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NFC East Breakdown: Up In The Air After Five Weeks

Posted Oct 9, 2012

IRVING, Texas – The verdict in the NFC East is completely up in the air after five weeks of play.

The Giants were the lone team to get a win in Week 5, while Robert Griffin III went down with a scary injury. Michael Vick fumbled away the sole division lead and Tony Romo couldn’t add to his high interception total while the Cowboys were on a bye.
 
The Eagles and Giants now share the division lead with the Redskins and Cowboys right behind them, but the Giants are 0-2 in the division, with losses to the Cowboys and Giants.
 
Below is a quick recap of the division going into Week 6:
 
Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) –
 
Last week in a win over the Giants, the Eagles seemed to figure out the best formula to win – run the ball consistently, rely on defense and be patient with the big play. If the Eagles avoid turnovers, they’re difficult to beat.
 
They tried to employ the same game plan against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, but Vick just couldn’t hold on to the ball. Vick was patient and efficient in the passing game, going 20-for-30 with two touchdowns and no interceptions. But it was two costly fumbles that cost the Eagles the game.
 
At one point Vick fumbled the ball just inches before crossing the goal line, resulting in a Steelers touchback. This was certainly a winnable game for the Eagles. Their defense held the Steelers to just one touchdown and three field goals, losing 16-14. The Eagles’ pass rush also did well getting to Ben Roethlisberger. But if Roethlisberger had made the same mistakes as Vick, the game would have had a different outcome.
 
Through five games, Vick has shown some of the dangerous playmaking ability that only he is capable of. However, more often this season he has shown his ability to let any team compete with the Eagles by constantly giving them the ball.
 
New York Giants (3-2) –
 
Last week I wrote in this column that the Giants’ weakness was obvious – their running game was far too unproductive. I claimed that Ahmad Bradshaw had been inefficient and that the shared carries of Bradshaw and Andre Brown led to neither backs getting in rhythm.
 
Well, I don’t know if Bradshaw and the Giants read the column last week, but they certainly responded against the Browns on Sunday. Bradshaw got almost every carry at running back (30 altogether) and rushed for 200 yards and a touchdown. The only other two carries went to rookie David Wilson, who took one of those carries 40 yards for a touchdown. The running game didn’t appear to be a weakness against the Browns.
 
The Giants quickly fell behind, 14-0, to the Browns, but their running game, combined with three touchdowns and more than 250 yards passing from Eli Manning, helped the Giants pull away to a 41-27 victory.
 
New York’s weakness now seems to be their secondary surrendering the big play.  The Giants cornerbacks can’t contain speedy receivers. I hesitate to think about the shutout the Giants’ secondary will pitch next week, now that I have diagnosed them. The cornerbacks will probably pick off three passes without allowing a touchdown, just to make me look bad.
 
Cowboys (2-2) –
 
The Dallas Cowboys had a bye this past weekend. Some might argue it’s the best they’ve looked in the last few weeks.
 
Redskins (2-3) –
 
In the third quarter of Sunday’s game, the Redskins were tied with the Atlanta Falcons and their offense was driving in the red zone. All of a sudden, RGIII tried to scramble for a touchdown when Sean Witherspoon met him just before the sideline in a huge collision. The entire city of Washington held its breath.
 
The tackle resulted in a mild concussion for Griffin, who left the game. The Redskins had to settle for a field goal and the Falcons were eventually able to pull out a 24-17 win.
 
The Redskins put up a fight against perhaps the best team in the NFL so far. Despite being decimated by injuries thus far, the Washington defense did well against a potent Falcon offense. Ryan Kerrigan returned an interception for a touchdown for the first score of the game. Rookie running back Alfred Morris continued his fast start, rushing for 118 yards.
 
 
Injuries:
 
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys took advantage of some crucial rest during the bye week. Defensive lineman Jay Ratliff is expected to make his season debut next week against the Ravens, but he may be limited in his participation. Fellow defensive lineman, Kenyon Coleman was back at practice and could be ready to return Sunday. Starting center Phil Costa (back) has been practicing and could also be ready to step into the starting lineup.
 
New York Giants: The Giants are still burdened with the ankle injury to cornerback Prince Amukamara, as their secondary continues to struggle. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (foot) also continues to sit out. No official word on either player, but they seem doubtful to make their return Sunday.
 
Philadelphia Eagles: There was a silver lining to the Eagles’ 16-14 loss to the Steelers – they didn’t sustain any injuries. Linebacker and special teams player Akeem Jordan missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury. His status for this week is unknown.
 
Washington Redskins: The Redskins faced devastating injuries all season, but perhaps the most frightening occurred Sunday when Griffin was taken out of the game with a concussion. The injury might not be long-term, but his status for this Sunday is still up in the air.
 
National Attention:
 
NFL.com Power Rankings:
 
#6– New York Giants (previously #9)
#9 – Philadelphia Eagles (previously #7)
#14 – Dallas Cowboys (previously #15)
#20– Washington Redskins (previously #18)
 
ESPN.com NFL Power Rankings:
 
#7 – New York Giants (previously #10)
#11 – Philadelphia Eagles (previously #7)
#13 – Dallas Cowboys (previously #15)
#21 – Washington Redskins (previously #18)

Miscellaneous:
 
-The Giants are the only team in the NFC East with positive net points, totaling 41 net points on the season. The Eagles (-19), Cowboys (-23) and Redskins (-7) all have negative net points for the season.
-Washington rookie running back Alfred Morris leads all NFC East backs in rushing yards with 491. The Cowboys’ DeMarco Murray is last among starting backs in the division with 237 rushing yards.
 
Week Six:
 
Detroit Lions @ Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, October 14th, 12:00 CT (FOX)
 
Dallas Cowboys @ Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, October 14th, 12:00 CT (FOX)
 
New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, October 14th, 3:25 CT (FOX)
 
Minnesota Vikings @ Washington Redskins
Sunday, October 14th, 3:25 CT (FOX)

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