As other divisions in the National Football League begin to crown their champions, the NFC East continues to have a competition. Say what you want about the quality of play. The truth is, this division is closing out the 2015 season in one, if not the most exciting finishes of any division this year.
As things stand now after the New York Giants beat the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football, there is a three-way tie on top of the East including the Washington Redskins, the New York Giants, and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Skins have the tiebreakers on their side at the moment, so technically the Redskins lead.
Last week the Eagles surprised everyone by defeating the New England Patriots. This week they beat the Buffalo Bills. The Redskins disappointed many, especially their fans, when they lost a close one to the Dallas Cowboys at home at FedEx. That’s somewhat of a surprise since the Redskins were 5-1 at home before the loss. The Skins beat the Chicago Bears at Soldiers Field in Chicago this week. That’s another surprise. The win was their first on the road this season.
Meanwhile the Giants lost a close one to their city rivals, the Jets, last week. But they bounced back with a win against the Miami Dolphins.
So, who has the advantage? Most sports pundits pick the Redskins. They have the tiebreakers on their side and their schedule finishes out easier than the other competitors.
The Redskins beat the Bears thanks to a pretty good performance by Kirk Cousins, a great performance by tight end Jordan Reed, a pretty good defensive effort, and a Robbie Gould missed field goal.
Cousins collected 300 yards in the air, threw a touchdown pass, and ran for another score. He finished with 24 completions on 31 attempts, a touchdown and an interception and was sacked three times. Reed caught nine passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. Moreover, even though the Redskins running game has been less than dismal in the last few games, they were able to collect just short of 100 yards on 33 carries. Matt Jones led the group with 62 yards on 18 carries. Although Alfred Morris was held to only 24 yards on 11 carries, he did rush for one score.
Jay Cutler finished with 19 completions on 31 throws for 315 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked three times and had one fumble. The Redskins defense held the Bears’ runners to only 87 yards on 27 carries. Alshon Jeffery caught six passes for 107 yards and a touchdown and Zach Miller contributed 85 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Cutler threw a 50-yard pass to Jeffery that put the ball on the Washington 35 yard line, but Gould missed the 50-yard try with 1:40 left. REDSKINS 24 BEARS 21
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Caleb Sturgis nailed a 30-yard field goal with 3:26 remaining, Eagles’ safety Ed Reynolds grabbed a pick on a Tyrod Taylor pass in the final minutes, and the Eagles beat the Bills.
This was LeSean McCoy’s first game in Philadelphia after being traded prior to the season. He showed respect for the franchise as he kissed the Eagles’ logo at midfield before the coin toss and hugged Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie. He never approached Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.
Obviously wanting to show off Kelly for trading him, McCoy rushed for 74 yards and collected 35 yards receiving. He was the first player off the field after the game ended and slammed his helmet into the wall of the locker room as a sign of frustration.
Taylor had completed 222 passes without an interception going into the game. However, Reynolds intercepted his pass with 1:16 remaining to seal the victory.
The Bills were working on a comeback in the third quarter. Mike Gillslee ran 19-yards for a score to tie the game at 20. The Eagles got a first down at the Bills 24 yard line on a drive before Sam Bradford threw his first interception since October 25. Later Bradford threw a 41-yard pass to Zach Ertz on third-and-three to set up the Eagles go-ahead field goal.
Bradford finished with 23 completions on 38 throws for 247 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked once. Darren Sproles led the Eagles runners with 41 yards on seven carries and a touchdown. The Eagles’ running game managed to collect 116 yards on 34 carries. Leading receivers were Zach Ertz with five receptions for 98 yards and Nelson Agholor, who caught three passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.
Taylor had 19 completions on 36 throws for 268 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked once. McCoy was the leading rusher for the Bills with 74 yards on 20 carries. Leading receivers were Robert Woods with five receptions for 106 yards and Sammy Watkins with five catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. EAGLES 23 BILLS 20
The New York Giants took the field in Miami to play the Dolphins on Monday Night Football knowing that they had to win to keep up with the Redskins and Eagles in the race for the division title. Odell Beckham Jr. was once again the hero catching an 84-yard touchdown pass that put the Giants in the lead with 11 minutes remaining in the game. Beckham also caught a 45-yard pass that set up another touchdown throw to Will Tye and grabbed a pass to convert a third down play at midfield that sealed the win with two minutes left.
The Dolphins seemed to be their own worst enemy. They committed 12 penalties, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill overthrew an open Jarvis Landry behind the Giants’ secondary with less than five minutes remaining. In addition, despite the fact that Dolphins’ running back Lamar Miller rushed for 89 yards including a 38-yard touchdown, the Dolphins gave up on the run and Miller finished with only 12 carries.
Eli Manning finished with 27 completions on 31 tries for 337 yards and four touchdowns. He earned a passer rating of 151.5, which was his highest since 2009. He also completed 87 percent of his passes, which was another career high. Leading rusher for the Giants was Rashad Jennings with 81 yards on 22 carries. Beckham caught seven passes for 166-yards and two touchdowns, Rueben Randle caught five passes for 58 yards and a score, Will Tye caught five passes for 30 yards and a score, and Dwayne Harris caught five passes for 41 yards.
Tannehill completed 25 passes on 41 attempts for 236 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked once. Leading receiver for the Dolphins was Jarvis Landry, who caught 11 passes for 99 yards. Kenny Stills caught two passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. GIANTS 31 DOLPHINS 24
The Green Bay Packers relied on the legs of Eddie Lacy and beat the Dallas Cowboys. Lacy rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown and running mate James Starks contributed two touchdowns. The Packers finished with 230 rushing yards on 44 carries.
The Packers were not playing one of the better defenses in the National Football League. They were able to collect 435 yards and 29 first downs and the defense helped with some big plays.
Cowboys’ running back Darren McFadden also did well as he rushed for 111 yards on nine carries. But it was back-up running back Robert Turbin who scored the Boys only touchdown on a 7-yard run in the middle of the third quarter making the score at the time 14-7.
Matt Cassel started for the sixth time for injured QB Tony Romo and as in previous games the passing game struggled. Dez Bryant caught only one pass for nine yards. He appeared to have caught a big play reception in the second quarter, but it was reversed on replay. It was shades of déjà vu when replay reversed what looked like a Bryant catch during last season’s NFC divisional playoff game when the Packers beat the Cowboys. Bryant was also targeted on another play when the pass bounced off his hands into the grasp of Packers’ cornerback Sam Shields for an interception in the first quarter.
Cassel finished with 13 completions on 29 attempts for 114 yards.
Meanwhile, Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 218 yards and two touchdowns. Richard Rodgers caught a three-yard touchdown pass making the score 14-0 at 2:40 left in the second quarter. Starks caught the other. PACKERS 28 COWBOYS 7
NFC EAST STANDINGS Overall Division Conference
WASHINGTON REDSKINS 6-7 2-2 6-4
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 6-7 2-2 3-6
NEW YORK GIANTS 6-7 2-3 4-5
DALLAS COWBOYS 4-9 3-2 3-8
NFC EAST SCHEDULE
JETS @ COWBOYS SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2015
PANTHERS @ GIANTS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2015
BILLS @ REDSKINS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2015
CARDINALS @ EAGLES SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2015
Courtesy of Yahoo