How’s this for a novel concept: the leader of the NFC East at this time next week is guaranteed to have a winning record.
As it stands right now, our fair division is the only one out of eight NFL divisions that does not boast a winning squad. It’s actually the second week in a row, as both Dallas and Philadelphia sat tied atop the standings with 2-3 marks.
Well, both the Cowboys and Eagles took care of business despite injury setbacks in Week 5, and a division grudge match next week in Philadelphia guarantees that someone will come away with a 4-3 mark.
The Eagles can thank Nick Foles for that .500 record, after the backup quarterback shined in Tampa on Sunday. I said last week that Michael Vick should be Philadelphia’s starter if he’s healthy, and I stand by it. Vick’s prowess as a runner makes him far too valuable to Chip Kelly’s offense to sideline him, provided he’s healthy.
But man, Foles certainly balled out given his opportunity to showcase his stuff. The second-year quarterback completed 71 percent of his passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns against a solid Tampa Bay secondary. He also ran for the opening touchdown of the game, giving him a hand in all four Philadelphia touchdowns.
Even without Vick’s contributions on the ground, LeSean McCoy was able to rip off 116 rushing yards, and the Eagles managed to gain 138 rushing yards and 425 total yards on the day. Say what you will about the Philadelphia defense or about the Eagles’ overall record, but under Chip Kelly they’ve become just the third offense to tally 400 total yards in each of the first six games of a season.
And keep in mind Tampa Bay boasts a solid defense despite an atrocious effort from its offense this season. The Bucs were allowing just 17.5 points per game this season before playing Philadelphia, and they had stifled talented offenses like the Saints and Patriots.
Tampa ranks 16th against the pass and 13th against the run, despite being ranked No. 32 in passing offense and No. 19 in rushing offense. The Buccaneers are obviously winless, so I’m not going to pump them up too much. But it’s not just horrible defensive units the Eagles are beating up on.
Through six weeks, the Cowboys offense has been a bit of a roller coaster of production – highs and lows based on what they’ve been presented with. In order to regain first place in the division, they’ll have to find a way around a Philadelphia offense that hasn’t won all of its games but definitely hasn’t been held in check so far.