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NFC East standings, Week 7: Giants gain valuable ground

The Giants are still in the thick of things thanks to Landon Collins, DRC & company

NFL: International Series-New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Teams don’t typically call games ‘must-win,’ much less before mid-season, but the New York Giants may have saved their 2016 campaign with back-to-back victories. After defeating the Baltimore Ravens a week ago, the Giants (4-3) head into their bye with a 17-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams (3-4) Sunday, at Twickenham Stadium in London, England.

Eli Manning and the offense continued their up-and-down year- more down than up- with 232 total yards and one scoring drive they were directly responsible for.

Landon Collins and the defense did the rest. Collins did the heavy lifting himself, returning an interception 44 yards for a score, and grabbing another which set up the Giants’ second and deciding TD.

It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win. Style points mean little. All that matters for Big Blue is gaining ground in the NFC East, the toughest division in the NFL. It’s the only division in the league where every team has a winning record. Let’s assess the race with Week 7 in the books.

1. Dallas Cowboys (5-1), Week 7: bye; Next: vs. Eagles

The Cowboys were idle in Week 7, and nothing’s changed. They’re still the team to beat, as it stands now. Their QB situation could open things up for the rest of the division though. With Tony Romo nearing a return, will Dallas have rookie sensation Dak Prescott hand the reins back over?

Doing so wouldn’t be in the team’s best interest, but Romo has built a ton of equity with owner and shot-caller Jerry Jones. If they do stick with Dak, who’s to say a couple of bad performances won’t create a Romo uprising among fans and local media? A rookie quarterback hitting a wall isn’t unprecedented. The QB situation in Dallas is one to keep an eye on for the remainder of the season, and possibly beyond.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (4-2), Week 7: 21-10 win vs. Vikings;

Next: @ Cowboys

A week after losing to the Redskins, Philly shocked the previously unbeaten Minnesota Vikings. They did it with defense, and got a huge boost from their special teams unit. WR Josh Huff took a second-quarter kick back 98 yards for the Eagles first score and they didn’t look back. Before a meaningless fourth-quarter Vikings TD, Philly led 21-3.

Carson Wentz and the offense were bad, turning the ball over four times, but the defense is scary good. They created four turnovers of their own (three by Sam Bradford). Through six, the Eagles defense is third in the NFL (Seahawks and Vikings) with 88 points allowed.

Next week’s game in Dallas has major implications for the entire division. The Giants and Eagles meet for the first time in 2016 the following week.

3. Washington Redskins (4-3), Week 7: 17-20 L vs. Lions

Next: @ Bengals

The Redskins dropped a tough one to the enigmatic Lions, who’ve won three straight after falling to the hapless Chicago Bears. A late Matthew Stafford to Anquan Boldin TD gave Detroit the lead, and they held off Kirk Cousins on the ensuing drive to seal the victory.

The loss snaps the Skins four-game winning streak, and leaves them dead even with the Giants at 4-3. They hold the tiebreaker, but will meet Big Blue again in what could be a loser goes home Week 17 matchup.

Washington may have the toughest remaining schedule in the East. In addition to their three remaining divisional games against New York, Dallas and Philadelphia, they’ll see the Vikings, Cardinals and Packers.