State of the NFC East: Week 12

Dallas Cowboys 10-1 103 3-1 6-1
NY Giants 8-3 18 2-1 5-3
Washington Redskins 6-4-1 16 2-2 4-3
Philadelphia Eagles 5-6 41 0-3 3-6

Week after week, the Cowboys remain the class of the NFC East and probably the entire conference. Their 10-game winning streak is the best in franchise history, which is pretty impressive considering it is a franchise with five Super Bowl championships. Rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are both making a good case for Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player. On Thanksgiving the two of them carved up Washington’s hapless defense, with a generous assist from the league’s best offensive line. The Dallas defense remains good enough, considering all the help it gets from the offense. This is a team built to win in December, January, and, just maybe, a game on the first Sunday of February. All five of Dallas’ remaining games are against the NFC and two are in the division. The road won’t be easy for Dallas — only one of their remaining opponents currently has a record below .500 and their overall record is 32-23. The Cowboys have earned their top seed in the conference and they will have to continue to do so.

The Giants just keep winning, despite rarely looking very good in the process. They’ve won six in a row to get to 8-3, but not a single team they’ve beaten during that winning streak currently has a winning record and their latest victim, the 0-12 Cleveland Browns, is the only team the Giants could put down by a double-digit margin. Things get tougher from now on, though, and we will find out if the Giants are a playoff-worthy team or just a pretender that has been feeding off the weak and infirm. A trip to Pittsburgh comes this Sunday and then the Giants host the Cowboys and Lions before finishing on the road in Philadelphia and Washington. The Giants need to win two of their last five games to get to 10 wins and an almost-certain wild card spot in the playoffs. Can they find those two wins?

Philadelphia’s Monday night home loss to the Green Bay Packers (losers of four straight entering the game) is a bad one for the Eagles. They’ve now lost four of their last five and six of their last eight games and their terrible record in the division and conference make any sort of comeback this season virtually impossible. They have a winnable game coming up against the woeful Cincinnati Bengals, but after that the Eagles face the Baltimore Ravens and all three NFC East rivals. It looks like playing spoiler is all that’s left for Philadelphia.

With a smoking hot QB leading an elite offense, the Redskins appear to be well-poised to, at the very least, hang on to that final wild card spot they currently occupy. Fortunately, for Washington, the toughest part of their schedule is now over and only one team remaining on the schedule currently has a winning record, the Giants, who play the Skins in the season finale for both teams. Before that, Washington goes on the road to play Arizona and Philadelphia, two struggling teams, before returning to DC to face another struggling team, the Panthers. After that, the Skins get what should be a slam dunk in Chicago against the pitiful Bears in week 16. The combined record of Washington’s remaining opponents is 23-31-1, so the Skins have a very plausible road to a wild card berth, if their offense can keep making up for the problems of a poor defense.

The division — and home field throughout the NFC playoffs — is pretty much locked up for the Cowboys and the Eagles look done. That leaves the Giants and Redskins to provide the suspense in the revitalized NFC East. The Giants never look too good, but they’ve amassed enough wins that only a major collapse could keep them from the playoffs. The Redskins, meanwhile, are a team that could go either way, but their at-times unstoppable offense (at least until the 20-yard line) gives them the ability to beat almost anyone.


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