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NFC East roundup: A battle for wild card seeding

While the Cowboys and Eagles take on the AFC, the Giants and Commanders go against each other for the first time all season.

Dallas Cowboys v Indianapolis Colts

NFC East Pick ’em record: (24-11)

The Dallas Cowboys will be facing an AFC opponent for the second time this season. Their next three games are against AFC South teams, starting with the Indianapolis Colts.

While the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Tennessee Titans in an A.J. Brown revenge game, the Washington Commanders and the New York Giants are playing each other for important playoff positioning.

Buckle up Cowboys fans because December football is here, which means we’ll be getting the best play from the best division in the NFL. Here’s a look around the NFC East for Week 13.

Dallas Cowboys (8-3) vs. Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1)

After two heartbreaking losses in a row, the Colts will be traveling to AT&T Stadium on a short week after losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. Since firing former head coach Frank Reich, the Jeff Saturday-led Colts could be 3-0 if not for poor coaching in the fourth quarter.

Indianapolis was looking to upset the Eagles at home a few weeks back but failed to stop Jalen Hurts on a quarterback draw up the middle to give Philadelphia the lead with under two minutes to play. Last week, Saturday fumbled with his clock management and couldn’t give his team enough time to tie the game.

The newly appointed coach brought some juice to the locker room and a team that desperately needed it, but that energy can fizzle out quickly with mistakes like the ones that cost you the game. When the Cowboys line up to play the Colts on Sunday Night Football, they should remember how lucky it is to have Mike McCarthy as Dallas’ head coach.

Yes, McCarthy has a track record of making mistakes in game management. However, one could argue that 2022 has been one of his best seasons as a head coach. He helped guide the team to four straight wins without their starting quarterback, a position the Colts have struggled with all season. McCarthy has also preached health and helps players find the balance between toughness and thinking about the big picture. You can go back and listen to Ezekiel Elliott’s locker room interview before the Chicago Bears game for reference.

We know how bad this Indianapolis team is, and Dallas should win this game 30-10. With the current state of the Colts, it could have been like that for Dallas this season if McCarthy didn’t show us why he’s in the running for Coach of the Year. That has to stand for something.

Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) vs. Tennessee Titans (7-4)

As far as making the playoffs are concerned, the outcome of the game won’t matter for either team. The Titans are in complete control of their abysmal division, and even if the Eagles lose ground in the division title race with a loss, they are a lock to make the playoffs with ten wins.

The Eagles and Titans are looking for momentum at this point to carry them into January. A win against a ten-win team would go a long way for the morale of Tennessee. A win for Philadelphia will keep confidence in being the best team in football and get closer to the No. 1 seed.

Where both teams need to show something is in their passing game. If either is successful in that area, it will change how the outside media views them. Jalen Hurts rushed for over 150 yards against the Packers, bringing his season total to 597, which is higher than Najee Harris and Josh Allen. As a passer, Hurts is 15th in the NFL in passing yards and tied for ninth with 17 passing touchdowns. He has undoubtedly become a better throwing quarterback, but if he can have 350 yards and four touchdowns against a Mike Vrabel defense, he’ll be talked about as one of the best dual-threat players.

On the other hand, the Titans have struggled to get their passing offense going all season. Ryan Tannehill has been in and out of the lineup, but their offense desperately misses A.J. Brown. Their leading receiver is Robert Woods, which was expected, but with just 351 yards on the season and one touchdown. Tennessee’s first-round pick, Treylon Burks, has become relevant, but the definition of the Titan’s receiving corps in a nutshell is Burks scored his first touchdown as a Titan last week, but on a fumble recovery.

If they can somehow find a way to get the passing game going against a tough Eagles secondary, that will present a bigger challenge for opponents in the playoffs. Philadelphia will be without their safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who left last week’s game with a lacerated kidney, so Tennessee might be able to take a few deep shots with Burks.

Either team could win this game, but the Eagles are at home for this one, and their record is 5-1 when they play at the Linc. Philadelphia 23-13.

Washington Commanders (7-5) @ New York Giants (7-4)

Have you ever run into the uncomfortable scenario of walking down a grocery store aisle, and the person walking in your direction is right in your path? You can either go left or right, but the person somehow mirrors your every move. This game is the same way.

The Washington Commanders have won three of their last four games, while the New York Giants have lost three of their last four. These are two teams simply heading in opposite directions, and this matchup will be their “grocery aisle game.”

Whoever wins this game will send the other teams’ playoff hopes into a tailspin. Even though the Commanders are playing on the road, they have their bye week coming up and play the Giants again in two weeks. For New York, they play four divisional games in a row that started with the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, followed by Washington, Philadelphia, and Washington again.

Washington matches up well with the Giants, being the more dominant team on paper. Their defensive line is better than the Giant’s offensive line, their offensive weapons are better than the Giants, and the quarterback play just about breaks even. If Taylor Heinicke can go 6-1 as the Commander’s starter with a win against Big Blue, their chances to make the postseason jump up drastically.

The Giants can win this game if they follow the same game plan as the Atlanta Falcons from a week ago. After not allowing a team to rush for a combined 100 yards in three games, the Washington defense gave up 167 to the Falcons. The Falcons would have won if it weren’t for a goal-line interception to end the game. Saquon Barkley needs to get back to his early season form and rush for 180-plus yards and two touchdowns.

However, that’s a big ask for a beaten-up Giants offensive line. The Commanders win this game 21-17 and send the Giants deep into the grocery store with a long list of things to shop for before they can even think about checking out.

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