"What do I make of the NFC East? Look, we don't have the time. I don't know where to go. All four teams need to lay down on the couch and get analyzed."
That is CBS Sports analyst Phil Simms responding on Tuesday to a question about the mediocre division the New York Giants lead with a 4-4 record. So, let's take Simms' advice. Let's put each team on Dr. Ed's therapeutic couch and analyze all four of the division's contenders/pretenders the best we can at the season's midway point.
New York Giants (4-4)
The Giants lead the division, but they are also probably the NFC East team that is the most difficult to diagnose. What the heck are they? In medical terms, the 2015 Giants suffer from a serious case of Multiple Personality Disorder.
Are they good? Are they bad? Are they smart? Are they stupid? Are they opportunistic? Are they overly generous? They are actually all of those things. The Giants' offense has had wild swings in performance. The defense, too.
Are the Giants headed to the playoffs thanks to being in a division where it looks like nine wins might be good enough? Have they already tossed away so many games they should have won that, despite being in first place, they have already flushed away their best chance at reaching the postseason?
We know that the Giants' offense can be really good, and the defense can be really, really, really bad. We know being in the NFC East is keeping the Giants in the playoff hunt. We also know that if the Giants fall short of the playoffs they will look back at the incredible, self-inflicted losses they have already suffered this season and wonder what might have been if they could have gotten out of their own way.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
The Eagles are the division's great science experiment. They are the NFL's version of the Discovery Channel show "Mythbusters." The myth the Eagles are trying to prove/disprove? Can you basically blow up a good football team that won 10 games two straight seasons, send most of the star-caliber talent packing, and be a better team despite having less talent?
Mad scientist Chip Kelly, now ruler of all that is good or bad in the Eagles empire, thinks you can. Or, at least thinks HE can.
So far, results are decidedly mixed. The Eagles have a blowout victory over the Giants, sure, but not much else. New quarterback Sam Bradford hasn't been good and as a result the offense has been pedestrian for the most part.
Thing is, the Eagles have a huge opportunity in front of them. Over their next eight games, which would take them to a Week 17 clash with the Giants, they only play two games against teams entering Week 9 with winning records -- the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals. The combined records of their other six opponents in 16-27. That schedule, and the fact that they already have a victory over the Giants, hass the Eagles with a projected 48.1 percent chance of winning the division
The Eagles and Giants could well be on a collision course for Week 17, with the winner of that Week 17 game taking the division title.
Washington Redskins (3-4)
No real diagnosis for the Redskins, except maybe for a serious case of acne. The Redskins are sort of like the division's teen-ager. The toddler training wheels are off, they seem to have made it through junior high, but they aren't quite all grown up yet. They are still experiencing growing pains. With Scot McLoughan as the general manager there are good things happening in Washington. They still, however, have Kirk Cousins at quarterback. If they ever find themselves a top-tier NFL quarterback, then it will be time to really worry about the Redskins.
Yet, they are somehow nipping at the Giants' heels demanding attention -- just like a teen-ager.
Dallas Cowboys (2-5)
Ahh, Dr. Ed's patient who is on life support. I'm not a medical doctor, so I can't offer the cure. I'm only playing psychiatrist here on my virtual couch. Beyond the injuries to Tony Romo and Dez Bryant that have crippled the Dallas offense most of the season, there are two things ailing the Dallas franchise. Ego and desperation, and both have everything to do with Cowboy owner Jerry Jones.
No owner in sports, with the possible exception of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban (what is it about Texas?) has an ego as big as Jones does. He believes he's the smartest man in the room. He wants to be the guy who gets the credit as the architect of a Super Bowl champion. He thinks he and his franchise are entitled to that throne. Which, of course, is where the desperation comes in.
The Cowboys haven't won a Super Bowl since the 1995-96 season, and even though Barry Switzer was head coach, former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson is widely credited as being the architect of a team that won three Super Bowls in the 1990s. That is a fact that still sticks in Jones' craw. He's desperate to change that. He's desperate to bring Dallas a winner. He's desperate to be given the credit. That desperation, of course, leads him to turn a blind eye to things like human decency, to sign players like the vile Greg Hardy because of his talent, and to call him a leader.
Romo isn't expected to return to action for Dallas until Week 11. The Cowboys haven't won a game since Romo went down with a broken clavicle. Perhaps by the time he returns it will already be too late for him to save them.