Breakfast links: Giants slide back to pack

Aw, man. I think the other seven division bloggers are laughing at me again. I thought it wouldn't be this way this year. Anyway, links, in updated standings order.

New York Giants (6-4)

The good folks at ESPN Stats & Information took a look at what's wrong with Eli Manning, in light of questions about whether he's dealing with a tired arm. They see a serious downward trend over the past three games in Manning's ability to throw the deep ball, and in particular his ability to connect with Victor Cruz down the field. The big plays have been missing for the Giants, and that's likely to be a focus of theirs during the bye week.

Manning did connect with Cruz on one deep ball in the fourth quarter for a sure touchdown, but Cruz dropped the ball. This is the way things are going for the Giants right now. The most reliable elements of their roster are not playing reliably right now. They have pulled out of these things in the past and likely will again. But in the meantime, they have blown a chance to put the division on ice.

Dallas Cowboys (4-5)

There are good Dez Bryant days and bad Dez Bryant days. And as Tim MacMahon writes, Sunday was the kind of day that helps you realize why the Cowboys are determined to stick with Bryant. He has the kind of talent to make game-changing plays. He made a couple of them in the victory over the Eagles.

Dwayne Harris said he knew Mat McBriar had outkicked his coverage and that he'd have a chance to return the fourth-quarter punt for a touchdown as soon as it left McBriar's foot. It was the play that changed the game, breaking a 17-17 tie and starting a fourth quarter in which the Cowboys would score twice on defense and once on special teams. It also earned Harris the spot as the punt returner on this week's edition of the All-NFC East Team. Doesn't matter if Rueben Randle's been better all year in this case. Harris is the first player in the NFC East to return a punt or a kick for a touchdown in my two seasons running the blog, and I have said since last year that whoever broke the drought would get the spot. So, congrats to Dwayne.

Philadelphia Eagles (3-6)

We do not know yet whether Michael Vick will recover from his concussion and be cleared to play Sunday against the Redskins. But Eagles coach Andy Reid made it clear after the game that, if Vick is deemed healthy enough to play, he will play and remain the starting quarterback ahead of rookie Nick Foles. This is the correct decision as long as the Eagles are not mathematically out of the playoff hunt (which they are not), and I didn't see anything Foles did Sunday to make anyone think otherwise.

Lots of people asking for names of potential candidates to replace Reid as Eagles coach, assuming this is it for him in Philadelphia. Jeff McLane took up this issue and is throwing some speculative names out there, trying to handicap each one's chances. Too early to get any real definition on this, but if you just want fun with names, have at it.

Washington Redskins (3-6)

Through his first nine games as a pro, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is "the most well-rounded and talented guy" offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan says he's ever coached. They're disappointed in Washington with their record so far, but they're nothing but thrilled with the quarterback for whom they traded three first-round picks and a second-rounder.

Are the Redskins leaning too hard on the atypical, college-style elements of the offense around Griffin? It's a worthwhile question, and the answer may well be yes. But without Pierre Garcon and Fred Davis, Griffin's best passing-game targets, and with the receivers who are playing dropping passes, it's fair to assume the Redskins can't open things up at this point.