After this coming Sunday, all 32 NFL teams will have played at least half of their 2011 schedule. That includes the Washington Redskins (3-4) and San Francisco 49ers (6-1), two teams heading in opposite directions. The Redskins have dropped three in a row to fall below .500 and wipe out any early-season momentum the team had established in Mike Shanahan's second year at the helm. San Francisco, meanwhile, has won its past five games, most recently against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. First year head coach is on the fast track to a potential Coach of the Year Award if he can keep San Francisco in position for their first playoff berth since 2002.
For as poorly as the 'Skins have played in recent weeks, they are in no way out of it in the NFC East. The division leading New York Giants hold a two-game lead on Washington, Dallas and Philadelphia, all of whom are 3-4, but the Redskins won the first of two matchups against the Giants and are really only one game back of New York provided they beat the Giants when the teams meet again at The Meadowlands in mid-December.
As for the NFC West? Not quite the same type of drama still to sort itself out. The 49ers hold a four game lead and a temporary tiebreaker over the second place Seattle Seahawks through just eight weeks. The 49ers might have the division wrapped up by Thanksgiving at this pace.