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NFC East roundup: Trying to stay healthy before the bye

The Dallas Cowboys look to win one more before their week off.

Dallas Cowboys v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

NFC East Pick ’em record: (14-8)

Dak Prescott made his return to the Cowboys lineup by beating the Detroit Lions 24-6. His play didn’t look pretty at times, but Prescott made throws to Dalton Schultz and CeeDee Lamb that highlighted “vintage Dak.”

No team in the NFC East lost in Week 7 as the New York Giants kept rolling, and the Washington Commanders embarrassed the Packers in Maryland. With the Philadelphia Eagles coming off their bye week, the division will look to continue its dominance over the NFL.

Here’s a look around the NFC East for Week 8.

Dallas Cowboys (5-2) vs. Chicago Bears (3-4)

The Bears coaching staff talked about how they used their mini-bye week to figure out ways to use the strengths of Justin Fields better. The extra time in the lab worked as Fields had his best outing as a ball carrier against the Patriots. He was given designed plays running for 82 yards on 14 carries.

Fields wasn’t the only Bear running up and down the Patriots defense. David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert finished the night with 62 yards on the ground, and each had a touchdown. Montgomery is a more traditional runner, while Herbet replaces what the offense had in Tarik Cohen but with a bigger frame.

Dallas is limping into this game with a long list of players on the injury report. Key players like Sam Williams, Malik Hooker, Noah Brown, and Ezekiel Elliott were listed as “did not practice” on the practice report. Other players like Micah Parsons, Terence Steele, and Dalton Schultz were limited participants. The Cowboys will dig into the depth of their team to leave Sunday with a win and a healthier team.

The Chicago secondary is better than advertised, but the defense is struggling to defend the run. If Pollard gets the nod as the starter, he should find every hole in their defense. The Bears have allowed 65 rushing first downs, which leads the league, and are allowing opposing offenses to convert over 46 percent of their third down attempts, which is dead last. Pollard will have a breakout game with two touchdowns and over 120 yards rushing, leading Dallas to a 24-10 win.

Philadelphia Eagles (6-0) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5)

The battle for Pennsylvania supremacy. The Eagles are not only coming off their bye week, but they get to play a Steelers defense that has given up 394.3 yards per game. The perfect recipe for a win.

Pittsburgh transitioned to rookie Kenny Pickett at quarterback, who will be starting for the fourth time this season. Pickett completes 68 percent of his passes but has seven interceptions through five games. For an Eagles defense that leads the NFL in takeaways, that’s music to their ears.

The Steelers have the players and talent on offense to compete with anyone. Unfortunately, the offensive scheme has been highly criticized for being rudimentary in “high school concepts.” Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, and George Pickens are the perfect players to help Pickett and his development as a pro, but it depends on if he has the time in the pocket to throw.

The Philly front office has decided to go all in to win a Super Bowl while the Steelers are in full development mode. Howie Roseman made a move and traded for Robert Quinn to bolster their pass rush. He only has one sack on the season but has played better than his stat line shows. There’s no reason to bet against the Eagles going to 7-0 by a score of 29-10.

New York Giants (6-1) at Seattle Seahawks (4-3)

Believe it or not, this is the only matchup for Week 8 that features two winning teams. We watched Brady vs. Rodgers, and now we get Daniel Jones vs. Geno Smith. If anyone put money on that at the beginning of the season, they would have gotten some sweet odds.

This game features the two biggest surprise teams of 2022. The Giants are on a four-game winning streak, and the Seahawks have won three out of their last four relying on the run game. Both offenses are top 10 in total rushing yards, with talented backs in Saquon Barkley and rookie Kenneth Walker.

The game should come down to the level of quarterback play. Geno Smith leads the league in completion percentage, and Daniel Jones is more of a threat to run. Smith will be without top wideout DK Metcalf, who suffered an ankle injury and will miss four to six weeks. The Seahawks still have Tyler Lockett and veteran Marquise Goodwin to carry the load.

Seattle and New York are playing with house money because both teams were supposed to be in rebuild mode. But because of the power shift in the NFC, both teams would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. This game could be the flip of a coin, but the crowd will play a significant factor with it being in Seattle. Give me the Seahawks 19-17.

Washington Commanders (3-4) at Indianapolis Colts (3-3-1)

The schedule makers wanted this to be the Carson Wentz revenge game. Instead, it will be Taylor Heinicke vs. Sam Ehlinger. The expectation for both offenses heading into the season was promising. The Commanders finally had their quarterback to be the centerpiece of their team, and the Colts got former MVP Matt Ryan, to exercise the ghosts of Andrew Luck. Ryan and Wentz have been everything but that.

The Colts are turning to their preseason MVP in Sam Ehlinger, who went 24 of 29 for 289 yards and threw for four touchdowns. It’s a win-win situation for the team. Either they find out if Ehlinger is their next franchise quarterback, or they lose enough games for a top draft pick and select their future quarterback. At 3-3-1, they are still in the playoff hunt, so hopefully, the new blood will inject some life into the offense.

Washington beat the Packers last week at home to keep their playoff hopes alive without Wentz. If the Commanders win their next three of four games with Heinicke, Ron Rivera won’t hesitate to keep Wentz on the bench. The offense has a solid one-two punch at running back with Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson. Terry McLaurin seems to play better with Heinicke too.

The Commanders have the better defensive front to attack a battered Colts offensive line. If Indianapolis were playing a team like the Texans, it would be a better situation for Ehlinger. Washington stays alive in the NFC playoff race, winning 21-20.

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