting the day before and getting benched, Jackson was downright chirpy. "The playmaker ability, just the spark, the energy I'm able to bring to this team, people don't really understand the light that I bring and just kind of shine on my teammates," he said, according to Jon Tamari. And I guess not, but in people's defense, Jackson's kept all of that light and spark and energy pretty well hidden this year.

After the game, Andy Reid was noncommittal about his starting quarterback for next week's game against the Patriots. As Jeff McLane writes, it'll be Michael Vick if he's healthy enough to play without limitations. But if he's not, Reid liked what he saw from Vince Young on Sunday night and doesn't want to put Vick "in a bad position, that's for sure."

Washington Redskins (3-7)

Dan Daly saw signs of life and excitement in the Redskins' near-miss loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, and he agrees that's a good thing. Remember, this is a team that's building for the future, and the players who are going to be around for that near-term future can benefit from the feel-good moments they have along the way, even if they come in a loss.

Problem is, the Redskins can't seem to stop guys from getting hurt. Trent Williams is having an MRI on his knee today, and if he's out for an extended period of time, opposing defenses are going to start teeing off on Redskins quarterbacks the way the Bills did when Williams missed that game and John Beck got sacked 10 times. And that's not going to help anybody's mood or development.