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NFC East standings: Giants face uphill battle

Beating the Ravens was a start, but the Giants have their work cut out for them to get back into the NFC East race.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants (3-3) got a much-needed 27-23 win Sunday, outlasting the Baltimore Ravens. The offense had sputtered through five weeks, but Eli Manning (403 yds, 3 TDs) and Odell Beckham Jr. (222 yds, 2 TDs) rebounded in spectacular fashion.

The defense upheld its end as well, overcoming three turnovers and another long day (the Giants lost the time of possession battle, again, 35-25) to hold off Joe Flacco and company.

As big a victory as this was, other developments in the NFC East show the Giants’ work is only just beginning. The Dallas Cowboys are scary-good so far in 2016. The Philadelphia Eagles look to have found their future in rookie QB Carson Wentz, and the Washington Redskins hold a win over Big Blue. At MetLife, no less. Let’s assess the NFC East through six weeks.

1. Dallas Cowboys (5-1), Week 7: bye

How about ‘dem Boys? Like it or not, the Dallas Cowboys are the class of the division. They’re arguably the class of the entire NFC, after dominating Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field Sunday. The score was 30-16, and it wasn’t that close.

Since dropping the 2016 opener to the Giants, Dallas has won five straight. Most impressive of all, they’re doing it with rookies under-center and in the backfield. QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliot have already etched their names in record books.

Prescott threw 176 passes before he was intercepted for the first time, surpassing Tom Brady (162) for the longest such stretch to begin a career. He became the first rookie QB since Matt Ryan to win a game at Lambeau.

Elliot is the NFL’s leading rusher with 703 yards, the second highest total in a players’ first six games (Erick Dickerson, 787). LeSean McCoy is the closest to him with 587 yards. Elliot has been dominant. On Sunday, he became the only rookie in league history to run for 130+ yards in four consecutive games.

Dallas’ offensive line is arguably the best in football, and they maximize their strengths by avoiding turnovers and committing to the run. The defense is still shaky, but they keep them off the field. Dallas leads the NFL in time of possession, holding the ball more than 33 minutes per game.

2. Washington Redskins (4-2), Week 7: @ Lions

The Redskins have reversed their fortunes after an 0-2 start to 2016. Starting with the Giants in Week 3, Washington has run off four straight victories. They capped it off by beating the Eagles, 27-20, in Week 6, behind 135 yards rushing from Matt Jones.

Their much-maligned defense limited Wentz to 11 completions for under 200 yards passing. Fantasy-owners everywhere picked up Ryan Mathews after pundits tabbed him to have a breakout day against the ‘Skins susceptible run defense. The result was a 60-yard performance as Washington held the Eagles to 94 yards as a team.

QB Kirk Cousins, along with Jones, helped keep their defense fresh by keeping the Eagles off the field. According to Hogs Haven, there was one stretch where Washington kept the Eagles offense on the sideline for over an hour of real time.

Washington hopes to have TE Jordan Reed (concussion) back next week for a winnable game against the Lions in Detroit.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (3-2), Week 7: vs. Vikings

The Eagles are tied with the Dallas Cowboys atop the NFL in time of possession. Beginning to notice a trend here? Wentz has been able to establish the short passing game, allowing Philly to sustain drives and keep their defense on the sideline.

Things haven’t gone their way of late, however. After starting 3-0, including a 34-3 route of the Pittsburgh Steelers no one saw coming, the Eagles haven’t won a game in nearly a calendar month. They lost to the Lions in Week 5, their first game out of their bye week, and went down in Washington Sunday. Things won’t get easier next week, when they host the undefeated Minnesota Vikings.

The Cowboys aren’t the same team the Giants beat to start the season and the Redskins are finding their rhythm. The Eagles are the low-hanging fruit in the division. If the Giants can get a victory over the Los Angeles Rams in London next week, they’ll go into their bye week third in the NFC East. They’ll host Philadelphia the following week, with a chance to get another leg up in the division.