Once known as the toughest division in the National Football League, the Eastern Division of the NFC is currently a mess. Although the Cowboys lead in the standings, quarterback Tony Romo will be out for some time due to a broken collarbone. They also have to play without their top receiver Dez Bryant.
So Branden Weeden was at the helm for the 2-0 Cowboys when they battled the Atlanta Falcons, another 2-0 team, when contests began on Sunday, September 27. The Cowboys seem to control the first half of the game. However, Weeden gave up a pick in the second quarter and the Cowboys’ defense couldn’t cover Julio Jones, who scored two touchdowns and caught 12 passes for a total of . Meanwhile, Devanta Freeman filled in for the Falcon starter at running back and ran for on 30 carries and scored three touchdowns. Falcons 39 Cowboys 28.
The question is, which team is capable of putting enough together to challenge the Cowboys for the division?
Redskins fans thought it was their team after the impressive victory against the St. Louis Rams in game two of the season. And, although they lost game one to the Miami Dolphins, the Redskins showed enough to impress not only their fans, but also some other enthusiastic NFL fans. In both games they proved that they had a running game with Alfred Morris and rookie Matt Jones and quarterback Kirk Cousins did an okay job taking care of the ball –- no interceptions in game two. And the defensive front seven got some pressure on both Miami QB Ryan Tannehill and Rams QB Nick Foles.
However, the ‘Skins got a dose of reality on Thursday night against division rival New York Giants. Things went bad from the start with a blocked punt after a three and out series. The ball bounced through the end zone for a safety and a quick 2-0 lead for the G-Men. Cousins, who has been plagued with throwing so many interceptions that Redskins fans consider him the second coming of Rex Grossman, did it again. One pick took place early in the first quarter deep in Redskins territory and resulted in a quick 7 for the Giants. The Redskins running game duo of Morris and Jones were stopped cold and Jones contributed with a fumble just before crossing the goal line for what would have been an important score. The only decent thing to happen for the Redskins the whole night was a Rashad Ross kick-off return for a touchdown. But it was too little, too late. Giants 32 Redskins 21.
So do the Giants win mean that they will challenge the Cowboys for the Division? The jury is still out after blown leads in the first two games of the season resulted in a 0-2 record prior to the contest with the Redskins. As mentioned, the Giants have set a tendency for blowing games in the fourth quarter. Although they did not do so against the Skins, the Redskins did score most of their points in the second half and, after all was said and done, Cousins threw for more than although most of those yards came during garbage time after it was obvious that the Giants would be the winners.
One bit of good news for the Giants. Their star wide receiver Victor Cruz is expected to play next Sunday (October 4) and that should help their best receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
So, by process of elimination, it should be the Philadelphia Eagles who will challenge the Cowboys for the top spot in the East, right? Well, not necessarily.
The Eagles are a basket case despite their win over the Jets. Eagles fans, which have a well-earned reputation of not being patient, have already called for head coach Chip Kelly’s head. His actions in the last two seasons have been somewhat questionable at best. First, he simply let DeSean Jackson go in 2014 and he signed with division rival Redskins and he traded LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for linebacker Kiko Alonso and quarterback Nick Foles to the St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford, who was on the injured reserve list for most of 2014. Kelly also cut starting offensive guard Evan Mathis, who was first team all pro in 2014.
So no one was surprised when the Eagles lost their first two games. However, if Kelley didn’t want to be booed out of Veterans Stadium, then the Eagles had to win their match up with the New York Jets. They did. However, the Jets helped with four turnovers.
Yes, Darren Sproles returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown, Bradford threw a TD pass to Ryan Mathews, and Mathews rushed for 108 yards on 25 carries as he replaced injured starter DeMarco Murray.
Still, the Jets could have won the game. They shutout the Eagles in the second half and although QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw one of three picks with 3:28 remaining in the game, the Jets were still able to muster up a 53-yard field goal with 2:34 remaining. However, the onside kick failed and the Eagles ran out the clock. Eagles 24 Jets 17.
NFC EAST STANDINGS
DALLAS COWBOYS 2-1
NEW YORK GIANTS 1-2
WASHINGTON REDSKINS 1-2
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 1-2
GAMES TO BE PLAYED IN WEEK 4
REDSKINS @ FALCONS, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2015
PATRIOTS @ COWBOYS, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2015
49ERS @ GIANTS, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2015
SAINTS @ EAGLES, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2015