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NFC East roundup: Commanders try to keep pace in the division

With Dallas and New York on their bye week, Washington will try to insert itself into the NFC playoff race.

Chicago Bears v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

NFC East Pick ’em record: (18-8)

There was a clean sweep in the picks column last week, going a perfect 4-0. With the Cowboys and the Giants on their bye this week, only two NFC East teams have the chance to stack wins at a historic pace.

Here’s a look around the NFC East for Week 9.

Philadelphia Eagles (8-0) vs Houston Texans (1-6-1)

Changing things up this week, it made no sense to preview this game. Evaluating the Eagles after they win would be the best way to evaluate both teams. If anyone out there bet on Houston for an upset, you had better luck winning the Power Ball.

The Texans made it enjoyable by scoring on their opening drive, getting a strip sack on Jalen Hurts in the second quarter, and keeping it 14-14 at halftime. However, even with a few hiccups on the Eagles offense, they still had their way with Houston’s defense through the air and on the ground.

Philadelphia won 29-17, but it looked like their sloppiest game of the season. Their defense allowed rookie back Dameon Pierce to rush for 139 yards on 27 carries. It’s the largest rushing total given up by the defense since Week 1 against the Lions. A big reason is defensive tackle Jordan Davis missed Thursday night’s game and will miss at least four weeks after landing on injured reserve.

The secondary did snag two interceptions but allowed a surprising amount of big plays to a no-name Texans receiving corps. Davis Mills completed both his passes that went over 27 yards and had a wide receiver screen go for 25 yards.

When it mattered, Hurts showed the same ability to escape he has shown all season and connected with Dallas Goedert for eight catches, 100 yards, and a touchdown. The Eagles running game was their best part on offense, with Miles Sanders bursting through the offensive line for 93 yards and one touchdown.

The Eagles have looked vulnerable against bad opponents in the Jaguars and now the Texans. Nick Sirianni also decided to call a quarterback draw on a 3rd and 15 with a little over a minute and a half to go in the game, up 12. Those boneheaded calls can injure the quarterback and end a season. If Philadelphia can clean things up, there is no reason they shouldn’t lose another game this season.*

*(until they meet in Dallas, of course).

Washington Commanders (4-4) vs. Minnesota Vikings (6-1)

The Minnesota Vikings have already lost to an NFC East opponent this season. Will the Commander be No. 2? There is a solid argument to be made for yes.

Washington is on a three-game win streak, coming off of a convincing comeback victory over the Sam Ehlinger-led Colts. Now the game itself was not impressive. The Commanders have shown this season when they go down early, it’s not in their DNA to play from behind.

However, there is something to the spunk of Taylor Heinicke that seems to will this team back from defeat. Not only did he put Terry McLaurin in “hero mode” with his deep shot near the end of the game, but Heinicke took the quarterback sneak on the next play to give the Commanders the 17-16 lead.

The Washington fans will live and die by the quarterback who went up against a Tom Brady Buccaneers team in the 2020 Wild Card and who threw a terrible interception this game to almost seal the win for Indianapolis. Heinicke’s style of play can spark the team and motivate them to play better.

The Vikings can win this game if they attack through the air. The Commanders defensive front is stout against the run and should give Dalvin Cook trouble from start to finish. The Washington secondary has talent, but matching up with the Minnesota weapons favors the Vikings.

Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and newly acquired T.J. Hockenson should present problems all day if Kirk Cousins is protected. Lucky for Cousins, this game isn’t in primetime, so the Vikings extend their streak, winning 27-17 before their matchup with the Cowboys.

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