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NFC East: Week 7 Preview and Point Spreads

After their beat down of the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, the Giants appear to be pulling away as the class of the division. However, as is often the case with the NFC East, there are no truly bad teams to be found here. The Cowboys narrowly lost to the Baltimore Ravens, one of the AFC’s best teams, while RGIII showed why he was the second overall pick against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, and why the Redskins offense has a limitlessly bright future. The only team that really looks bad is the Eagles, and even they are 3-3. It’s a cliché at this point, but it holds true: the NFC East really is the best (or at least the most competitive) division in football. The Eagles get a much-needed bye this week after Andy Reid fired Eagles’ defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, so we’ve only got two games in the division this Sunday, though one’s a divisional doozy between the Giants and ‘Skins. Let’s take a look at the spreads and make some picks.

Washington Redskins (+6) at New York Giants, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

What to make of this one? The Giants had perhaps the most impressive win of the season by any team last week against the 49ers. They didn’t just beat the team that many consider to be the best squad in the NFC; they downright smoked them, beating them 26-3 while picking off Alex Smith three times. The Redskins, meanwhile, beat a frisky Minnesota Vikings team on the unbelievable performance of Robert Griffin III, who turned in perhaps the signature play of the whole season by running for a 76-yard touchdown run on a quarterback draw. (He rushed for 138 yards on 13 carries for the day, averaging a mind-boggling 10.6 yards per carry.)

Still, despite RGIII solidifying as bid as the Rookie of the Year, this line feels right. The Giants are playing fantastically right now, and their defense, particularly their secondary, has come together better than many expected. The Giants crowd is going to be absolutely blood thirsty for RGIII, and it’s not hard to envision him throwing a couple of ugly picks here. He’s been relatively turnover-free for the first couple weeks of his rookie campaign, and that can’t last forever (see Alex Smith’s game against the G-Men last week). I think the Giants d-line gets to Griffin, and gets to him frequently. I like the Giants by a touchdown at home here.

Dallas Cowboys (-1) at Carolina Panthers, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

The outcome of this game will depend on how well Carolina utilized their bye week and how banged up Dallas’ defense actually is. They lost crucial personnel on both sides of the ball against the Ravens, including running back DeMarco Murray and rookie corner back Morris Claiborne. While Carolina’s defense may be miserable, it’s offense can still move the ball, and if Dallas doesn’t have Claiborne, Panthers QB Cam Newton could march on them with relative ease. The Murray injury also has to be particularly frustrating for the Cowboys, as they showed a renewed commitment to the running game in the match against the Ravens, rushing all over them in the first half. That sort of clock management, ground and pound game is an ideal fit for the Dallas offense, particularly Tony Romo, who is frequently at his best working out of play action. However, if they lose Murray for any extended period of time, the run-first play-calling in the Ravens game could be the exception instead of the rule for the Dallas offense this season. Still, I like the Cowboys here. If Miles Austin and Dez Bryant can’t get loose against this dismal Panthers secondary, they never will. Take the Cowboys at -1.

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