By: Patrick Waring
The NFL Season has reached it’s second half. Heading into Week 9, the NFC East is still close and this weekend features one game between division rivals. The New York Giants are in first place and are the only team still waiting on their bye week.
New York Giants
Overall Record – 4-4 / Division Record – 2-2
The New York Giants fell short in a 52-49 shootout with the New Orleans Saints last week. Many understood that the Giants would need to pick things up on offense and play better on defense before the game. The offense took care of it’s side, but the defense continued to give up yardage and points. The Giants’ defense did come up with two interceptions, but they gave up 608 total yards and allowed quarterback Drew Brees to throw seven touchdown passes. The defense may get a little help this week with reports that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will return to action. Pierre-Paul has not played this season and made news for his summer fireworks accident. The Giants are also likely to be without cornerback Prince Amukamara (torn pectoral) for one more game. The defensive back has not played since week 5.
The offense will look to continue moving the ball from last game. Quarterback Eli Manning threw for 350 yards and six touchdown passes, with three of those going to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants suffered a tough loss last week, but have won four out of their last six games. A win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday can keep them ahead of the pack in the division.
Next Game – Away at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Overall Record – 3-4 / Division Record – 1-1
The Washington Redskins are coming off of a bye and are ready to face the best team in the NFL. A trip to Foxborough will be tough and the Redskins are hoping to have some help back in the secondary to deal with quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots. Cornerback Chris Culliver (knee) has been participating in practice and hopes to be back on the field this weekend. DeAngelo Hall (toe) and Bashaud Breeland (hamstring) are looking more uncertain. The Redskins are also waiting to see if linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (hand) will be ready to put pressure on Brady. Kerrigan had surgery after breaking his hand during the comeback win against Tampa Bay.
The Redskins will have to play mistake-free and force the Patriots to make some of their own. New England has only committed three turnovers all season. It’s impossible to put everything on quarterback Kirk Cousins, but his numbers stand out. Cousins has thrown eight interceptions in the team’s four losses, while having zero in the three wins. The Redskins also have to get the running game going again. This seems like a broken record for several weeks, but establishing and continuing to run will lead to more victories. Running backs Alfred Morris and Matt Jones may have opportunities on Sunday. The Patriots don’t give up a ton of total rushing yards, but teams have been able to get 4.2 yards per carry.
And there is always the hope that wide receiver DeSean Jackson can step in and make a difference. The receiver hasn’t played since injuring his hamstring in week 1, but was participating in practice and will play against the Patriots. Jackson was getting close a few weeks ago, but suffered a setback. Cousins and the offense will welcome him back with open arms. The Redskins are heavy underdogs on Sunday, but are still in the mix in the division.
Next Game – Away at New England Patriots
Overall Record – 3-4 / Division Record – 1-2
To say Sunday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys is huge is an understatement. Philadelphia, just like Dallas, needs this win to stay in the division race and gain another win. The Eagles were defeated 20-10 by the Cowboys in week 2. Former Cowboy running back DeMarco Murray had a game to forget. Murray had 2 yards on 13 carries in the loss and he will be looking for another chance to defeat his old team. The Eagles have started to find their running game in recent weeks. Murray and Ryan Mathews are starting to give the Eagles more of what they expected before the season started. One area that needs to catch up is the passing game. Quarterback Sam Bradford has not worked out the way coach Chip Kelly thought when he made the trade to acquire him in the offseason. Like Cousins with the Redskins, everything is not on Bradford, but he has thrown 10 interceptions and currently has a 29.6 QBR (32nd in the NFL).
A win against Dallas will put the Eagles at .500 overall and in the division. In a division that is still very well much up for grabs, the Eagles are not exactly in bad shape after starting the season 0-2, and 1-3 after four games.
Next Game – Away at Dallas Cowboys
Overall Record – 2-5 / Division Record – 2-1
You could just read the beginning of the Philadelphia section. The Cowboys are on a five game losing streak that started after they beat the Eagles 20-10 in week two. The Cowboys were able to win that game, but lost quarterback Tony Romo with a broken collarbone. Romo is still out and things haven’t been the same in Dallas. Backup Brandon Weeden was ineffective with his chance and Matt Cassel has not yet found much success. Things are looking so bad that others outside of the NFL are even willing to try to play for Jerry Jones.
But with all of that said, Dallas still has a chance to stay in the picture with a win over the Eagles. Wide receiver Dez Bryant returned to action last week and is trying to get back to full strength for the second half of the season. The goal is to get some rhythm going and try to buy a little time for Romo’s return. He went through drills this week and could be available for action November 22nd. Dallas needs to win on Sunday night to stop the losing streak and give themselves a shot.
Next Game – Home vs Philadelphia Eagles
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(Above Photo Courtesy of Matt Rourke / AP Photo)