NFL Playoff Picture 2011: Giants, Eagles Among NFC East Contenders

Written by SB Nation's Ryan Van Bibber.

After a wild free agency period, pundits handed this division to the Philadelphia Eagles. All the Eagles did was go on a player spending spree becoming the norm for professional teams in the mid-Atlantic region. The feather in their cap was cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Of course, winning in this division is nothing to be taken for granted, and the lockout had the strange effect of putting the normally well-prepared Andy Reid Eagles behind the eight ball, most notably on defense with a converted offensive line coach running the show and little power and speed up the middle. Now, it looks like things are finally starting to gel in Philly. 

The New York Giants hold the division lead, but a comeback win over the Dolphins last week signals an upcoming free for all in the second half of the season. Give the Giants credit, injuries hit them unusually hard this year, but they've managed to play their way to a 5-2 start.

Erratic has become the norm in Dallas, and the return of Tony Romo this season has only fueled more controversy and strange play. Prime time games, something the networks continue to demand from Dallas, seem to be a real problem. Washington fell back to Earth after a strong start to the season. Injuries at skill positions have hampered the offense, along with Rex Grossman and John Beck, neither or whom are capable of taking this team any further. 

Here's how the NFC East breaks down heading into Week 9:

1. New York, 5-2

2. Philadelphia, 3-4

3. Dallas, 3-4

4. Washington, 3-4

The NFC East can always be counted on for a good wild card battle, and with the exception of Washington, all three teams in this division have a shot at one of those extra playoff berths. Dallas is probably too shaky to make it happen, but their unpredictable nature makes them paradoxically easy and hard to write off at the halfway point. 

Predicted Division Winner: Like I said above, Philadelphia seems to be coming together, after failing to meet unreasonable expectations early in the year. New York travels to New England and San Francisco before a Week 11 home game against the Eagles. Philly plays at home against the Bears and the Cardinals, setting up a showdown with the Giants for control of the division. 

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