For the first time in a very long time, the NFC East did not see any of their teams take a loss. Bring on the primetime, this division is back!
Technically speaking only the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Football Team secured victories in Week 10. The New York Giants were on bye so didn’t totally hold back the average with a loss, but the week has allowed for good moods all throughout the Cowboys’ fanbase, and their rival’s.
Every week Brandon Gowton from Bleeding Green Nation and I get together to discuss the division on the NFC East Mixtape. Needless to say there were a lot of positive vibes floating around on this week’s episode which you can listen to above. Make sure to subscribe to the Blogging The Boys podcast network as well so you don’t miss out on any of our shows. Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
Each of the three wins this past week was interesting in their own way throughout the division. The Cowboys seem well on track to make the playoffs and contend in them, but these victories have Philadelphia and Washington fans wondering if they can also earn postseason berths.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)
To be perfectly clear it isn’t preposterous to suggest that Philly or Washington (who we’ll get to shortly) could be Wildcard teams this season. That particular race is wide open and at present time the seven seed is a .500 Carolina Panthers team and all of the “in the hunt” squads are obviously below that threshold. That includes the Eagles and Football Team.
Philly is seeing more sustainable play from Jalen Hurts as of late, DeVonta Smith is starting to produce more consistently, and even head coach Nick Sirianni is stabilizing a bit. Mix all of that together with an easy remaining schedule and the Eagles could find themselves playing in mid-January.
Let’s not kid ourselves, the Eagles aren’t going into Green Bay, Arizona or Dallas and beating the Packers, Cardinals or Cowboys in the playoffs. In fact, the NFC’s top five teams (Bucs and Rams included) are all juggernauts. All can go to the Super Bowl.
However, with seven playoff teams and three wild cards in the NFC, the door is open for some mediocre teams, like the Eagles, to sneak in. At 4-6, the Eagles are currently No. 11 in the conference, one game behind the 5-5 Carolina Panthers, who hold the No. 7 seed, and a half-game behind the Vikings, Falcons and 49ers (all 5-6).
The lackluster play of two supposed NFC West powers, the 49ers and Seahawks, has been surprising and has opened the door for the Birds. And while San Francisco’s victory over the Rams on Monday Night Football likely saved their season, a door has been opened for the Eagles to sneak through.
There is a scenario where the Dallas Cowboys are firmly entrenched in their playoff position come Week 18 (whatever seed they ultimately land) and the Philadelphia Eagles need that win as the final stepping stone to be the third Wildcard team.
What would you want then? For the Cowboys to rest and prioritize their playoff game? To play and prohibit Philly from getting in? Obviously it would all depend on seeding as if the Cowboys were the second seed then they would be the team that would host Philly in the playoffs.
These are questions we need to start thinking about.
Up Next: New Orleans Saints (5-4)
Washington Football Team (3-6)
While we all enjoyed the Cowboys throttling of the Falcons, if we are being objective there was no NFC East win more impressive (shocking really) than Washington defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampa will finish off their NFC East schedule next week against the Giants, but they were previously undefeated against the group as they had beaten Dallas and Philadelphia. Washington is a little spicy in that they can show up in certain moments of certain games, which is why the Cowboys shouldn’t overlook their two remaining games against them, and managed to fluster Tom Brady and Co. enough to eek out the win.
Similar to Eagles fans, rooters of the Football Team are willing to allow themselves to be entertained by the notion of squeaking into the playoffs.
I realize that no one wants to talk about playoff opportunities for a team that is 3-6, but this is a team that has had improbable playoff runs after starting 3-6 in 2012, 3-5/4-6 in 2015, and 2-7 in 2020.
As I write this, the late-afternoon games are still being played and the SNF and MNF games have yet to start, but if the playoffs were to be at the end of this week’s play, then the two teams qualifying for the 6th & 7th seeds in the NFC would either both have 5 wins, or one of them (the Saints) would be 5-4 while the final seed would be a 4-win team.
That means that Washington will be either one or two games out of playoff position at the end of this week of play. Of the 5 teams that sit between Washington and a playoff seeding, Washington plays Carolina next week, and the Seahawks a week later. Wins in those two games would go a long way towards making the Football Team legitimate contenders for a wildcard spot. An early-season win over Atlanta gives Washington the tie-breaker over the Falcons. With 5 NFC East games to finish out the season, the Football Team could find itself contending for a playoff spot if they can play at the same level that they did in today’s victory over the Bucs, who are unanimously seen as a legitimate playoff team.
This was written on Sunday afternoon while the afternoon games themselves were still on, but Carolina won in the afternoon which bolstered their Wildcard odds (shout out to them for taking down the Cardinals!). It didn’t help Washington’s cause that San Francisco won on Monday night (it helped ours, though!), but still, the overall point stands.
Washington will visit the Panthers next week in what looks like it will be Cam Newton’s first start which just so happens to be taking place in front of a home crowd for the Panthers. Ron Rivera will also obviously be there so there is a lot of narrative hanging in the balance, but it feels unlikely that WFT will keep whatever hopes they have alive for much longer.
Up Next: at Carolina Panthers (5-5)
New York Giants (3-6)
While we just saw the Giants play on Monday Night Football we will be treated to it again this week when they visit the pissed off Buccaneers. That should be interesting.
Generally speaking the Giants have not been a fun team to watch, but they did almost win last time they played on a Monday night when they were on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. You know what they say about almost, though.
This is another national stage for a Giants team coming off of their bye that is going to be another opportunity for potential praise or huge criticism. Generally speaking it has been more of the latter for the G-Men and when the going gets tough like that there is often a sacrificial lamb offered by the head coach.
Will Jason Garrett make it to the finish line?
If the Giants really wanted to pin the blame for their struggling offense on offensive coordinator Jason Garrett they probably would have fired him during the bye week. Garrett remains the coordinator, and the offensive play-caller.
That, though, doesn’t mean Garrett will make it to the end of the season.
If the Giants continue to lose games, and continue to struggle offensively even if they get healthier, I can see Joe Judge sacrificing Garrett and turning to Freddie Kitchens to run the offense.
Honestly, if the Giants don’t improve on offense despite getting healthier there would be justification for that. Such a move, though, could also be considered self-preservation by Judge, whose seat could grow warmer if the Giants don’t win more games the rest of the way. He can always blame Garrett and make the case that he deserves a full chance with his guy — Kitchens — in charge of the offense.
The Giants entered their bye week off of a win against the Las Vegas Raiders who we will see next week. That bought them some good will, but that can fade really quickly in the National Football League.
We will see how things go on Monday night.
Up Next: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)