NFL Week 7: What an interesting two weeks for the NFC East
Posted by silentarchimedes on October 19, 2008
When the New York Giants jumped out to a 4-0 record and was proclaimed the best team in the NFL, many Dallas, Redskins and even Eagles fans quickly screamed, “Woah, Nellie, hold the horses!”. After all, the only team they beat that was remotely any good was the Redskins. The defeats of the Rams, Bengals and Seahawks were expected and thus the Giants deserved no credit for the wins. The ‘Skins were 4-1 and hadn’t lost since the opening mess against the Giants. They were a different team now. They beat the Cowboys and Eagles. And the Cowboys, also 4-1, claimed that they at least had beaten the Eagles. Even the 2-3 Eagles fans said they hung tough with the Cowboys to barely lose 41-37 and beat the Steelers 15-6. To the rest of the NFC East, they sounded as if the Giants, at 4-0, is the worst team in the division or at the very least hadn’t proven anything.
Look what has happened in just the last two weeks. The Cowboys lost to both the Cardinals (30-24, OT) and Rams (34-14). Teams they were expected to beat. The same Rams that had already been destroyed by both the Giants (44-6) and Eagles (38-3). What happened to giving the Giants no respect for beating them? The Rams game was most disappointing considering they were down 21-7 by the end of the first quarter and never really put up a fight. Although some fans might pin the loss on backup QB Brad Johnson and his 3 INTs, the truth of the matter is the rest of the team simply didn’t help him or put up a fight at all. With the Cowboys at 4-3 instead of a possible 6-1, there’s now rumblings of missing the playoffs! The same team that almost everyone picked to be in the Super Bowl this year!
The Redskins also didn’t fare much better the past two weeks. They also lost to the supposed horrible team, the Rams, 19-17 and then eked out a 14-11 win against the Browns. A last second 54 yard field goal attempt by the Browns barely went wide or the game would have gone into overtime. This was the same 1-3 Browns team that exposed the Giants on Monday Night last week.
The Eagles were off this weekend, but they also almost lost to a bad team last weekend. They were down 26-17 at the end of the third quarter to the lowly 2-3 49ers, before piling on 23 points in the fourth quarter to win 40-26. The problem was it wasn’t really the Eagles that won it in the fourth, but the mistakes of 49ers’ QB JT O’Sullivan, who had two INTs and a lost fumble in the fourth quarter alone.
Not to be outdone by their NFC East counterparts, the Giants also have had a rough two weeks. After having a chance to go up two games on the loss column to their nearest competitor in the division if they’d only beat the 1-3 Browns on Monday night, they came out listless and confused in front of a national audience. They were exposed on both sides of the football and lost 35-14. After that loss, many division rival fans proclaimed victory that they were right, the Giants ARE horrible. What they failed to acknowledge was that the Browns are not the 1-3 team coming into Monday night. There were high expectations for them before the season began. Could it be that they were finally playing up to par? The fact that they also played the Redskins tough this weekend shows they are at least a decent team. However, the Giants also played a mistake-filled game against the 49ers today. Once again it was the 49ers penalties and mistakes by O’Sullivan that greatly helped the Giants win the game.
So what to make of the NFC East after seven weeks? After five weeks, the division was easily the best in the NFL. However, the division collectively went 3-4 the past two weeks, where the three wins were of the lucky and ugly varieties. This also proves something that I’ve been defending with the Giants all season to the other rival fans. The ease of a schedule makes no difference if you can’t beat the easy teams. The fact that the Giants did beat easy teams should not be held against them. A win is a win. In essence they were already giving the easy wins to their own teams even though those games hadn’t been played yet. Once some of them were played, we saw the Cowboys lose to the Rams, the Skins lose to the Rams, and the Eagles almost lose to the 49ers. Additionally, a team’s record after 5 weeks is not always indicative of how good a team really is. A 1-3 team can also mean the team is playing under its potential and could play to its ability on any given Sunday, a la the Browns. Another example is the 0-2 Giants last year who ended up winning the Super Bowl.
There is plenty of football left in the season. Any of the NFC East teams have the ability to go on a run to claim the division title. All we know at this point is that the Giants are in first at 5-1, the Skins in second at 5-2, the Cowboys at 4-3, and the Eagles bringing up the rear at 3-3. One game at a time.
By virtue of their records and points differential (+69 to +12), I give the edge to the Giants as the best team in the NFC East right now. However, with the Giants at tough Pittsburgh and the Redskins at Detroit the NFC East leaderboard could change after next weekend.
1. Giants (Steelers, 5-1, away)
2. Redskins (Lions, 0-6, away)
3. Eagles (Falcons, 4-2, home)
4. Dallas (Bucs, 4-2, home)