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Sun., Dec. 21, 2014 2:45 PM to 3:00 PM CST
Division Rundown: Giants Retake Firm Division Lead
After a Thanksgiving shootout, a Sunday night blowout and a desperate Monday night game, the Giants have retaken a two game lead atop the NFC East.
New York Giants 7-4
Washington Redskins 5-6
Dallas Cowboys 5-6
Philadelphia Eagles 3-8
No team needed a bye more than the Giants did two weeks ago. They had lost two straight with Eli Manning having played his three worst games of the season consecutively.
But as you might expect, they took advantage of their time off and came into their Sunday night matchup with the Green Bay Packers prepared and looking like the defending Super Bowl champs, scoring early and often on their way to a 38-10 victory.
It’s pretty well established that the Giants can go as far as Manning can take them and he seemed to return to his former self, throwing for 249 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Giants’ offense also seemed to get their balance back. Their running back-by-committee rushed for a combined 147 yards, led by Andre Brown’s 64 yards.
Much more surprising was the fact that the Giants’ normally shaky secondary held the potent Packers’ passing game in check. Aaron Rodgers had just an 81.9 passer rating. Not coincidentally, Rodgers was sacked five times for a combined 29-yard loss.
At 7-4, the Giants are in firm control of the division with just one more game against the Washington Redskins.
If the Redskins are supposed to be planning for the future they sure seem to be having a lot of fun right now. Griffin is doing much more than proving he’s a promising rookie; he’s proving to be one of the best players in the NFL.
Griffin followed up a performance in which he had the rare perfect passer rating by coming into Cowboy Stadium and completing 20-of-28 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns.
Their other rookie, running back Alfred Morris, ran for 113 yards and a touchdown of his own. So I think it’s safe to say Washington has a bright future.
At 5-6, the Redskins, while still a long shot, have put themselves back in the playoff race. If Washington isn’t able to put together enough of a streak to reach the postseason there will surely be a number of teams happy to avoid them. They have become one of the most dangerous clubs in the league with their balanced offensive attack. Against Dallas they threw the ball 28 times and ran the ball 30. Their defense is certainly flawed, but they compensate that by controlling the time of possession.
The Cowboys were full of newfound hope on the morning of Thanksgiving. They knew that if they could defeat the Washington Redskins and Aaron Rodgers could take down the Giants then the Cowboys would be tied atop the division.
Well, Robert Griffin III came into Cowboy Stadium and sucked most of that hope right out of the building. A 28-point second quarter by the Redskins put Dallas down by 25 at halftime. From there they were just playing catch-up and they fell short, losing 38-31.
The game featured a lot of the characteristics we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from Dallas. Tony Romo throw an astounding 62 times for 441 yards. He also had two interceptions. And, the rushing game was non-existent. The Cowboys gave the ball to a running back nine times in the entire game, twice in the second half. They had a total of 35 yards rushing.
The defense played solid at times, but ultimately gave up far too many big plays to Griffin. Sitting two games behind the Giants for the division lead and losing tie-breakers to Seattle and Chicago for the wild card, the Cowboys’ only hope may be that DeMarco Murray’s eventual return can spark them with just enough momentum to stay in the running for the playoffs.
Philadelphia’s Dream Team has officially turned into a nightmare.
Against Carolina, quarterback Nick Foles seemed to solve the turnover problems that Michael Vick was causing. Foles completed an efficient 16-of-21 passes and had no interceptions. Unfortunately, he did not really make anything positive happen either as he only threw for 121 yards and no touchdowns in a 30-22 loss.
On the other hand, Cam Newton might have had his best game of the year as he threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 52 yards and two more scores.
The Eagles’ offense has lost its explosiveness and the defense has seemed to have given up hope. At 3-8 the Eagles are set to finish at the bottom of the division. Only time will tell if Vick and head coach Andy Reid are still around next season.
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys are marred with injuries. Linebacker Bruce Carter, who has shined during the absence of Sean Lee, dislocated his elbow and was put on the IR. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick broke his hand and will miss the remainder of the season. Wide receiver Miles Austin hurt his hip on the first series of the Washington game and his status is uncertain. The return of DeMarco Murray is expected to come soon, but there is still no word on whether he will play next week against the Eagles.
New York Giants: Not everything was great in the Giants’ bounce-back win over the Packers. Their leading rusher in the game, Andre Brown, broke his fibula and will miss the rest of the season. That will put a heavy burden on Ahmad Bradshaw, who has been great at times, but has shown inconsistency.
Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles played their Monday night game against the Panthers without perhaps their three most explosive players. Both Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy missed the game due to concussions. There has been no word on whether or not they will be available on Sunday night against the Cowboys. DeSean Jackson also left the game early with a sternum injury. X-Rays were negative, but he may end up missing the Sunday night game.
Washington Redskins: In the fourth quarter of a close game with the Cowboys, veteran linebacker London Fletcher was unable to stay on the field. It was the second straight game that Fletcher had to leave a game with a left ankle injury. Fletcher is the leader of an already banged up Redskin defense. He is expected to be available on Monday night against the Giants.
NFL.com Power Rankings:
#7– New York Giants (previously #8)
#15– Washington Redskins (previously #30)
#18 – Dallas Cowboys (previously #12)
#29 – Philadelphia Eagles (previously #19)
ESPN.com NFL Power Rankings:
#8 – New York Giants (previously #10)
#17 – Washington Redskins (previously #21)
#19 – Dallas Cowboys (previously #15)
#30 – Philadelphia Eagles (previously #24)
• The Dallas Cowboys have the best passing offense in the NFC East, but they also have the worst rushing offense in the NFL.
• The Kanas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins all have statistically better defenses than the New York Giants.
• Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins needs only 18 yards on Monday night to become the first player this season in the NFC East to reach 1,000 yards rushing. Morris is a rookie who was drafted in the sixth round.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, December 2nd, 7:20 p.m. CT (NBC)
New York Giants @ Washington Redskins
Monday, December 3rd, 7:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)