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NFC East not playing up to its potential

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Michael Strahan

Michael Strahan is a seven-time NFL Pro Bowl selection who holds the record for sacks in a single season (22.5). He also aided in the New York Giants' historic 17-14 victory over the then-undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. He joined "FOX NFL Sunday" in 2008. Follow him on Twitter.

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I believe the NFC East has always been a division where it seems that everybody plays to the level of its competition instead of playing to the level that they should every week. Or should I say, to what they are capable of playing every week. I think right now the division is a little disappointing, especially considering how these teams played early on in the season. They had some real good games. I thought they would be better now than what they are and have better records than what they have at this mid-point in the season. The biggest issue right now for Dallas is its offense. They can't produce any points. They can't generate anything and they are not consistent. I am talking about their passing game and their running game, and none of their stars are producing. Miles Austin ... I think teams have figured him out and are covering him a little tighter. Teams have kind of eliminated him and he was such a huge factor for them during their winning streak. The bad thing for the Cowboys is that no one has stepped up. Roy Williams, well, it's hard to justify that trade and deal right now. And even with the three-headed monster at running back, this offense isn't totally working. Yes, they got Felix Jones more involved against the Redskins, which was great, but to me, it looks like Tashard Choice may be their best choice. Is he the most consistent guy running the ball and catching it out of the backfield? Maybe not. But he does everything well. Marion Barber doesn't look like the every-down back that they wanted him to be. And Tony Romo and Jason Witten, neither has been a major factor, either. Now, defensively, they have done a good job of keeping the offense in the game. But at some point that is going to give because there are going to be some games when the offense is going to have to score some points. Or more than seven! The Giants ... they have been inconsistent on the opposite end, the defensive side. I'm not saying they are lighting it up on offense, even though they had a very good game against the Falcons, but defensively their inconsistency has been giving up points in the fourth quarter. They are not playing with that intensity for all four quarters. That's the Giants' main problem right now. How do you improve on that? I think it's about attitude, not about talent. I know they have some young players and they have Antonio Pierce out now, and they lost a talented safety in Kenny Phillips early on. That has really hurt them. But they have enough talent, enough guys who have been in those situations, to lead and help the others get through it. The Giants' defensive line has to play better. Any time you have injuries in the secondary or the linebacker position that's when the defensive line has to say, 'Hey, we are the bread and butter of this team. We are the heart of this defense. We have to step up our game.' But so far, they have done it a little bit, but they have also been a little inconsistent in doing it.
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Can the Giants move a cornerback to safety? Yes, you can. I think Aaron Ross would be the logical choice even though I have seen Corey Webster do it as well. But Webster has been at cornerback the entire season and Ross is just kind of getting back into the groove. I think they are all talented enough to play back there at safety; all these cornerbacks could do it. The key is whether or not any of them are physical enough to play safety. And I believe Ross is definitely physical enough to do it. The Eagles are still right there. This is a division where all three of these teams are all going to be close. This is rarely a division where a team runs away with the division and is 12-4 while everyone else is 8-8 or worse. This is a division that always goes down until the last weekend of the season. I believe the Eagles are right there in the mix. Now, the Eagles have had their inconsistencies as well. Donovan McNabb has had a good year, not a great year, and their defense has played well at times and other times they haven't. Just remember the Raiders game.

Who Is No. 1?

I would have to say that Minnesota and New Orleans are the two best teams in the NFC right now and if I had to pick, I'd say Minnesota. To me, the Saints have appeared a lot more vulnerable and closer to losing than the Vikings have this month. I really think that Minnesota losing to Pittsburgh has kind of helped them and got them back on track. And they've got their heads screwed on right. I mean, that loss told them that they had to work hard every week and they are vulnerable to losing if they don't show their best stuff. And if they turn over the ball, it can be their un-doing as well. I think losing at Pittsburgh earlier in the season could turn out great for Minnesota. I mean, the Saints seem to be squeaking by here and there even though they had a big game on the road against the Bucs. The Saints just seem more vulnerable to me than the Vikings. I know the Saints' defense is much improved, but if you can get a team to score some points against them I just don't know if they are good enough to consistently stop people. When you are a player and winning and winning and winning, you tend to get a little arrogant and get cocky and start to take advantage of your situation. So, when you get in the playoffs you may not understand what losing really is. And you get a team that is as hungry as you are and really tests you and the next thing you know you are home watching for the rest of the season.

Polamalu: Definitely one of the best

Pittsburgh losing in Kansas City and last week at home to the Bengals does really surprise me. They played again without Troy Polamalu. His knee is hurting him again. But it is amazing to me how much this one player can change a team. And he's a great example of that. I know that Ben Roethlisberger got hurt there at the end in Kansas City and had to take a seat, but Polamalu seems to be the heart and soul of that team on both sides of the ball. And he supplies the energy that drives them. I don't think there's any doubt about that. He may be one of the greatest players in the league. He just makes plays. He's a playmaker. I just think with his effort and the way he plays he can't help but inspire his teammates.

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