NFC East Breakdown: Week 14


(Dan T. writes for The Landry Hat, which is FSB‘s Dallas Cowboys blog. Representing the rest of the NFC East are G-Men HQ, Inside the Iggles. and Riggo’s Rag.)

Dallas Cowboys fans are fearing another slump in December as the team is walking a tightrope to the playoffs. A devastating loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers could crush this team’s playoff hopes because the schedule actually gets harder from here on out. But owner Jerry Jones’ mouth may have done more damage. The Cowboys are now 10-17 in December since 2003, an embarrassing mark for a squad called America’s Team. The Philadelphia Eagles are turning it around at the opportune time and have jumped right back in the playoff picture with a demolishing of the New York Giants. When Brian Westbrook plays well, the Eagles are tough to beat. The Washington Redskins went from a top-five team to a boring, inefficient average team in the matter of two weeks. Watching this team’s offense is like watching paint dry.

Dallas Cowboys (8-5):

Looking Back: Close doesn’t cut it in sports. The Dallas Cowboys outplayed the Pittsburgh Steelers for about 52 minutes and then it all unraveled. Tony Romo had a poor game, throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble. He had a chance to win the game when it was tied 13-13 with two minutes left, but he threw an interception that was returned for a game-winning touchdown. The good news is the Cowboys defense looks better each week. They played lights out against the Steelers. Also, rookie running back Tashard Choice rushed for more yards than Pittsburgh has allowed all year. He was still held to 88 yards, but he had five catches for 78 more yards, including a 50-yard dash down the sidelines. The Cowboys appeared to be the better team for most of the game and the mistakes got the best of them. At the end of the game, Romo and tight end Jason Witten couldn’t decide whose fault it was that they lost. Witten said the interception that lost the game was his fault because he slipped on his route and wasn’t in the right place. Romo said the loss was his fault because he had four turnovers. I am going to agree with the $60 million man. According to Terrell Owens, he was wide open on that play.

Looking Forward: It doesn’t get any easier for the Cowboys, who host the New York Giants. Although the Giants have lost Plaxico Burress for the season, and they looked terrible against the Philadelphia Eagles, they are still the best team in the NFL. The Cowboys have to win this game, not only to keep pace for the final wildcard spot, but to regain confidence that was blown away after the stunning Steelers comeback. A win will largely depend on health and playing without mistakes. Is Marion Barber going to be able to play? Is DeMarcus Ware fine? Is the offensive line healthy? Can the Cowboys not turn the ball over and keep the errors to a minimum? Health and error-free football is the only way they can win down the stretch. Another thing to keep in mind is if any Cowboys players speak out about Jerry Jones’ comments about Marion Barber. Jones questioned Barber’s toughness and people aren’t happy about it.

New York Giants (11-2):

Looking Back:The Giants didn’t look like the Super Bowl champs this past weekend against the Eagles, but they’ve had a tough week. Their best wide receiver is facing prison time. In this game, they lost Aaron Ross with an ankle injury and Brandon Jacobs with a bum knee. The GIants defense uncharacteristically allowed the Eagles to go 12-18 on third downs, an amazing feat for the Eagles. Surely that was an anomaly for the Giants, but who knows. The Giants won the defense and they are in the playoffs, but they don’t want to get there limping in.

Looking Forward: Could the Giants lose two games in a row? If it is going to happen, now is the time. Brandon Jacobs might have a problem healing his knee in time and the Giants don’t seem as threatening without Plaxico Burress. Would Burress drop that 65-yard touchdown pass like Domenik Hixon did? Don’t think so. The Giants will be in Texas Stadium for the final game in that stadium. Dallas fans will be emotional and loud. The Cowboys won’t have a tough time having emotion for this one, but the Giants know how to beat this team. They also know it’s December when a lot of teams think they can pick on the Cowboys.

Philadelphia Eagles (7-5-1):

Looking Back: Brian Westbrook had a stellar game for the second week in a row and he lifted his team to a huge upset win over the New York Giants. Maybe Donovan McNabb should just throw only when he absolutely has to, and give the ball to Westbrook whenever he can. Probably not feasible. But the Eagles are heating up at the right time, and they could be a force down the stretch.

Looking Forward: The Eagles play the Cleveland Browns and they have to win to remain in the hunt for a playoff spot. The Browns are in shambles and the Eagles should be able to prey on the poor defense the Browns put out here. But of course they do not want to overlook these guys, especially when a coach’s job is on the line like Romeo Crennel’s is. It could be a very interesting final game if the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are vying for that final wildcard spot.

Washington Redskins (7-5):

Looking Back: I think if the Baltimore Ravens just put Ed Reed out there on the field, the Redskins would have lost. Who knows what is happening, but the offense is just woefully inefficient out there. Soon, Redskins fans are going to be questioning Jason Campbell, their golden boy quarterback, and demanding freshman head coach Jim Zorn’s head. Clinton Portis isn’t even hitting the holes. It’s just not the same team and neither the defense or offense is giving this team a chance to win ball games. The Ravens made it look easy.

Looking Forward: The Redskins had to win that game to give themselves a huge boost in the playoff race. They face the Cincinnati Bengals next in a game that could help turn around their December. The Redskins should beat the Bengals quite easily, but this is why the NFL plays football games. If Zorn’s boys lose this one the guy might have a stroke on the sidelines. He’s been losing his temper quite a bit lately.

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Saturday, Aug 2323 Aug7:00at Miami DolphinsBuy Tickets

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