How the NFC East is Shaking out After Two Games
The NFC East is already looking completely different from what experts predicted after two weeks. The Giants are 0-2. The Cowboys just got completely exposed by the Broncos. Chris Thompson has been the focal point of the Redskins offense. The Eagles may be in the best position right now but have been up-and-down. So what does it all mean for each team and their playoff hopes?
Who’s at the Top?
The Eagles are 1-1, having beat the Redskins 30-17 and lost to the Chiefs 27-20. The Eagles have looked like the best team in the division so far. Now before you say, “But the Cowboys and Eagles are both 1-1!.” I’d say you are completely correct, but you’re just looking at the record. The Redskins-Eagles game was more of a blowout than the score indicated. The Chiefs are one of the top teams, if not THE top team, in the NFL and the Eagles kept it extremely close until the fourth quarter. The Cowboys, on the other hand, beat the Giants 19-3, which may sound impressive but really isn’t, and got destroyed by the Broncos. The Broncos are talented but not as good as the Chiefs.
The Eagles have been up-and-down, but their defense has been deadly. Against offensive lines that are actually very good, the front seven has been very, very disruptive. I thought the loss of Ronald Darby would hurt them a lot against the Chiefs, but it really didn’t affect the game that much. Multiple secondary injuries have plagued the Eagles, but they are still performing extremely well.
The offense is what has really been unpredictable. The offensive line has struggled at times in passing and running situations, but is still solid overall. The Eagles have the fourth worst run-to-pass ratio in the NFL. There can not be that much pressure on a second year quarterback. Whenever the passing game gets going, the OL or a dropped pass always seems to screw it up. However, at times the offense has looked deadly and moved down the field very easily. Also, Carson Wentz had a “bad game” against Kansas City according to PFF and others, but he put up 333 yards, two touchdowns, an interception, and 55 rushing yards against a very talented defense. It’s early, but the Eagles are looking like the front runner in this division.
After winning the division last year, the Cowboys were the early favorites to win the East again this year. However, we all know that a team hasn’t won the NFC East in back-to-back years since 2004. It looks like that trend is going to continue. Like I said earlier, they beat the Giants 19-3. Since the Giants offensive line is less of a brick wall and more of a piece of tissue paper, it’s a lot less impressive than it looks. They followed that performance up with a 42-17 loss to the Denver Broncos. Honestly, it was a lot uglier than the score.
Ezekiel Elliot ran the ball nine times for eight yards. (one less than Tom Brady had in week 2) Zeke also just gave up after both interceptions Prescott threw while the rest of his team was hustling. He just isn’t a leader when things don’t go his way. Speaking of Prescott, he threw the ball 50 times but only had 238yds. That’s 4.76 YPA, the average in 2016 was 7.24 YPA. It was by far Dak’s worst game of his career. But it could’ve been worse!!
The defense has looked somewhat improved but has been plagued by injuries to the secondary. The defensive line has looked better but hasn’t faced a good o-line yet. The jury is still out, but the Cowboys have not looked great so far. That could still get them a second place finish in the division. This offense has a chance to be elite, but until I see results this year I’m keeping them at second.
The last two spots in the NFC East are a toss up, for now, I’ll put the Redskins in third. Why’re they ahead of the Giants? Because they have a good offensive line. The Redskins had an ugly game against the Eagles, but redeemed themselves against the Rams. The run game struggled against the Eagles which is expected, but dominated against the Rams. The Rams are not bad against the run either. Chris Thompson may not be a name you’re extremely familiar with, but he has been making plays left and right so far this year. The defense is pretty good, but nothing on this team stands out. If the Redskins want to contend, they will need to regain their high-octane offense and GET TERRELLE PRYOR THE BALL! Until those things happen, third place is the ceiling for this team in the NFC East.
New York Giants
If you need an indication of how bad the Giants are playing just know that there are legit arguments that the Jets are the better NY team after two games, Ouch. New York has scored 13 points over the first two games. Horrendous o-line play is the main reason for NY’s offensive struggles. Their offense has been so bad that Ben McAdoo has started to blame the players for their struggles. McAdoo flat out said Eli Manning had “sloppy quarterback play.” The Giants just are not on the same page in any aspect of the game. The defense is surviving but has not been performing at the same level as last year. The difference between the Giants and the rest of the division is that they need to improve in every phase of the game. NY is in last place right now, and that won’t change unless everything changes.
What Does it Mean?
It’s pretty simple, every team has to play better. The NFC East has been the most unpredictable division in the NFL, and this year is no different. In week 3, all eyes should be on the game between the Eagles and the Giants. Philadelphia has a chance to put New York’s playoff hopes far out of sight. The Redskins have a tough matchup against the very talented Raiders, and the Cowboys will look to bounce back against the depleted Cardinals. Will the Eagles offense start to gain some consistency? Has the NFL figured out the Cowboys? Can the Redskins show that they aren’t average? Is the Giants season over? This week should answer some of these questions, but each team has a lot to improve.
Post Week 3 NFC East Record Predictions
1) Eagles 2-1
2) Cowboys 2-1
3) Redskins 1-2
4) Giants 0-3