By Steve Silverman
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The Giants have played poorly in recent weeks, losing back-to-back games to a strong Pittsburgh Steelers team and a struggling Cincinnati Bengals team.

They also have a history of not playing well in the second half of the season.

Even when both of those factors are given strong consideration, it’s tough to see them giving the NFC East division lead away.

For years, the NFC East was the gold standard of professional football. All four teams in the division had genuine hate for each other and the most difficult thing for Giants fans was figuring out which opponent you hated most.

But the NFC East has become ordinary. All of the teams are quite flawed at this point and the Giants are really the only team capable of turning things around this year.

The flawed competition should help Giants coach Tom Coughlin sleep better throughout the bye week, but that’s not likely to happen. Coughlin didn’t earn his status as one of the two best coaches in the league – along with New England’s Bill Belichick – by feeling good about other teams’ weaknesses.

But the reality is that the Cowboys don’t play well in clutch situations, the Redskins are at least a year away and the Eagles, well, stink.

When the Giants rejoined the world of real professional football in 1981 and made the postseason for the first time 18 years, the NFC East became the gold standard of professional football.

History tells us that the Cowboys have won five Super Bowls, the Giants have won four and the Redskins have won three Super Bowl titles.

That’s three teams with multiple Super Bowl championships. The only other divisions that have more than one multiple Super Bowl winner are the AFC East and AFC West.

The Patriots have won three titles while the Dolphins have won two. The Raiders have won three Super Bowl titles while the Broncos have won two.

The Giants have several problems to fix if they are going to get back to Super Bowl form, but history shows that Coughlin will find a way to fix what is wrong. The schedule may be tough and the Giants may go through some difficult losses, but they are not about to choke away the division title to the Cowboys.

Dallas simply doesn’t know how to react when the money is on the table. It starts with Jerry Jones and it further manifests itself with head coach Jason Garrett.

Owning the most valuable franchise in the NFL is not good enough for Jones. He wants to be given credit as a top-level personnel man.

He’s not and until he hires a real general manager, the Cowboys will be a disappointment. When they won three Super Bowls in the early 1990s, it was largely the result of the personnel decisions that Jimmy Johnson made. Jones still tries to take credit, but Johnson engineered the Herschel Walker deal that helped turn the Cowboys into a championship team.

Jones’ desire to be the team’s front man is what drove Johnson away. Since that time, the Cowboys have usually found a way to fall apart.

The Redskins appear to be on the right track now that they have Robert Griffin III, but Mike Shanahan may not be the right man to take them further.

The Eagles are disintegrating this year. Andy Reid is almost certainly going to get fired by the end of the season and Michael Vick will no longer be the quarterback. Look for a complete housecleaning.

The weakness within the division is a good thing for the Giants this season.

But the great competition that has been a staple of the NFC East for years is now a part of history.

Call it the NFC Least? Be heard in the comments below…


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