NFC East Midseason Awards: Can anybody catch the Cowboys?

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Tony Romo has played at an elite level this season but will it be enough? (USATSI)

Without question this is the worst division in football. It's so bad, in fact, that eight wins -- and maybe even seven -- takes the NFC East. For now, the Cowboys appear to be the "frontrunners," but for as well as they've played (relatively speaking, of course), their 4-4 record is only one game better than an Eagles team (3-5) that struggles to score points. Behind them: The 2-5 Redskins and the Giants, an outfit that lost six straight before winning twice in a six-day span.

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So, yes, there's isn't a ton of quality football taking place right now. But there doesn't need to be because in all likelihood, first team to eight (seven?) wins the division.

Dallas Cowboys

MVP: Tony Romo

Surprise: Jason Hatcher

Disappointment: That defense (we can say this about them: they're not afraid to give up points)

Going Forward: At 4-4, the Cowboys just need to replicate that effort over the second half to all but wrap up the division. This team has played better than their record -- they could easily be 6-2 if not for soul-crushing losses to Denver and Detroit -- but they'll need to win the games they're supposed to down the stretch if they hope to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The biggest issue is the defense (save Jason Hatcher, who has been elite through the first two months), but the Cowboys can offset some of those problems with that high-powered offense led by franchise quarterback Tony Romo. No, seriously.

The first eight weeks in one GIF:

Good news: Jerry Jones doesn't care and, funny story, Dez Bryant didn't do anything wrong.

New York Giants

MVP: Justin Tuck

Surprise: Mike Patterson

Disappointment: Hakeem Nicks

Going Forward: Maybe the Giants should schedule their remaining games over the next two weeks. After dropping six straight and looking like the NFC's worst team in the process, they've won two in a row in the last six days. Justin Tuck may only have two sacks this season, but he has 22 quarterback hurries and grades out as the Giants' best defender -- along with Mike Patterson -- according to ProFootballFocus.com. Eli Manning, who was on pace to be the team's biggest disappointment, has stopped trying to do everything and has played better as a result. Hakeem Nicks, meanwhile, still doesn't seem completely healthy and he's struggled holding onto the ball.

While the Giants' two-game winning streak is nice, can they win six more games to get back in the division race? We're skeptical.

The first eight weeks in one GIF:

Ah, yes, there it is: Manning Face.

Philadelphia Eagles

MVP: LeSean McCoy

Surprise: Evan Mathis

Disappointment: Mychal Kendricks

Going Forward: Chip Kelly's offense hasn't revolutionized the game, and there's no indication that will happen over the next eight weeks, either. Still, the Eagles' have the league's best rushing attack, and Evan Mathis has dominated at guard, but it will probably be another season (or two) before Kelly can stock the roster with "his" players. For now, it's the revolving door of Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Matt Barkley. Then there's that defense, a huge liability in 2012 and not much better now. Kendricks rates as one of the NFL's worst linebackers, and DeMeco Ryans isn't far behind. Still, the Eagles are just one game behind the Cowboys and in a division where up is down and black is white, we wouldn't be shocked if Philly came out the other end on top.

The first eight weeks in one GIF:

Ah, the promise of what could be.

Washington Redskins

MVP: Brian Orakpo

Surprise: Tyler Polumbus

Disappointment: Robert Griffin III

Going Forward: Fans would like to see more out of Orakpo, but he's been the best player on a bad unit. Ideally, the team MVP honor would go to RG3, who has looked dreadful after missing the preseason recovering from a knee injury. He has yet to recapture his rookie form and the offense has suffered because of it. Upside: Guard Tyler Polumbus is playing out of his mind. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the power to heal Griffin's knee, or the ability to get his hands on a time machine. Which means Washington is a 2-5 team without much hope of changing their fortunes over the next nine games. Of course, we said the same thing last season, when the 'Skins started 3-6. Then coach Mike Shanahan announced the season was over and the team promptly won the division. We're just not sure Shanny has any of those magic beans left.

The first eight weeks in one GIF:

"How to fumble without getting touched."

 
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