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Division Rundown: A Race Emerges After Week 10
If you conceded that the New York Giants would win the NFC East a few weeks ago then you wouldn’t be the only one. But you may have spoken too soon. Week 10 saw the Giants continue to struggle and the Cowboys win the “Desperation Bowl.”
New York Giants 6-4
Dallas Cowboys 4-5
Philadelphia Eagles 3-6
Washington Redskins 3-6
The Giants looked shaky two weeks ago when they barely held on to a victory over the Cowboys after blowing a 23-point lead. They looked like they had a number of weaknesses to address in their loss to Pittsburgh last week. Last Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, they just looked plain bad.
Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton torched the New York secondary to the tune of four touchdown passes. It has been established that the secondary is perhaps the Giants’ greatest weakness. It’s not that their defensive backs haven’t had any good games, but they have relied greatly on their pass rush to help them make plays. Dalton was not sacked once against the Bengals.
Eli Manning, on the other hand, was sacked four times. And the result was another poor performance by the Super Bowl MVP. Manning’s terrible slump has gone slightly unnoticed the past few weeks, but in the last three games, his highest quarterback rating was 58.4. In comparison, Tony Romo’s lowest QB rating of the season was 58.3.
Against the Bengals, the New York offense accounted for four turnovers (two interceptions, two lost fumbles). With a tough schedule ahead, the Giants are only two wins ahead of the Cowboys for the division lead.
The Cowboys’ victory over the Eagles may not have looked overly impressive, but Dallas was able to do exactly what they needed to do in order to get the win. In fact, the Cowboys were able to do a lot of things that they haven’t been able to do most of the season.
The turnover margin and the running game have probably been the two biggest problems for Dallas all year. On Sunday against the Eagles, the Cowboys had no turnovers as Tony Romo actually had a quietly efficient game, posting a 122.1 passer rating.
But the story of the day was probably the two turnovers the Cowboys forced on the Eagles. Both of them resulted in defensive scores for Dallas that sealed a victory. The first was a Nick Foles interception by Brandon Carr, which was taken back 47 yards for a score. The final straw was a fumble by Foles that was recovered in the end zone by Jason Hatcher. This was all kicked off by a 78-yard punt return by Dwayne Harris that resulted in his first career touchdown.
The Cowboys were also able to rush for 101 yards. This is certainly not all that impressive a number, but it is a great improvement over their recent rushing numbers and presumably starting running back DeMarco Murray is inching his way back to full health after having surgery on his foot.
For a few minutes in the third quarter, it seemed like the Eagles had struck gold with quarterback Nick Foles, who had come into the game after Michael Vick suffered a concussion. The rookie looked cool and collected in his first ever NFL game, and in the heat of the moment, he was even able to find a wide-open Jeremy Maclin for his first career touchdown pass.
But then reality sunk in. And the reality is that Vick was not necessarily the Eagles’ problem. The problem is that no quarterback is going to be successful with the offensive line that Philadelphia put on the field. This makeshift front (four of the five starters were out with injuries) actually played one of their better games together on Sunday. But, that’s not saying much.
The worst team in the NFL in terms of turnovers did not disappoint on Sunday. They may have only had two, but in typical Eagles fashion, they managed to both be defensive touchdowns for the Cowboys.
What’s left in Philadelphia are a lot of questions. What’s the status of Vick? How much time does Andy Reid have as head coach? Why isn’t LeSean McCoy more involved in the offense?
A few of these questions may be answered sooner rather than later.
The Redskins had a bye last weekend, but with two remaining games against the Cowboys and one against the Giants, Washington may have a lot of say in the race for the NFC East title.
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys suffered another tough loss to their defense when defensive lineman Kenyon Coleman went down in the second quarter against the Eagles with a torn triceps. The injury will likely require season-ending surgery. There is still no exact timetable on the return of running back DeMarco Murray from a foot injury, but he will likely be able to get back on the field in the next couple of weeks.
New York Giants: The Giants’ blowout loss to the Bengals was made worse when it became known that rookie defensive tackle Markus Kuhn likely suffered a torn ACL that will end his season. Ahmad Bradshaw also suffered an undisclosed minor injury, receiving X-rays. The Giants will enter their bye this week, so will be able to rest their players.
Philadelphia Eagles: Against the Cowboys on Sunday, Michael Vick suffered what Andy Reid called a “pretty serious concussion.” The Eagles have made no official word whether or not Vick will make an attempt to play this week against the Redskins, but sources claim that Nick Foles is almost certainly going to be the starter.
Washington Redskins: The Redskins have suffered a number of season-ending injuries to valuable members of their team this year, but they are coming off a bye in which they were able to rest some of their banged up players. There is still no word on whether wide receiver Pierre Garcon is ready to return from injury.
NFL.com Power Rankings:
#8– New York Giants (previously #6)
#12 – Dallas Cowboys (previously #17)
#19 – Philadelphia Eagles (previously #20)
#30– Washington Redskins (previously #23)
ESPN.com NFL Power Rankings:
#10 – New York Giants (previously #5)
#15 – Dallas Cowboys (previously #18)
#21 – Washington Redskins (previously #19)
#424 – Philadelphia Eagles (previously #21)
• Although having what has been seen as a “slow season,” DeMarcus Ware actually leads the NFC East in sacks with nine on the year.
• Despite their recent slump, the Giants have proven to be the most disciplined team in the division so far by being the only one with less than 400 yards given up from penalties and having the highest turnover ratio at 11.
• After Sunday’s game against the Eagles, Romo has now thrown the most touchdowns in the division (tied with Manning), as well as the most interceptions in the division.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
Sunday, Nov. 18, Noon CT (FOX)
Cleveland Browns @ Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, Nov. 18, Noon CT (CBS)