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Division Rundown: NFC East Race Comes Down To Week 17
With just one week left in the regular season the NFC East comes down to one game between the Redskins and Cowboys.
Washington Redskins 9-6
Dallas Cowboys 8-7
New York Giants 8-7
Philadelphia Eagles 4-11
It didn't seem possible six weeks earlier, but the Washington Redskins are currently the sole leaders atop the NFC East after winning their sixth straight game. Last Sunday they welcomed back Robert Griffin III from a leg injury and the rookie quarterback didn’t look like he had missed a beat.
Griffin was able to post a 102.4 passer rating while throwing two touchdowns in a 27-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Redskins continued to do what they do best: run the ball well on offense. They rushed for 128 total yards and made the big plays when it mattered. At this point in the season the Redskins are very comfortable running their college-like offensive scheme and few teams have had any success stopping them.
The Redskins will be champions of the NFC East if they defeat the Cowboys at home on Sunday night. If they lose they could still potentially make the playoffs as a wildcard assuming that both Chicago and Minnesota lose their final game.
Perhaps the most exciting game the Cowboys have played all season turned out to be completely irrelevant. After the Giants were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens the Cowboys’ 34-31 loss to the Saints earlier in the day became meaningless.
But that doesn’t take away any of the thrill that came with the game. The Cowboys came back from down 14 points with less than five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. After getting the first touchdown, the Cowboys still needed a 4th and 10 conversion with 15 seconds left in the game. They not only converted the 4th down, they scored a 21-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin to force overtime.
In the end, a controversial fumble by Marques Colston that bounced 22 yards forward until being recovered by Jimmy Graham set up a field goal to win the game for the Saints.
Tony Romo was nearly flawless in the game throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns, while posting a passer rating of 123.8. He was helped out by the career performance of Dez Bryant who recorded 224 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
Despite the loss, the Cowboys can win the division with a win over Washington on Sunday. That is their only chance at making the playoffs.
It was hard not to assume that the Giants would just “turn it on” when they really truly needed a win. Well, the past two weeks New York has needed wins and they have been blown out each week. After being shutout by the Falcons the previous week, the Giants lost 33-14 to the Ravens.
At a time when they needed their best players playing their best, the Giants received poor performances from Eli Manning (only 150 yards passing), Ahmad Bradshaw (only 39 yards rushing) and their much heralded defensive line was unable to record a single sack on the immobile Joe Flacco.
The Giants’ weakness all season has been their secondary and they once again struggled as Flacco was able to throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns on the Giants’ defense.
They’ve been inconsistent all season and now the Super Bowl champions find themselves in a position where they will need a miracle to make the post season.
The Eagles have been able to get a good look at some of their younger players the past few weeks. Unfortunately for them, at 4-11, that’s about the only positive to come from this season.
In a 27-20 loss to the Redskins, rookie quarterback Nick Foles threw for 345 yards but suffered a broken right hand that will likely force him to miss the season finale. That will put Michael Vick back into the lineup, likely for the last time with the Eagles.
LaSean McCoy returned to the lineup, which meant less carries for rookie Bryce Brown and together they were only able to combine for 63 yards.
The Eagles are obviously looking towards the future as they finish the season Sunday against the Giants.
Dallas Cowboys: DeMarcus Ware has been dealing with elbow and shoulder injuries all season and he was forced to miss significant portions of the Cowboys’ loss to the Saints. Jason Garrett claimed that he believes that Ware will be ready to suit up and play the season finale despite his injuries. The Cowboys also lost Ernie Sims in the first quarter against the Saints after experiencing concussion-like symptoms. There is no word on his availability for Sunday and will likely be a game-time decision.
New York Giants: The Giants’ defensive line was out of sorts on Sunday after Chris Canty reinjured his knee against the Ravens. There is no word on his status for next Sunday. Justin Tuck was already inactive in the game due to a shoulder injury.
Philadelphia Eagles: LaSean McCoy returned to the field after missing a few weeks with a concussion, but was largely ineffective rushing the ball. With Nick Foles (hand) likely out, Michael Vick is expected to start.
Washington Redskins: There was some concern leading into Sunday’s game over whether or not Robert Griffin III was fully healed and prepared to comeback after only missing a week from his leg injury. Griffin not only returned, but looked as sharp as ever. However, he refrained from running the ball like he normally does.
ESPN.com NFL Power Rankings:
#9 – Washington Redskins (previously #8)
#14 – Dallas Cowboys (previously #10)
#15 – New York Giants (previously #12)
#29 – Philadelphia Eagles (previously #29)
-Washington (vs. Dallas) clinches NFC East division title with a win or tie against Dallas.
-Washington clinches a playoff spot with a Chicago loss and a Minnesota loss.
-Dallas (@Washington) clinches NFC East title with a win over Washington.
-New York Giants (vs. Philadelphia) clinches a playoff spot with a win and a Dallas loss or tie and a Chicago loss and a Minnesota loss.
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants
Sunday, December 30th, 12:00 CT (FOX)
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins
Sunday, December 30th, 7:20 CT (NBC)