NFC East Stock Watch


1. DeSean Jackson, Eagles receiver. It's hard to believe Jackson can just keep falling every week. Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia Eagles benched their star wideout for missing a team meeting. Last week, he got a taunting penalty that cost them 50 yards of field position in a game against the Giants. And on Sunday, after dropping two touchdown passes in a loss to the Patriots, Jackson was benched by Eagles coach Andy Reid in the fourth quarter. Jackson is clearly consumed by his contract situation, and he seems to be playing ultra-cautiously in an effort to avoid injury. That's not going to help his standing with the Eagles' front office, and at this point there's no way to know how much of a factor we can expect Jackson to be for the rest of the season. The likelihood that he plays elsewhere next year has never been higher.

2. Giants' defense. Tom Coughlin came right out and said it after Monday night's loss to the Saints: "When we don't get to the passer, we have trouble." Opposing offenses have been changing up their protections to keep the Giants' defensive linemen off their quarterbacks, and the result is the Giants' deficiencies in coverage are being exposed. They can't afford to blitz because that makes them even more vulnerable in coverage, so the down linemen are left to find a way through the extra blockers to give the defense a chance.

3. Nate Allen, Eagles safety. The Eagles' loss was thorough enough that it's almost hard to pick on any one particular defensive player. But the second-year safety had one of his worst games as a pro Sunday, and was front and center for several of the big plays with which the Patriots dismantled the Eagles' defense. Those included Wes Welker's 41-yard touchdown catch, Deion Branch's 63-yard and 23-yard catches and a missed tackle on tight end Aaron Hernandez. Allen shows talent and promise, and every young guy's going to have rough games. This was an especially rough one for Allen.


1. Roy Helu, Redskins running back. The Redskins' running game returned in a big way Sunday, and the rookie Helu was the star of the show. Helu had 108 yards on 23 carries, caught seven passes for 54 more yards and turned in that electrifying 28-yard touchdown run during the Redskins' second-half comeback. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said Monday that Helu would remain the starting running back. Shanahan had been hesitant to give Helu a starter's workload earlier in the season, and it's possible he could back him off some down the stretch in order to preserve him for next year. But as long as the Redskins are trying to win games, it seems Helu is going to have to be a big part of that.

2. Laurent Robinson, Cowboys receiver. Just as everyone predicted before the season, the Cowboys' offense right now is keyed around Robinson and rookie running back DeMarco Murray. Robinson has been Tony Romo's favorite target in recent weeks, especially in the end zone, and the productivity of players like Dez Bryant and Jason Witten has even suffered a bit as a result. Robinson has become much more than just an adequate replacement for injured wide receiver Miles Austin, and there's no reason to think the Cowboys won't continue to make him a big part of their offense even when and if Austin is healthy enough to return.

3. Cowboys' playoff hopes. The Giants' third straight loss gave the Cowboys a one-game lead in the division, and with the remaining schedule in their favor they might need to win only one of their two head-to-head matchups against New York to be division champs. If Dallas wins in Arizona on Sunday and the Giants lose at home to the Packers, the Cowboys might be able clinch the NFC East with a victory over the Giants on Dec. 11 in Dallas.