New York Giants (4-3)
Dallas Cowboys 20 - New York Giants 27
Next Up: @ New Orleans Saints
Eli Manning will enter Sunday's contest with one of his main weapons back at full strength while another piece of the puzzle will be out at least another week. Former LSU standout Odell Beckham, Jr. has been suffering from a hamstring problem that has limited him in recent weeks, but now the young receiver is reported to be at full strength. Fellow wide out Victor Cruz has yet to make his 2015 debut for the G-Men, and that will not happen this weekend either. In fact, there is no projection of when the team's best salsa dancer will be able to put his talents on display.
Jason Pierre-Paul is once again under contract with the Giants. JPP never signed his one-year tender as the team's franchise player, and once he suffered severe injuries during a July fireworks accident there were questions about the team losing interest. Those were further compounded by the fact that the defensive lineman pulled a "Jay Ratliff" by dealing with his medical issues outside the team's medical staff. He will now be under the supervision of the Giants medical personnel as he looks to return to the football field. There is a two-game roster exemption during which JPP will be expected to get himself into football shape.
CB Prince Amukamara also appears close to returning from a week five pectoral tear. He will be out this weekend, but pending the result of a MRI early next week he could be on the field as early as week nine when the Giants visit Tampa Bay. His return should lift a defense that is struggling in his absence much the same as JPP's should spark new life into a depleted pass rush. Overall, the Giants look to be getting healthy at just the right time to make a run in the second half of the season.
Washington Redskins (3-4)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30 - Washington Redskins 31
Next Up: Bye
QB Kirk Cousins had a career day against Tampa, good news on the surface if you are a Skins fan, but then too he has had good days before and this was against the Bucs. Cousins still has not established himself as "the man" in Washington in spite of having every opportunity to do so. He is still a peaks-and-valleys type of quarterback, To secure his standing, Cousins is going to have to deliver consistent play week in and week out as he leads the team to victories. If he can do that, the RGIII era in Washington will come to an end. Interestingly enough, Cousins career trajectory is very similar to the one taken by another Jay Gruden protege, Andy Dalton, who is finally coming in to his own with the Bengals.
Gruden is focused on keeping the Redskins attention on the remainder of the season. The come from behind win over Tampa Bay sent them into the week of rest on a high note, and the coach wants to make sure that the squad comes back ready for what lies ahead. The team had a practice session on Tuesday before heading off for the week. Gruden felt that it was essential to not let them lose track of what is important since his squad is in position to make a run to the NFC East crown, but he also knows that the rest will allow some guys to get healthy for that run. It is a balancing act that he will be juggling until the team returns to action.
Tampa Bay did expose the Redskins run defense as being week. Atlanta was able to run on them two weeks ago, but they can run on anybody right now, then the Jets got a few big plays last week. It looked like it was simply a matter of tightening things up for the Skins, but then Tampa Bay ran all over Washington on Sunday and now everyone can see where the Washington defense can be had. Right now defensive coordinator Joe Barry is looking for ways to square away a defense that is in shambles and is having a hard time figuring out its assignments.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
Philadelphia Eagles 16 - Carolina Panthers 27
Next Up: Bye
I love the title of Bill Barnwell's post regarding our friends in Philly, The Eagles On The Brink. Chip Kelly has come to the crossroads of his NFL career, it is likely that what he can do in the next two weeks will have a large impact on how well the rest of his time in the league will go. Adapt and he will possibly earn the genius label that has been applied to him. Fail and he becomes just another college couch who could not transition to professional football.
It really boils down to one thing. Here is Barnwell's take, which I share, but which I also question because there is not really another option on the roster.
If it's ever going to happen for the Eagles, now is the time. Philadelphia has hit its bye week. It has two weeks to make whatever changes are necessary to spark its flagging offense, which is 28th in Expected Points Added per drive through seven games. Since hitting the reset button on the moves Chip Kelly made this offseason doesn't appear to be an option, the Eagles are left with precious few choices for improving that attack. While Kelly will unquestionably make some schematic choices during the downtime, there's one obvious personnel move that would shake things up. Should the Eagles bench Sam Bradford?
Chip is really beginning to feel the heat from those who once assured us that Mr. Kelly was going to revolutionize the professional game. There are still some Kelly apologists in the crowd, but more and more they are slowly beginning to realize what many have known all along, Chip is a college football coach, and a good one at that. Even those who support him as a coach are starting to be critical of his abilities as an NFL personnel man. There are those who are starting to suspect that Kelly is stubbornly clinging to some players in an effort to prove that he made good moves when there are players who would be more of an impact setting the bench
Chip Kelly might give Ryan Mathews more playing time at running back if only the Eagles general manager hadn't signed DeMarco Murray to a contract worth $13 million more in guaranteed money.
Kelly might consider naming Mark Sanchez the starting quarterback if only the GM hadn't sent Nick Foles and a second-round draft pick to the Rams for the $13 million Sam Bradford.
Kelly might admit there isn't enough talent at wide receiver if only the GM hadn't drawn a hard line in the sand during negotiations with Jeremy Maclin and expected Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Riley Cooper and Miles Austin to account for the lack of a No. 1 target.
You get the picture.