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NFC East round up: A battle for No. 1 in the division

While the Commanders took on the Bears in an uninteresting TNF matchup, the must-watch TV will be Sunday night.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

NFC East Pick ’em record: (11-6)

Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime has been plagued with bad matchups in the time slot in back-to-back weeks. While some form of football was played Thursday night, it turned out to be a win for the Washington Commanders over the Chicago Bears, 12-7.

The Dallas Cowboys are playing the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night for first place in the NFC East. Outside of the Chiefs-Bills rematch from the playoffs, the Cowboys-Eagles game would be the best game of the week.

Here’s a look around the NFC East for Week 6.

Dallas Cowboys (4-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-0)

There has been a lot of trash talk this week coming out of Philadelphia. Every year, there’s the mantra of “Beat Dallas.” We know how well that worked for the Eagles last season. Outside of the infamous Ben DiNucci game in 2020, the Cowboys have won the previous three matchups with a point differential of 129-64.

For the first time in two seasons, it feels like this rivalry is closer to a coin flip than Dallas walking in and handling business. In year two of head coach Nick Sirianni’s offense, everyone has bought in, and the offense is clicking. Jalen Hurts has become a more elusive runner, while Miles Sanders has found his groove as the team’s lead back. The team is second behind the Bills averaging 419.8 yards per game. They are also fourth in the league in rushing yards per game with a 160 average.

The part of this matchup that always felt one-sided was comparing the team’s talent at wide receiver. Now, that needle points in favor of the Eagles. A.J. Brown, who the team traded for in the offseason, has been a difference maker in Hurts’ development as a passer. DeVonta Smith has taken a leap in his second season with a skill set to complement Brown on the outside. Both receivers have a combined 789 yards and just two touchdowns. The “x-factor” for the offense will be Dallas Goedert, who is averaging about 14.0 yards a catch.

While the Eagles have a top-two offense, the Cowboys can counter that with their top-ranked defense. Led by Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence, Dallas has proven over five weeks that they can eliminate offensive firepower. They took down both Super Bowl teams from a season ago and neutralized the wide receivers of the Commanders.

This game will be a physical back-and-forth from start to finish like we saw against the New York Giants. This Cowboys team has the same special feeling that the 2014 squad had. Around Week 6 of ‘14, the team was tasked with the impossible of going to Seattle and beating the Seahawks. They pulled out the upset, and people started to respect Dallas. The same thing happens here when the Cowboys win 17-16.

New York Giants (4-1) vs. Baltimore Ravens (3-2)

If there was a poll before the season that asked, “who is more likely to be 4-1 by Week 6, Baltimore or New York?”, everyone would have picked the Ravens. Unfortunately for John Harbaugh, the two losses had a combined point differential of six.

The Ravens are the more talented team, with Lamar Jackson at quarterback. However, the kryptonite for the team all season has been their porous defense. Baltimore is ranked 28th in the NFL in yards per game allowed, with 398.2. The only teams worse than them are the Texans, Steelers, Lions, and Seahawks, all with a combined record of 5-14-1.

Baltimore’s run defense is much better than their pass defense. They are surrendering an average of 108 yards per game on the ground. For someone as dynamic as Saquon Barkley has been for Big Blue, it might be a tough day for him. That means all the pressure is on Daniel Jones and his rag-tag crew of receivers. There should be some favorable matchups for Jones as the Ravens are giving up the highest average of passing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks, with almost 300. Jones was efficient against the Packers defense completing over 75 percent of his passes and throwing for 217 yards.

Whichever team runs the ball better will end up winning the game. The advantage should go to Jackson and the Ravens because of how difficult a matchup he presents. However, Wink Martindale is the defensive coordinator for the Giants and has years of history with Jackson. If anyone can stop him, he can. New York is playing with the belief that hasn’t been present in almost ten years. Brian Daboll has his team rolling. This will be a statement game for the Giants as they improve to 5-1, winning 24-23.

Washington Commanders (2-4) at Chicago Bears (2-4)

This game was already played on Thursday night and gave NFL fans another stinker of a game. There isn’t much to take from this game, as both teams were underwhelming, to say the least. The only fireworks from the game came in Ron Rivera’s post-game press conference.

The biggest development will be to see what happens with Carson Wentz moving forward. It was reported that Wentz suffered a fractured finger in his throwing hand and will speak to a specialist in Los Angeles. The Commanders have time to figure out a solution as they don’t play until the 23rd against the Packers. It might be the first time fans see Sam Howell at quarterback, and he might not let go of the starting role so easily.

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