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NFC East leads league in dysfunction

If there were such a thing as a Dysfunction Draft, my No. 1 pick would be …
not those nut-job women from "The View." Not Britney Spears. Not the Auburn football coach search committee.

Not Stevie and Lefty. Not Rod and Patti Blagojevich. Not Curt Schilling and Manny Ramirez.

With the first overall selection, I'd take, ta-da, the NFC East, home to four of the most certifiably crazy teams this side of Tom Cruise and Oprah's couch. It's the only division that needs a 24-hour counseling hotline.

It isn't the winningest division (the NFC South has 36 victories), but each of its teams has a .500 or better record. The New York Giants are 11-3, the Dallas Cowboys are 9-5, the Philadelphia Eagles are 8-5-1 and the Washington Redskins are 7-7.


This was supposed to be the toughest division in the NFL, and, depending on what happens in the NFC South, it might end up that way. But nobody can argue against the NFC East's being, team for team, football crisis for football crisis, a four-car train wreck you can't quit staring at.

There are better team meltdowns in the league this season. The Detroit Lions couldn't win the Meineke Car Care Bowl if West Virginia spotted them a touchdown.
The Brett Favre-less Green Bay Packers are 5-9 and already eliminated from playoff consideration. The Jacksonville Jaguars might be the biggest disappointment in the NFL. Or is it the San Diego Chargers?

But for sheer volume, for your controversy bang for your controversy buck, the NFC East is worth its own cable channel.

On Nov. 28, the Giants were 10-1 and speed skating toward the best record in the conference, perhaps even the league. Home-field advantage throughout the playoffs appeared to be a near lock.

The next morning, wide receiver Plaxico Burress decided to start his own personal gun club, and the rest, including the remainder of Burress' season, is history. The Giants are 1-2 since he accidentally shot himself, got arrested and was drop-kicked by the team.

I thought the Giants would be fine without him, but that was before running back Brandon Jacobs' knee phoned in sick, before the O-line forgot how to pass block and before linebacker Antonio Pierce started making mistakes. The Giants had a chance to step on the Cowboys' neck Sunday, but instead slipped and fell 20-8.

The Giants already have clinched the division, but if they lose to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night at Giants Stadium, the Panthers will earn overall home-field advantage for the playoffs. I'm sure the understanding New York media and Giants fan base will be OK with that.

Then there's the living, breathing miniseries known as the Cowboys. I love these guys. They're a human food fight, slinging Jello and mashed potatoes at each other, then pretending nothing ever happened. They're the equivalent of John Belushi's Bluto in "Animal House" -- brilliantly dumb.

Owner Jerry Jones goes rogue and pops off about injured running back Marion Barber. Terrell Owens has his usual hissy fits. Jason Witten and Tony Romo are suspected by teammates to have a secret playbook pact. And who knows whether coach Wade Phillips will be a Cowboys employee next season.

The Cowboys seem to be on a self-destruct timer. The question is, will it go off before or after the end of the season? Until then, they're talented enough to win a Super Bowl and fragile enough to miss the playoffs. That's part of their charm.

T.O., Witten and Romo (he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize) played nice for the NBC cameras Sunday night. But let's see what happens if the Baltimore Ravens put the squeeze on the Cowboys on Saturday evening at Texas Stadium.

Meanwhile, all you need to know about the state of the Redskins is that coach Jim Zorn had this to say about his recent job performance: "I just feel like the worst coach in America."

The Redskins started the season 6-2 but are 1-5 since the halfway point. Zorn recently got into it with the hardest-working tailback in show business, Clinton Portis. (Portis facetiously called Zorn a "genius.") And they lost 20-13 to the previously one-win Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, which prompted Zorn to announce Monday that he will reassess his entire coaching philosophy.

"I feel sick to my stomach even thinking about having to go and do this kind of evaluation," he said.

The good news is that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has a history of patience and understanding. Oh, wait, no he doesn't. Snyder is the kind of guy who would fire Santa for violating a company-wide no-beard policy. Anyway, it will take an act of God for Washington to reach the January wild-card games.

Relatively speaking, the Eagles are the sanest team in the division. Coach Andy Reid might be out of a job at season's end. And Donovan McNabb, who was benched by Reid earlier in the year, might be playing his last two regular-season games with the franchise. And running back Brian Westbrook has duct-taped his battered body back together each week. But other than that, all is well, especially after Monday night's 30-10 win over the Cleveland Browns.

Despite all the NFC East drama, the Eagles still could squirm into the playoffs. The psycho Cowboys control their postseason destiny, which is a scary thought. And the Giants, especially if Jacobs and his knees return to the lineup, never will be an easy playoff out.

Two weeks left. Hotline operators are standing by.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com.