their three-game, NFC East road trip. There are three losses to be had.
Go figure with all this.
And when all this started back on Sept. 10, the prevailing prediction on the NFC East was a tight race. Maybe a game or two dividing all four teams. Maybe a tie for first place just waiting to happen. Certainly tiebreakers would be in vogue come New Year's Eve.
And the deciding factor?
Whoever got the best quarterback play. Hmmmm.
Because, would you look at them now, three of the four teams playing with different starting quarterbacks.
The Cowboys have benched Drew Bledsoe and gone to the previously untested Romo.
The Redskins (3-7) have benched Mark Brunell and gone to Jason Campbell, who played in his first NFL game this past Sunday.
The Eagles lost Donovan McNabb to a torn ACL, and must go with either Jeff Garcia or A.J. Feeley.
The Giants have Eli Manning still standing.
So who is in the best shape for the stretch drive?
Naturally, you would say the Giants. They've still got their original starter. But are they?
The Giants are stuck in a two-game losing streak, and Manning, well, he has a not-so robust 77.5 quarterback rating, the separation between touchdown passes to interception not acceptably wide enough at 16 to 13. He's completing less than 58 percent of his passes, and his average gain per attempt is a modest 6.59 yards.
Would it be the Redskins, with Campbell not only starting, but playing for the first time this past Sunday? Think not.
Would it be the Eagles, owning at least two veterans, Garcia and Feeley? But how good could that situation be since there wasn't exactly a free-agent bidding war for either of those quarterbacks; and here it is, Tuesday, and while Andy Reid might not be interested in handing Indianapolis a scouting report, the Eagles had yet to say (decide?) which guy would be starting Sunday.
Or might it be, in what would have been a serious leap of faith back in September, the Cowboys, now with Romo under center?
Want to argue it's not?
Your point would obviously be either Garcia or Feeley have been through this, and it's a valid one, or that Manning is a guy who now has started 35 games over the past three seasons, along with all the credentials.
Well, tell you the truth, the Eagles seemed highly dependent on McNabb. He was their guy. He was the guy who made all the difference in the world and why they had the league's top-ranked offense going into this past Sunday's game. Garcia or Feeley might be acceptable replacements, but don't fool yourself, they are no McNabb, and unlikely to be able to hoist the Eagles similarly on their backs.
Or - and assuming you don't think Campbell is going to resurrect the struggling Redskins - it would be Manning as the natural choice. Well, check that. Over the past four games since beating the Cowboys that Monday night at Texas Stadium, 36-22, the night Romo actually made his NFL play-of-consequence debut, here are Manings' numbers while leading the Giants to a 2-2 record:
He has completed 66 of 132 attempts (50 percent) for 684 yards, a paltry 5.2 yards per attempt, three touchdowns, five interceptions, seven sacks and a quarterback rating of . . . 57.13. So there might be a reason the Giants have averaged 15.2 points over those four games.
So, and I can't believe this is me saying this, of all people, huh, that the hottest quarterback going right now in the NFC East would be your Dallas Cowboys' Antonio Romo?
What is this world coming to?
Think about it: Bledsoe, McNabb, Manning, every one of them first-round picks. Brunell, a fifth-round pick, in his 14th season and a former Pro Bowler. Garcia, in his eighth NFL season, a three-time Pro Bowler with 86 starts.
And the guy you want, at least at this very moment of this very season, is Romo? The undrafted kid from Division I-AA Eastern Illinois who spent his first three NFL seasons glued to the sideline, save two snaps he kneeled with to kill the clock, and as we said, didn't participate in any snaps of consequence until the Giants game five games ago?
Now Parcells will try to water down this sort of