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NFC East standings, Week 9: Giants make big statement

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Win vs. Eagles gives playoff run legitimacy

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

If the playoffs began today, the New York Giants, at 5-3, would be in as the NFC’s first wild-card team. For as bad as things have gone at times in Ben McAdoo’s first season as head coach, Big Blue is winning more football games than they have in recent years. The Giants 2016 season has defied logic — their offense is bad and the defense isn’t quite top-tier — and bucked trends — they won after a bye and beat the Philadelphia Eagles, both firsts since 2013.

Up to Week 9, the perception was the Eagles were right behind the Dallas Cowboys (some may had even said even with them) as the best team in the NFC East. They’ve now lost two straight, to New York and Dallas, and are 0-3 in the division. The Giants, winners of their last three, have a chance to put more distance between themselves and the Eagles, and Washington Redskins, when they host the up-and-down Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football in Week 10.

Odell Beckham Jr. said after the game that 5-3 “sounds good.”

“Just trying to win the division. Starting one game at a time. Get to the playoffs, hopefully. I haven’t had a chance to be in a playoff game. It’s a one game at a time thing. You can’t look forward to that (playoffs). You have to look forward to next Monday,” Beckham said. “How we’re going to prepare for them and come out with a win. 5-3, hopefully we can go to 6-3. That puts you in a pretty good place, especially with the other teams in the division. Dallas, they’re playing at a high, high level. You have to keep winning.”

1. Dallas Cowboys (7-1), Next: @ Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)

The Cowboys blew out the Cleveland Browns, 35-10, in one of the least surprising results around the league Sunday. Outstanding rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot continued their assault on the rest of the NFL, combining for all five of Dallas’ touchdowns. It was a foregone conclusion the Cowboys would hold serve in Cleveland, all the Giants could do was take care of business against the Eagles and they did their part.

Dallas has a tougher task in front of them in Week 10. They’ll travel to Heinz Field next week to take on a seething Steelers team who just laid an egg against the Baltimore Ravens.

3. Washington Redskins (4-3-1), Next: vs. Minnesota Vikings (5-3)

The Redskins were idle in Week 9. They would’ve gained ground in the East no matter who won Giants vs. Eagles. Their tie with the Bengals last week keeps them one game up in the loss column through eight. They have a tough matchup with Minnesota next week.

The Vikings, who started the year as hot as anyone, suddenly look very beatable. They ran off five straight victories to start 2016 but have lost three straight. And we aren’t talking about the New England Patriots or Falcons or anyone of that ilk; they’ve lost to the Eagles, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-4), Next: vs. Atlanta Faclons (6-3)

With about five minutes remaining against the Cowboys last week, the Eagles looked like the class of the NFC East. Fast forward to today, they’re at the bottom of the division. Philly isn’t out of it by any stretch of the imagination, but they may have drawn the toughest week 10 matchup of the NFC East teams.

They’ll see early-MVP candidate Matt Ryan and his wrecking crew of Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman. The Falcons aren’t anything special on defense, so they’ve had to outscore opponents to win. They’ve done just that, leading the NFL with 305 points through nine games (nearly 34 points per game).