The NFC East Championship Game

IRVING, Texas -- Why this Sunday is the de facto NFC East Championship Game, and other assorted musings from atop the Fish barstool.

  • Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey says, "This is 'The Game of the Year' for the New York Giants and we're ready for it."

    Newsflash for Shockey: This is "The Game of the Year'' for the Cowboys, too.

    If Dallas wins Sunday in New York, the Cowboys will be 8-4 and essentially have a two-game lead over the Giants. A two-game lead with four to play. Plus the head-to-head tiebreaker edge. Plus a 7-2 record in the NFC, the third tiebreaker with any conference competition.

    They will be sitting pretty. ... and really, sitting pretty in comparison with some of the other NFC entrants, too.

    In the succeed-in-NY scenario, the Cowboys would need to simply win one more of the final four to be in the playoff mix, and two of the final four to have a shot at being in charge.

    What of Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Carolina, you say? Aren't they at least as good as Dallas?

    Indeed. But those four teams are about to enter the final month of the season in a round-robin-style cage match. Tampa plays Carolina once. Atlanta plays Tampa once. And Carolina and Atlanta play each other twice.

    Somebody – maybe two somebodies in there – is going down.

    So if this weekend the Giants go down, too, the Cowboys can go up. Way up.

  • Hey, Sean Payton, did you hear that you're going to be a finalist for the Lions job? But, um, don't pack your bags just yet.

    Payton, of course, is a key Dallas assistant under Bill Parcells. He is considered bright and promising and heck, he might have already been a head coach by now if he found Oakland to have been a better fit.

    So speculating on his future success doesn't seem like much of a dice roll. And, when the gossip comes from someboby like ESPN's respected John Clayton, it might all fit.

    Except ...

    Clayton's story including Payton as a Lions' prospect also mentions as prospects: Dick Jauron, interim coach, Detroit; Mike Martz, head coach, St. Louis; Brian Billick, head coach, Baltimore; Norv Turner, head coach, Oakland; Jim Bates, defensive coordinator, Green Bay; Tim Lewis, defensive coordinator, N.Y. Giants; Donnie Henderson, defensive coordinator, N.Y. Jets; Russ Grimm, offensive line coach, Pittsburgh; Jim Schwartz, defensive coordinator, Tennessee; Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator/assistant head coach, Washington: and Al Saunders, offensive coordinator, Kansas City.

    And all I'm saying is, that's not exactly "narrowing down'' the potential candidates. What was it, 13 guys? Geez, why not also include the late Vince Lombardi on there, and maybe Knicks coach Larry Brown, and cover every single base?

  • I haven't spoken personally to Michael Irvin yet. I am anxious to do so. Among the million questions I must ask is this one, that I just thought of after reading the citation given Irvin by the cops: "Michael, you said you patted down your friend/brother/friend-who-is-so-close-to-me-that-he's-like-a-brother, and that you found a pipe on him.

    But the police report said that when cops looked under your carseat, they found not only the pipe. AND they found the sunglasses case it was in. AND a lighter. AND some baggies with pot residue.

    Michael, were those items on the person of your patted-down buddy? Or were they all in the case together? Or were some of the items already under the seat?

    Or did Miguel Tejada, trying to administer a B-12 shot, mistakenly inject the drugs into your (car)seat?

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