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Cowboys keeping pace in shocking NFC East race

Dallas, New York, and Philadelphia are now a combined 17-3 after seven weeks.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a while since the NFC East could boast that it had the best team in the conference. Now, at least after these first seven weeks of the 2022 season, it arguably has the top three. The Cowboys, Eagles, and Giants just keep winning and have an incredible 17-3 combined record going into Week 8.

While Philadelphia got to stay unbeaten during their bye week, Dallas and New York were back to work in Week 7. The Cowboys welcomed QB Dak Prescott back and handled business against the Detroit Lions, while the Giants went down to Jacksonville and picked up another hard-fought victory over the Jaguars.

Even the Commanders, now an afterthought in the division race, got a win last Sunday. Washington improved to 3-4 and added to the Green Bay Packers’ frustrations, keeping themselves in the conversation as a wild card hopeful.

But the real story is how the other NFC East teams have suddenly become the class of the conference. Only the 5-1 Minnesota Vikings are with them in the standings, and even they are a little suspect after a 24-7 loss to the Eagles in Week 2 and narrowly edging teams like the Lions, Bears, and Saints.

We’re closing in on the halfway point of the 2022 season and playoff talk will soon be more appropriate. But it’s still interesting to note that the NFC East would make up nearly half of the bracket if it started now, sending its three winning teams and even Washington narrowly missing the cut. Right now, the 3-3 Los Angeles Rams would get in as the third wild card and are only a half-game ahead of the Commanders.

The Week 8 schedule presents some intrigue throughout the division. The key game has the Giants traveling to Seattle for the NFC West-leading Seahawks. It’s one of the tougher matchups that New York has faced so far this year and a good opportunity for them to finally get another loss.

To benefit from a potential falter by the Giants, the Cowboys need to get their sixth win by handling the Bears. Chicago is coming off a big win in their 33-14 drubbing of the Patriots, but they’d lost three straight prior to that and are still hampered at quarterback. Dallas’ defense will hopefully continue Justin Fields’ tough education.

The Battle for Pennsylvania doesn’t feel like much of a fight this year. The Steelers are a dismal 2-5 so far in what’s become a rebuilding season. After getting their clock cleaned in a 35-point loss to the Bills a few weeks ago, Pittsburgh doesn’t feel like a team that’s going to challenge the Philadelphia Eagles now.

The Commanders get a good chance at building a winning streak in their matchup with the Indianapolis Colts. With QB Matt Ryan just benched and Sam Ehlinger yet to throw his first NFL pass, Washington could take advantage of Indy’s disarray and get to a .500 record.

Things will get even more interesting in the weeks ahead. We still haven’t seen the Eagles and Giants head to head, and the Vikings still have three more upcoming games against NFC East opponents. And now that Dak is back in Dallas, the Cowboys are still proving where they truly rank among the conference elite.

With more heads turning toward the NFL’s hottest division, we’ll see how the NFC East responds in Week 8.

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