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NFC East roundup: Teams looking to separate from the pack

Where do all four teams need to improve heading into Week 2?

NFL: NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Writers welcome corrective criticism. It's how they improve their writing, their style, and how to engage more with readers. All four teams in the NFC East have some things to work on before they play football this weekend. Some need more work than others.

The record prediction for last week was spot on. However, the team ending with the lone loss was not expected. It did not seem possible the New York Giants had any chance to win against the Titans or that the Dallas Cowboys would look in preseason form against the Buccaneers. But here we are.

The Philadelphia Eagles handled their business on the road, while the Washington Commanders exceeded expectations in the Carson Wentz revenge game against his former head coach Doug Pederson.

In Week 2, the winners have the chance to build momentum, while the Cowboys find a way to survive until their quarterback returns. Here is the latest NFC East roundup.

Dallas Cowboys (0-1) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)

Dak Prescott, Jayron Kearse, Connor McGovern, and Tarell Basham are expected to miss multiple weeks. It may seem like there is a gray cloud over Arlington, Texas, but all is not lost.

For all the problems the Cowboys had on offense, their defense kept the game close until the very end. Only allowing Tom Brady and the Bucs offense to score just one touchdown in a lopsided game was impressive. Micah Parsons was all over the place, and the red zone defense dug their heels in when Brady knocked on the door of the endzone.

The offense did have bright spots as well. Rookie tackle Tyler Smith looks like he will be fine given more reps and time at the NFL level, and Ezekiel Elliott looked explosive in his limited carries.

Cooper Rush is the x-factor this week. He will be getting the second start of his career after playing against the Minnesota Vikings in 2021. Rush showed enough in that game to give the front office confidence that it can happen again.

If the Cowboys can improve their play-calling and allow Cooper Rush to build a rhythm, there is a chance the offense can keep the game close. The Cincinnati offense also struggled in their opener against the Steelers, allowing seven sacks and five turnovers. That could be good news for a Dallas defense that led the league in taking the ball away in 2021.

The Bengals and Cowboys will be looking for their first win of the season. This game could look like Week 1 against the Bucs, with how many weapons Cincinnati has on offense. The Dallas offense should be better this week but not good enough for a win. The final score will be 23-14, Bengals.

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) vs. Minnesota Vikings (1-0)

Even if one team had lost its Week 1 matchup, this would still be an exciting primetime game. With the Eagles and Vikings coming into Monday Night after impressive starts to the season, this game might be one of the best of Week 2.

The Eagles started slowly against the Lions last Sunday but hit their stride for the rest of the game. A.J. Brown looked every bit of being a dominant No. 1 receiver catching ten passes for 155 yards, the most ever by a Philadelphia wideout in their first game with the team.

The strength of this offense will be their running attack. Miles Sanders is healthy and looks like his old self, and Jalen Hurts seemed better at running the ball than throwing it. Backup running backs Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott also had one touchdown a piece.

Where the team needs work is on the defensive side of the ball. For most of the game, Philly held the Lions in their cage. They allowed Detroit to score just 14 points in the first half. Then after halftime, the Lions scored 21 points, 14 of them coming in the fourth quarter. If the team wants to beat more formidable teams, like the Vikings, they can't allow so many second-half touchdowns.

This Minnesota team feels different under first-year head coach Kevin O'Connell. Another disciple of the Sean McVay coaching tree, O'Connell kept it simple in their win over the Green Bay Packers. Get Justin Jefferson the ball.

If the Eagles want to win this game, their run defense needs to be better, and the corners have to shut down Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Week 2 is also Philadelphia's home opener which should bring in a large crowd. It hurts to say, but the Eagles will find a way to stop the Vikings offense in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and win 24-20.

New York Giants (1-0) vs. Carolina Panthers (0-1)

The curse of the infamous "Boat Picture" seems to be over. The New York Giants have a winning record for the first time since 2016. A big reason is an energy that first-year head coach Brian Daboll brings.

Instead of going for the tie after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Daboll decided to go for the two-point conversion with one minute remaining in the game. His gusty call paid off as the Giants took the lead 21-20.

The Titans would have won if it wasn't for the missed field goal to end the game. At times, the New York squad looked good, but for most of the game, it was the same old Giants that fans are used to seeing.

Much like Jalen Hurts with the Eagles, New York is at the mercy of Daniel Jones at the quarterback position. With under nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Jones threw a bad interception in the endzone, which would have brought the Giants within one point. Jones will continue to be a liability with his decision-making.

The biggest news coming out of the game is the resurgence of Saquon Barkley. The former first-round pick totaled almost 200 yards of offense, scored a touchdown, and ripped off a 68-yard run. Daboll also put the ball in the hands of Barkley, the team's best player, to win the game.

The Giants also have their home opener this weekend and are the most likely of the teams in the NFC East to start 2-0. They get a matchup with a Panthers team that looks lost and couldn't win a close game against a Jacoby Brissett-led Browns team. If Barkley can have another explosive game on the ground and Jones can protect the football, New York should walk away with this one 30-13.

Washington Commanders (1-0) at Detroit Lions (0-1)

Carson Wentz took command and played a solid game against his former coach. Wentz finished the day completing 27 of 41 passes for 313 yards, four touchdowns, and two terrible interceptions.

Just like the Giants, the Commanders had no business winning this game but found some magic to take the lead at the end of the game. The Commanders have seemed to find a quarterback in Wentz that can do enough on offense to win games.

The team's strength is still the defensive front, led by Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. Surprisingly, the secondary held up and only allowed Jacksonville to convert 3 of their 12 thirrd-down attempts.

Behind the Giants, the Commanders also have a shot to start the year 2-0 playing a Lions team that plays tough but still has Jared Goff at quarterback. Detroit did score 35 points against the Eagles, with most of them coming at the end of the game.

After Goff and Wentz went first and second overall in the 2016 draft, both quarterbacks have had similar careers. There seems to be an interception to follow at the wrong time for every two touchdowns they throw. The winner of this game will be because the quarterback didn't give the ball away when it mattered.

The Lions are favored at home for the first time in a while, but Wentz has the better players on offense to throw the ball to. Terry McLaurin has two touchdowns in this game, and Washington leaves this Detroit with a 24-16 win.

NFC East Week 2 record prediction:

Dallas Cowboys (0-2)

Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)

Washington Commanders (2-0)

New York Giants (2-0)

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