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NFC East: A new challenger to Giants' throne rises

Summarizing the NFC East race after Thursday's victory by the Washington Redskins over the Dallas Cowboys.

Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin III
Ronald Martinez

After what we witnessed on Thanksgiving Day does anyone else doubt that the Washington Redskins, not the Dallas Cowboys, are the New York Giants' biggest threat in the NFC East this season?

I certainly don't.

I only saw part of Washington's 38-31 victory over the Cowboys on Thursday, but it was enough. Late comeback or not, the Cowboys remain a team that simply can't get it done when it matters most. That has been the pattern for years, and while the Cowboys will continue to nip at the Giants' heels they will seemingly always find a way to come up short. The Redskins? Washington, undoubtedly, is a team on the rise.

The Redskins, for now, did the Giants a favor Thursday. Now, no matter what happens on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, the Giants will have first place in the division all to themselves with five games remaining in the season.

Both Washington and Dallas are 5-6, but after Thursday it is impossible to look at those 5-6 records and call them equal. Dallas is 5-6, treading water and going nowhere. Washington is 5-6, improving and looking like a team that will have to be reckoned with.

The Giants go to Washington next week for a Monday night game. If they lose to Green Bay Sunday, they will enter the game with a one-game lead in the division and a chance to fall into a tie with Washington in the NFC East.

Here is Art Stapleton of The Record with his take on the division race:

So Dallas losing to Washington yesterday – while I’m sure Giants fans took a lot of pleasure in that, and for good reason – really didn’t do anything to help Big Blue’s chances at a repeat divisional coronation. If anything, all the Redskins did was make it tougher. Dallas isn’t out of it with that loss and now Washington is right back in the race.

What does it all mean? Don’t listen to anyone who tells you the Giants have a little bit more breathing room with a Washington victory. They don’t, even if that’s what the standings might show today. A two-game lead in the loss column can become one very quickly Sunday night and the Cowboys again could find themselves even by beating the Eagles at Jerry World Dec. 2 – the day before the Giants and Redskins take the field at FedEx.

Stapleton is right. What Thursday really did is make the Giants' road to the title even harder -- adding another challenger. From this vantage point, it looks like the Redskins are the team the Giants really need to be worrying about.

NFC East Standings

New York Giants 6 4 0 267 216
Washington 5 6 0 295 285
Dallas 5 6 0 242 262
Philadelphia 3 7 0 162 252

(updated 11.23.2012 at 3:29 AM EST)