By: Patrick Waring
After five weeks in the books, the NFC East is still up for grabs. One team is in first place, but the others are only one game behind.
New York Giants
Overall Record – 3-2 / Division Record – 1-1
Late last night, things were looking like every team in the NFC East would finish the week at 2-3. Quarterback Eli Manning changed that by hooking up with tight end Larry Donnell for a 12 yard touchdown with 21 seconds left on the clock. The touchdown would put the New York Giants over the San Francisco 49ers 30-27 and bring their record to 3-2 on the season. Manning finished the game with 441 yards, 3 touchdowns and one interception. Although only one game ahead of the pack, the Giants seem like the best team and leader in the division. They found a way to shake off the struggling 49ers on Sunday, even if it did wait until the final seconds of the game.
The Giants do have some serious concerns at wide receiver. Both Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle suffered hamstring injuries against the 49ers. Beckham (7 receptions, 121 yards, 1 TD) was able to contribute, but left the game in the end of the 3rd quarter and missed most of the 4th. The team has already been without Victor Cruz (calf) and can’t afford to miss anyone at that position. With a big division game next Monday night, Eli Manning will need his top targets.
Next Game – Away at Philadelphia Eagles
Overall Record – 2-3 / Division Record – 2-0
The Dallas Cowboys suffered their third loss in a row yesterday. The Cowboys were defeated by the New England Patriots 30-6 at home. It was more of the same for Dallas. The team is trying to get things going offensively without quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant. Brandon Weeden has not been playing well as Romo’s replacement and this latest defeat was the 11th straight loss for him as a starter in the league.
Dallas’ defense did come up with five sacks in the first half, including two from defensive end Greg Hardy. Hardy was fresh off of his four game suspension for a domestic violence incident. Dallas was unable to get to Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady and slow down their offense in the second half.
The bye week will be welcomed by the Cowboys. It will give them time to get healthy, reevaluate things and prepare for a Week 7 game with the Giants in New York. Once 2-0, the tables have turned in Texas.
Next Game – (Bye Week 6)
Away at Giants on October 25th
Overall Record – 2-3 / Division Record – 0-2
Head coach Chip Kelly and quarterback Sam Bradford were able to smile a little after a 39-17 win over the New Orleans Saints. Things were finally clicking on offense for the Eagles. The team racked up 519 yards and controlled the clock with 34:02 time of possession. Bradford shook off two early redzone interceptions by throwing for 333 yards and two touchdowns. Running backs DeMarco Murray (20 carries, 83 yards, TD) and Ryan Mathews (8 carries, 73 yards, TD) found room on the ground and Philly was able to move the ball and score like some imagined they would at the start of the season.
Defensively, defensive end Fletcher Cox stole the show. Cox sacked quarterback Drew Brees three times, forced two fumbles and recovered one. Philly’s defense has been solid this year, but they were able to play with the support of having points on the board from the offense. The team is still playing without linebacker Kiko Alonso (knee) and there is no timetable for his return.
The Eagles are hoping to build off of this game and are feeling like it just took time to get new additions on the same page. In a loss last week to the Redskins, Bradford was able to connect on some deep passes and he was able to get rolling after some early mistakes against the Saints. They are facing a big division game next Monday night with the 3-2 Giants.
Next Game – Home vs New York Giants
Overall Record – 2-3 / Division Record – 1-1
The Washington Redskins hung tough for much of the afternoon in Atlanta. The defense was able to pressure Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan and held wide receiver Julio Jones in check. With the game tied at the end of regulation, the Redskins received the ball first in overtime and were driving down the field. On second and 8 at the 50 yard line, quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a pass to the sideline that was intercepted by cornerback Robert Alford and returned 59 yards for the game winning touchdown. Game over. The Redskins left the field in Atlanta wondering what could have been. The defense played well and did more than enough to win the game. They allowed running back Devonta Freeman to rush for 153 yards, but much of that was because their focus was to stop the pass and contain Jones (5 receptions, 65 yards). There were too many missed opportunities for the offense and the run game was limited to 51 yards on 24 carries. Running the football has not been great in the last three weeks. While there are some bright spots, consistency is a issue for Washington. The attitude of the team has changed for the positive, but production is needed on the field.
Washington played yesterday without cornerbacks Chris Culliver (knee) and DeAngelo Hall (toe). No word on the availability on either yet. They are also waiting on word about wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and tight end Jordan Reed (concussion). Running back Matt Jones left late in yesterday’s game with a toe sprain and it’s worth noting that LT Trent Williams had an illness and was unavailable to the media after the game. He did play the entire game.
Next Game – Away at New York Jets
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(Above Photo Courtesy Of Michael Perez / Associated Press)