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The Bye Week Worked Out Well for the Giants

The Redskins don't look like much worry anymore

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    The Redskins were whipped on the field and are hurting off of it.

    Eli Manning didn't throw a pass on Sunday and Jason Pierre-Paul didn't come up with a sack, but it was still a pretty good day for the Giants.

    They now have a full game lead over the rest of the NFC East thanks to the Redskins' loss to the Panthers -- and injuries to Tim Hightower and Santana Moss leave them looking unlikely to bounce right back -- and the entire playoff picture is setting up pretty well for the Giants.

    The Lions have now lost two straight, puncturing the hype balloon that inflated around them during their five wins to open the season, and the NFC West isn't going to have a Wild Card contender this season.

    The Buccaneers keep losing players to injuries, making the Bears' victory over them a bit less impressive than it might have appeared at first glance. And the Dolphins, next week's opponent, are even more lost than they were when the week began as a result of allowing Tim Tebow to lead the Broncos from 15 points down in the fourth quarter before winning the game in overtime.

    It may seem odd to think about the Wild Card race when the Giants are 4-2 and in the drivers seat in the division, but when you have their schedule over the last nine games you can't ignore the total playoff picture. The NFC isn't larded with great teams this season so there isn't much chance that there's going to be a team with 10 wins stuck on the outside looking in again this year.

    The one development that could be seen as a serious threat to the Giants was the Cowboys' 34-7 victory over the Rams. DeMarco Murray ran wild, finishing with a franchise-record 253 yards and giving Dallas yet another weapon to deploy on offense while Rob Ryan's defense keeps offenses from feeling comfortable.

    On top of that, the Cowboys didn't exactly strut their stuff against a good team. As you'll recall from Week Two, the Rams are a terrible team and beating them isn't exactly a sign that Dallas is headed for amazing things the rest of the way.

    While it is true that the Cowboys look like a playoff contender (something they've done every week despite losing three times), the timing of their ascension works well for the Giants.

    They play at Philadelphia next Sunday, a game that will either end the Eagles' hopes of making a real run at the division title or will leave both the Cowboys and Eagles at 3-4 while the Giants should be 5-2 unless they lay the biggest egg of all time at home against Miami.

    That's what we call a win-win situation for a team that is suddenly seeing everything fall into place for them. None of these results do anything to ensure the Giants keep winning for the rest of the season, of course, but they do help provide a cushion that makes it a little less necessary for the team to feel overly pressured by the stumbles that will likely come over the final nine games of the season.

    If the Giants don't fold completely down the stretch, the playoffs should be there for the taking. You can't ask much more for a weekend that involved little more than rest and relaxation.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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