Six weeks of football have been played in the NFC East and things are starting to take shape. Both the Cowboys and Giants faced two of the toughest teams in the NFL on the road, but when all was said and done, the Giants snatched up sole lead of the division and the Cowboys are cellar dwellers for the moment with Philadelphia and Washington finding room in the middle.
Below is a quick recap of the division going into Week 7.
New York Giants 4-2
Philadelphia Eagles 3-3
Washington Redskins 3-3
Dallas Cowboys 2-3
Two weeks ago, I deemed the Giants' running game to be their weakness and they went on to have their most dominant rushing game of the season. Last week, I corrected myself and claimed that their secondary was clearly their actual weakness. Last Sunday, the unit picked off the 49ers' Alex Smith three times. Smith
only had five interceptions all of last season. I suppose I just don't know very much about the Giants.
I do know that their 26-3 win over San Francisco was their most impressive win thus far and could be a defining game of their season in taking sole possession of the NFC East lead. They were able to rush for over 150 yards against the best run defense in the league. They also avoided a single turnover in the game. The 49ers' defense had stifled opponents this year and the Giants played efficiently and mistake free.
Back in 2011, the Cowboys found out that a double-digit lead against the Detroit Lions is never safe when Romo threw three interceptions and Dallas blew a 20-point lead. Last Sunday it was the Eagles who let their guard down too soon. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson overcame a 10-point fourth quarter deficit with the help of a few Eagles turnovers.
While "Good Philadelphia" seems to establish a running game, limits its turnovers and capitalizes off of big plays, it is starting to look like we see "Bad Philadelphia" more often than not. Michael Vick threw two interceptions, a botched snap by center Dallas Reynolds resulted in a first quarter turnover, and running back LeSean McCoy only rushed for 22 yards as the Lions defeated the club, 26-23.
The big news coming out today is that the Eagles have announced they are firing defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, who had been with the organization for 18 years. It seems to be a questionable move considering the defense is ranked 13th in the NFL in points allowed and it has dealt with terrible field position all year due to the offense's constant turnovers. Reid's offense, on the other hand, is ranked 31st in terms of points scored. Secondary coach Todd Bowles has been promoted to defensive coordinator.
One thing has been established about this Redskins team: Their offense rivals any in the division. The Minnesota Vikings' strength had been their defense all season and the most points they had allowed was only 23 heading into Sunday. But the Redskins ran all over them and left with a 38-26 victory.
Robert Griffin III threw a rare interception despite being an efficient 17-of-22 with a touchdown, but he made up for the pick by rushing for 138 yards and two scores.
The Redskins' defense struggled at times as Christian Ponder threw for over 350 yards, but they made big plays when they needed to and picked Ponder off two times, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Madieu Williams.
Youth and injuries were supposed to land the Redskins at the bottom of the division eventually. That could still potentially happen, but Washington has proven that they have enough playmakers to give themselves a chance against any team.
A lot happened in the Cowboys' game against the Ravens. Dallas finally figured out its running game, the secondary was heavily tested, and an NFL record was tied with a 108- yard kickoff return. Still, most people are talking about the final moments.
Down eight points late in the fourth quarter, Tony Romo drove the offense down the field and threw a touchdown strike to Dez Bryant. But then the two-point conversion was a failure as Bryant was unable to snag a seemingly catchable pass. After recovering an onside kick, the Cowboys gave themselves one more chance, down two points.
Unfortunate clock management resulted in the Cowboys letting the clock run all the way down to six seconds after a pass caught with 21 seconds left. That was followed by a 51-yard field goal missed by Dan Bailey, his first of the season, and a Dallas loss.
The Cowboys showed a fair amount of good execution in this game, but it was not enough to beat a team as good as the Ravens. As a result, they find themselves 2-3 and at the bottom of the division.
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys' depth in their secondary will continue to be tested. Despite returning to the game after the injury, Morris Claibornesill had an MRI yesterday on his knee. Mike Jenkins also had an MRI on his left shoulder, which required rotator cuff surgery back in January. The results showed neither suffered significant damage. An MRI on DeMarco Murray turned out negative and the running back was diagnosed with a foot sprain. He will likely miss Sunday's game in Carolina, meaning Felix Jones will get the start.
New York Giants: The Giants were blessed with the return of cornerback Prince Amukarmara, who immediately made his impact known by recording an interception. Hakeem Nicks also made his return and had 44 yards receiving on Sunday. However, Giants linebacker Jacquian Williams left the game with a calf injury and his status is unknown. Running back Andre Brownis still recovering from a concussion, but is expected to return next week.
Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles amazingly came into Sunday's game with 22 healthy starters and they did not sustain any major injuries against the Lions. For a team that is known to have injury troubles, Philadelphia does not seem to be taking advantage of its good fortune.
Washington Redskins: Despite a concussion just seven days earlier, Robert Griffin IIIplayed one of his best games of the season against the Vikings on Sunday. Receiver Pierre Garcon missed the game with a toe injury. Safety Jordan Pugh left the game twice in the fourth quarter. Trainers cleared him to return to the game after a head injury, but upon coming back another collision led to the trainers diagnosing him with a concussion.
NFL.com Power Rankings:
2– New York Giants (previously #6)
11 – Philadelphia Eagles (previously #9)
16– Washington Redskins (previously #20)
17 – Dallas Cowboys (previously #14)
ESPN.com NFL Power Rankings:
3 – New York Giants (previously #7)
13 – Philadelphia Eagles (previously #11)
15 – Washington Redskins (previously #21)
18 – Dallas Cowboys (previously #13)
• In terms of yards per game, the NFC East is the best offensive division in football. Every team is in the top 11 in total offense, with the Giants ranked third, the Redskins fifth, the Cowboys sixth and the Eagles 11th.
• Despite having the worst record in the division, Dallas is the only NFC East team with consistent success defending the pass. The Cowboys' passing defense is still ranked first in the NFL, while the Eagles are 15th, the Giants 21st and the Redskins dead last.
• Eli Manning is third in the NFL in passing through six weeks. He has more passing yards and more touchdowns than any of the other starting QBs in the NFC East.
Washington Redskins @ New York Giants
Sunday, October 21st, 12:00 CT (FOX)
Dallas Cowboys @ Carolina Panthers
Sunday, October 21st, 12:00 CT (FOX)