The first five games of the 2017 season have not gone as planned for the 2-3 Dallas Cowboys. Even with Dak Prescott and the offense scoring 30 points in back-to-back contests, Dallas lost both heading into a much needed bye week. That doesn’t even mention everything surrounding running back Ezekiel Elliott, who will be able to play for at least this week against the 49ers, and possibly the Redskins on the road.
Elsewhere in the NFC East, the Eagles are soaring high, the Redskins have continued to play well, and even the New York Giants finally got into the win column after a surprising Sunday Night Football victory over the Denver Broncos. The Eagles (5-1) are coming off an impressive road victory over Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, Washington held on to knock off the Niners at home by two, and the Giants found a run game against the best run defense in the NFL.
#Broncos D vs Melvin Gordon, Zeke Elliott, LeSean McCoy and MarShawn Lynch combined: 95 rushing yards— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 16, 2017
vs Orleans Darkwa: 117 rushing yards
How does the NFC East stack up heading into week seven?
1.) Philadelphia Eagles (LW:1)
Last Game: W 28-23 @ Panthers
Next Game: vs. Washington Redskins (3-2)
The Philadelphia Eagles remain at the top of the division after six games. The free agent acquisitions of Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and LeGarrette Blount, combined with solid offensive line, has helped quarterback Carson Wentz have a strong first half of the season. The Eagles have been able to run a balanced offensive attack by using Wentz’s arm and Blount’s tough-nosed style of running the ball. As a result, Philly has only lost to the Kansas City Chiefs (also 5-1) thus far.
On Monday Night, the Eagles will have another tough battle — this time at home. Philly hosts Washington in week seven; the two opened up the season against each other in D.C. in a competitive game that the ‘Skins had an opportunity to win in the fourth quarter. Since then, the Redskins have added some impressive wins and nearly gave the Chiefs their first loss of the season.
The Eagles have a tough test on their home turf this Monday in a battle that will likely play a big role in determining who wins the division.
2.) Washington Redskins (LW: 2)
Last Game: W 26-24 vs. Los Angeles Rams
Next Game: @ Philadelphia Eagles (5-1)
The Washington Redskins have a pretty strong argument to be the second best team in the division right now, too. Since dropping the opener to the Eagles, Washington has been playing very well against quality opponents.
First, Chris Thompson and the run game got going on the road versus the Los Angeles Rams. The ‘Skins pulled out a quality road victory over Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and the Rams in the Coliseum. Next, the Redskins returned back home to host Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, and the Oakland Raiders. Washington embarrassed the AFC West squad on national television, as Carr threw for just 118 yards and two interceptions on the road. Even in Washington’s second loss, the team looked impressive. The ‘Skins gave everything the Chiefs wanted and then-some at Arrowhead in a close, hard-fought game in which a late fumble returned for a touchdown makes the score look worse than it actually was in reality.
Kirk Cousins has been playing well, Preston Smith has been an absolute beast off of the edge for that defense, and do-it-all athlete Chris Thompson appears to be the team’s new game-breaking threat. Can Washington knock off Philly this week?
3.) Dallas Cowboys (LW:3)
Last Game: L 31-35 vs. Green Bay Packers (week five)
Next Game: @ San Francisco 49ers (0-6)
The Dallas Cowboys were thought to be much better this season. Dak Prescott is back and is playing extremely well over the last three games. He went toe-to-toe with the great Aaron Rodgers and has been carrying this team over the last few weeks. Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t played up to his standards thus far, partly because of the offensive line’s struggles, but he found his groove in the fourth quarter against the Packers. Rookie Jourdan Lewis has been a big boost, Demarcus Lawrence is playing like a man possessed, and David Irving is back, too.
So, why is Dallas sitting at 2-3? The team hasn’t been able to put everything together for four quarters. When Dak is rolling, the defense gives up a score. When the defense makes a stop, the offense hits a wall. For whatever reason, this team just has not been able to put a complete game together yet. The run defense is extremely porous without Sean Lee, and the secondary is largely learning on the fly with players such as Lewis and Xavier Woods playing quality snaps.
Can the Cowboys turn things around and get things back on track? If so, it needs to start Sunday against the 49ers. While the Niners are winless, they have lost their last five games by a combined 15 points. Only the Carolina Panthers have pulled away. The Niners are hungry and will want nothing more than to beat the Dallas Cowboys at home. How will the Cowboys respond?
4.) New York Giants (LW: 4)
Last Game: W 23-10 vs. Denver Broncos
Next Game: vs. Seattle Seahawks (3-2)
Up until last week, the Giants were still looking for their first win of the season. Once pegged as a Super Bowl contender, the Giants have fallen apart. Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall are both out, but the rest of the team hadn’t looked good at all — until Sunday Night.
The Giants, who may have the worst offensive line in the league, somehow found a running game against the best run defense in the National Football League. Running back Orleans Darkwa broke 100-yards against the Broncos’ nasty defense — something that Zeke, Melvin Gordon, LeSean McCoy, and Marshawn Lynch all failed to do.
Orleans Darkwa had 117 yards on 21 carries vs Broncos who had previously held Gordon, Elliott, McCoy, & Lynch to 95 yds on 50 att combined— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) October 16, 2017
The Cowboys defeated the Giants 19-3. The Broncos blew out the Cowboys 42-17. So, naturally, the Giants got their first win of the season in a 13-point win over the Broncos. The defense forced Trevor Siemian to throw two interceptions — one pick-six — and the Giants completely outplayed Denver. It was strange to see. Can the Giants find success against the Seahawks?
How would you rank the NFC East right now?