It can be tough 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.
One week, there could be a division game that takes place like it did between Dallas and New York, and there’ll be points and counterpoints for each team. However, with the Philadelphia Eagles playing on Thursday night, this roundup will react to what we saw and what it means for the NFC East.
Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) vs. Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
There couldn’t have been a sloppier way to start a football game than what happened on Thursday night. The Eagles and Vikings were playing turnover tennis, each making a bigger mistake than the last.
Before the Vikings scored their first touchdown, which gave them a 7-3 lead, the previous four combined possessions ended in Minnesota fumbling a punt, Jalen Hurts throwing an interception, a Vikings fumble, and a missed field goal by Philadelphia— just sloppy football.
After that, the Eagles ran the ball and continued with that game plan for the rest of the night. Kirk Cousins and the Vikings returned to make it a one-score game, but it was too late.
On the shoulders of DeAndre Swift’s 175-yard game, the Eagles sit at 2-0 but still have things to work out if they want to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl again. Not to mention that their defensive back, Avonte Maddox, tore his pectoral muscle and could miss the rest of the season. Philadelphia’s depth in the secondary is something to monitor.
Dallas Cowboys (1-0) vs. New York Jets (1-0)
At the beginning of the season, this could be the game of the year. The Cowboys have not beaten Aaron Rodgers at home, and Mike McCarthy has yet to beat his former pupil since leaving Green Bay.
Unfortunately, that will no longer happen. On Monday Night Football, Rodgers tore his Achilles on the fourth play of the Jets opening drive. Now, their season rests on the shoulders of their backup and former first-round pick Zach Wilson, who was set to sit behind Rodgers and learn for a few years.
Even if the Jets had Rodgers at quarterback, the game was expected to be low-scoring, considering Dallas and New York have two of the league’s best defenses. Both units have a rotation of pass rushers who can get to the quarterback and two studs on the defensive line in Micah Parsons and Quinnen Williams.
Think the comparisons stop there? Not at all. Stephon Gilmore and Trevon Diggs headline Dallas’ secondary, while New York has Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed. If Wilson and Dak Prescott aren’t careful in this game, there could be a few turnovers from interceptions that turn into points.
Where the game could be won for either team is whoever makes the least amount of mistakes and has the better day on special teams. The Jets have rookie Xavier Gipson, who has the speed and talent to return a punt for a touchdown, but so do the Cowboys in Pro Bowler KaVontae Turpin.
The Jets could be looking for a kicker as former Cowboy Greg Zuerlein injured his groin in practice on Thursday and is “50-50” to be available for the game. For a game that can come down to a 12-12 score, that could be a crushing blow for New York.
Washington Commanders (1-0) @ Denver Broncos (0-1)
The Commanders, led by their new commander-in-chief Josh Harris, won their first game under the new regime. While the Arizona Cardinals put up more of a fight than expected, it was always a game Washington should have won.
However, the first-year starter at quarterback, Sam Howell, put his team in unfavorable positions by fumbling a ball that gave Arizona seven points and throwing an interception. There were bright spots, like his rushing touchdown in the red zone, but it looks more of the same as what they had in Taylor Heinicke. If things keep going the way they are, there could be a change at quarterback if the team believes Jacoby Brissett gives them a better chance to win games. Right now, they are not at that point.
The Commanders are traveling to face a desperate Denver team that seemingly can’t afford to start 0-2 after so much promise of change this offseason. The advantage should be in Washington’s favor, they have a better overall defense and a pass rush that could make Russell Wilson extremely uncomfortable in the pocket.
New York Giants (0-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (0-1)
The Cowboys were always favored to win their opener against the Giants, but New York was never projected to lay the city-sized egg that they did. The team that beat the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs differed from the team that took the field on Sunday night against Dallas.
There was plenty of blame to go around, but it shouldn’t be shoveled on Daniel Jones. The offensive line did him no favors and allowed seven sacks to obliterate whatever game plan they had on offense. Not to mention, the weather was horrible. However, it was the same conditions Dallas had to play in, and they put up 40 points.
Luckily for Brian Daboll, the only way to go is up from that performance. There won’t be another point in the season that should feel that bad. If there is, then the fan base may revolt against ownership.
The Giants should win in Arizona, but one forgotten wrinkle in this matchup is the Cardinals’ head coach, Jonathan Gannon, who played New York a ton while he was in the NFC East. He was also the defensive coordinator who stonewalled the Giants in the playoffs a season ago.
While Gannon has different players, he should have a good game plan to stop Big Blue, given things haven’t changed on their offense. New York will win this game if they help Saquon Barkley rush for over 100 yards. It might be a tough ask, considering they could be without left tackle Andrew Thomas and tight end Darren Waller, but who knows—magical things always happen.