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NFL playoff picture: Giants still alone in first place in NFC East

Giants return to work with NFC East still in their control.

Kirk Cousins Sunday vs. Carolina
Kirk Cousins Sunday vs. Carolina
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday wasn't a perfect day for the New York Giants, but it was a good one when it came to the NFC East playoff race. While the Giants rested for the stretch run, the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins lost, meaning the Giants remain alone in first place. The Dallas Cowboys ruined an otherwise perfect day with a victory to keep their hopes alive.

Let's break down the race for the NFC East title as the Giants return to work on Monday to prepare for a critical game in Landover, Md. against the Redskins.

NFC East Standings

New York Giants 5 5 0 .500 3-2 2-3 2-2 4-4
Washington Redskins 4 6 0 .400 4-1 0-5 1-1 4-3
Philadelphia Eagles 4 6 0 .400 2-3 2-3 2-2 3-5
Dallas Cowboys 3 7 0 .300 1-4 2-3 2-2 2-6

Giants (5-5)

The Giants return to work with not only the NFC East title on the line, but quite possibly the future direction of the franchise. As Keane referenced in this morning's notebook, co-owner John Mara didn't deny in his 2014 season-ending press conference that 2015 could be a "win or else" season, saying "I do not think that is an unfair statement."

That means it is possible that two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Coughlin could be entering the final six games of his legendary coaching career. It is also possible, although seemingly much less likely given the fact that its been nearly four decades since the Giants fired a general manager, that these games could be a referendum on Jerry Reese.

Coughlin and Reese both made certain to -- repeatedly -- point out during the bye week that the Giants are in first place. Which they are, and there is no doubt Giants control their own destiny. Problem is, as every Giants fan knows, that despite the defensive deficiencies of this team the Giants had an opportunity over their first 10 games to basically put the division away. Their own bumbling was the difference in four losses that came in the final two minutes, three of those in the final seconds. That bumbling has left even the 3-7 Cowboys feeling like they have a chance, and could still doom the Giants to a fourth straight playoff-less season.

The Giants return from the bye Sunday with a road game against the Washington Redskins. It's a game that they have to win.

Remaining Schedule

11/29 -- @ Redskins
12/6 -- vs. New York Jets
12/14 -- @ Miami Dolphins
12/20 -- vs. Carolina Panthers
12/27 -- @ Minnesota Vikings
1/3 -- vs. Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

The Eagles were pathetic Sunday in a 45-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Chip Kelly's grand experiment, trying to improve a team by stripping it of many of its talented players and relying on his system, isn't working. The Eagles are also now without quarterback Sam Bradford, who did not play Sunday and is unlikely to play on Thanksgiving Day against the Detroit Lions.

The Eagles, of course, can't be counted out. They have a victory over the Giants and a Week 17 game looming at MetLife Stadium. If Philly wants to make that Week 17 game meaningful, defeating the suddenly rejuvenated Lions -- who have two wins in a row -- would be a good idea. The Eagles have a game in Foxborough against the New England Patriots looming in two weeks.

Remaining schedule

11/26 -- @ Detroit Lions
12/6 -- @ New England Patriots
12/13 -- vs. Buffalo Bills
12/20 -- vs. Arizona Cardinals
12/26 -- vs. Washington Redskins
1/3 -- @ Giants

Washington Redskins (4-6)

Contender or pretender? From week to week it is hard to know what to make of the Redskins. They were embarrassed Sunday by the unbeaten Carolina Panthers, 44-16. They are still, however, just a victory over the Giants this coming Sunday away from being tied for the lead in the division.

Best scenario for the Giants? Beat the Redskins this Sunday, then have Washington knock off the Dallas Cowboys the following week.

Remaining schedule

11/29 -- vs. Giants
12/7 -- vs. Dallas Cowboys
12/13 -- @ Chicago Bears
12/20 -- vs. Buffalo Bills
12/26 -- @ Eagles
1/3 -- @ Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys (3-7)

The Cowboys are alive! At least, they believe they are after getting Tony Romo back on Sunday and snapping a seven-game losing streak with a 24-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Thing is, because of their Week 1 victory over New York and the Giants' inability to put real distance between themselves and the rest of the division, you can't really blame the Cowboys and their fans for thinking they have an opportunity to pull off something magical.

Dallas hosts the 10-0 Panthers on Thanksgiving Day. While you're gorging yourself on your Thanksgiving feast take time to pray that the Panthers get to 11-0. Knock off the Panthers on Thursday and Dallas is going to begin to seriously believe it can make things interesting in the division. And the Cowboys might just be able to do that.

Remaining schedule

11/26 -- vs. Carolina Panthers
12/7 -- @ Redskins
12/13 -- @ Green Bay Packers
12/19 -- vs. New York Jets
12/27 -- @ Buffalo Bills
1/3 -- vs. Washington Redskins