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NFC East preview: Where things sit heading into Week 5

The Dallas Cowboys, and the rest of the NFC East, are on the road on Sunday. We look into their prospects.

Dallas Cowboys v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

It can be challenging to follow the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFC East simultaneously. No need to worry; that’s what the NFC East roundup is for. Each week of the season, we’ll look back at the games that happened while previewing the upcoming matchups.

The Washington Commanders already played in prime time on Thursday night and lost to the Chicago Bears. That leaves the door open for the New York Giants to gain ground and no longer sit in the division’s basement.

With the rest of the division on the road for Week 5, here is the NFC East preview.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys (3-1) @ San Francisco 49ers (4-0)

The game the Cowboys and fans had circled on their calendar before the season started is finally here. Two juggernauts of the NFC are squaring off on Sunday night for supremacy of the conference. This game could be for first place in the NFC if the Philadelphia Eagles lose to the Los Angeles Rams before kickoff and fall to 4-1.

Dallas and San Francisco have been talking about how physical this battle will be all week. This might be both teams at the peak of their powers out of their previous two matchups in the playoffs.

The Cowboys acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks specifically for this moment. In their Divisional loss a season ago, the Dallas offense was down to CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz as their go-to playmakers after Tony Pollard left with his injury. They needed more juice on offense and could no longer get from just the guys they had.

Cooks has been quiet until now, but this would be the perfect game for him to break out. He could be matched up against the 49ers’ second cornerback Deommodore Lenoir. He could be better when it comes to coverage.

Pro Football Focus has his coverage grade at 55.5, which ranks 16th on the team. There are only 17 graded players on the report. Lenoir is allowing 77.4 percent of targets in his direction to be caught. If Dallas wants to win the game, it might have to come through the air, and Lenior should be their No. 1 player to attack.

NFL: SEP 20 Rams at Eagles Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Philadelphia Eagles (4-0) @ Los Angeles Rams (2-2)

At the beginning of the season, it looked like it would be a cakewalk for the Eagles to win this game. However, the Rams have shown a ton of fight in their game, which people were surprised to find out.

After coming into the year with a roster flooded with rookies and inexperience, Sean McVay has coached the heck out of this team to get them to a 2-2 record. Wide receiver Puka Nacua has come out of nowhere, and the defense is performing better than expected.

They are 24th in defensive DVOA, but their pass defense allows just 184.8 yards per game through the air, which ranks seventh in the NFL. This doesn’t bode well for an Eagles team that, outside of Week 4, has struggled to get their passing game going.

Luckily for them, A.J. Brown’s breakout game came at a great time. Brown had nine receptions against the Commanders in Week 4 for 175 yards and two touchdowns. It seems like Brown and Jalen Hurts have found their rhythm on offense.

Since the Eagles are struggling to defend the passing game, allowing 260.8 yards per game (27th in the league), this could be a shootout where 30 points won’t be enough to win the game for either team.

The Eagles are the better, more experienced team, but don’t be surprised if the Rams keep it close, especially with Cooper Kupp set to return for McVay’s offense.

New York Giants v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

New York Giants (1-3) @ Miami Dolphins (3-1)

The Giants couldn’t deliver in what was a must-win game to keep their playoff hopes alive. Given the NFC, there’s still a chance they could sneak in, but their odds are slowly slipping away.

The records for New York and Miami couldn’t paint a better picture. Both teams are heading in the opposite direction, with the Dolphins eyeing a division championship and potential Super Bowl appearance. The Giants are just trying to stop a two-game losing streak that has looked bad in all aspects.

Through New York’s first two home games, they have scored a total of three points. That’s the worst point total in the last 40 years. Teams who floated around that number were the 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars, who scored five points in their first two home games, finishing the year with a 4-12 record. Another team was the 1999 Cleveland Browns, who scored seven points and finished with a 2-14 record.

The bottom line for the Giants is that they are fighting history and themselves as a team. Quarterback Daniel Jones was sacked 11 times on Monday Night Football and has gotten no help from his offensive line. The team has missed Saquon Barkley, but he’s still questionable ahead of Sunday’s matchup in Miami.

Miami is trying to correct some things after losing in Buffalo the week prior, so they could be looking to put up 70 points for the second time this season. The Giants could continue to blitz at their near 50 percent rate because that seemed to rattle Miami’s offense against the Bills.

The term “near-perfect game” is thrown around a ton in sports. The Giants need to play an absolutely perfect game if they want to leave South Beach with a win and keep their playoff hopes alive.

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