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NFC East: Looking Past The Fight For First Place

Posted Oct 18, 2013


The entire point of this blog is to focus on noteworthy, non-Cowboys topics in the NFC East. The Cowboys are covered virtually 24/7 on this website and across dozens of other platforms – both in Dallas and nationwide.

That said, there’s no denying that this weekend’s Dallas-Philadelphia matchup is the dominant talking point in the division, and it’s going to create lasting implications. Not only will the winner have the lead in the NFC East, but it will have an unblemished record through the first half of the division schedule.

The Eagles blew past Washington to open their season, before they lost three games in a row. They got back in the win column with an offensive explosion on the road against the Giants. Not only would a win give the Eagles a 3-0 division record, but they’d reach the mark without having to play another division road game until Week 17 – the season finale here in Dallas.

Same story, different setting for the Cowboys. This is Dallas’ first division roadtrip after dispatching New York and Washington within the confines of AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys’ next two division games after Philly come at New York in late November and at Washington in late December.

With that in mind, grabbing a 3-0 record right here would be mighty nice for the Cowboys.

Other stuff is happening in the division this week, of course, but it pales in comparison to an NFC East grudge match with first place on the line.

At 1-4, the Redskins play the Bears at home, where they are 0-2 so far this season. Washington hasn’t started 0-3 at home since the 1998 season, when they plummeted to 0-6 to start the season before rebounding to finish 6-10.

The Bears defense this season hasn’t been the juggernaut we’re accustomed to seeing, but they do have 17 takeaways through six games – second in the league, behind Seattle. Chicago is also tied with the Seahawks for the league’s best turnover margin at plus-seven. 

The way Robert Griffin III has protected the football this season – not well, as evidenced by his turnovers on back-to-back possessions last weekend in Dallas – gives me reason to doubt the Redskins get a home win on Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, you think Monday Night Football wishes it had flex scheduling as an option? Reigning NFC North champion Minnesota vs. two-time world champ New York on a chilly autumn evening has a nice ring to it for the week’s most visible game.

Then you look at the actual matchup. The Vikings are a hot mess of a 1-4 team coming off a 25-point loss to Carolina. They’re going to start the newly-acquired Josh Freeman at quarterback, though it’s not like Freeman has set the world on fire recently. With Chicago, Detroit and Green Bay all contending in their division, it looks like a rough road to relevance for the Vikings.

I don’t really need to offer too many thoughts on the Giants, who have essentially become the NFL’s punching bag seemingly overnight. We’re probably past the point of wondering if they can pull out of the tailspin. Instead, you have to wonder what kinds of moves they make going forward.

Defensive line starters Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph are both free agents when the season ends. So is wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.

Three of the Giants’ injured starters on the offensive line are older than 30 and facing contracts that expire in the next two seasons. Eli Manning is a free agent after the 2015 season.

The deeper New York sinks into this hole, the more it makes you wonder if they will take steps – perhaps even drastic steps – to improve going forward.

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