FSB’s Dallas Cowboys blog. Representing the rest of the NFC E..."/> FSB’s Dallas Cowboys blog. Representing the rest of the NFC E..."/>

NFC East Breakdown: Week Three


(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.)

The NFC East is once again the dominant division in the NFL. All four teams are playing playoff-caliber football. Two of the teams–the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants–remain undefeated heading into week 4. In Week 3, we saw all of the teams in the division win. In this week’s matchups, we have two teams facing off in a divisional rivalry, the Eagles facing the Bears and the Giants with the week off after barely beating the Bengals. The biggest question is will Brian Westbrook be OK for week 4?

Dallas Cowboys (3-0):

Looking Back: The Cowboys, who have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL, won another game over a playoff-caliber team, defeating the Green Bay Packers in the uncharacteristically fair weather Lambeau Field. Tony Romo ran an anemic first half passing offense, and it didn’t matter. Marion Barber (28 carries, 142 yards) and Felix Jones were stars in this game. Felix Jones is amazing, eh? Jerry Jones sure is looking like a genius for passing over Rashard Mendenhall to grab Felix The Cat in the first round. The Cowboys won in Lambeau Field for the first time ever. Could that be a sign of what’s to come this season? Possibly. Tony Romo showed his level of inconsistency, and still played a decent game. The Cowboys rushed for more than 200 yards, annihilating the Packers’ run defense. They also found a guy named Miles Austin can be a deep threat, too. How about them Cowboys?

Looking Forward: Bring on the Washington Redskins. The Cowboys have vengeance on their minds after the embarrassing blowout loss to the Redskins to end the regular season last year. The Skins have a new coach Jim Zorn, who is surely dreaming, eating and sleeping Cowboys Xs and Os. He’ll need to do more than that. The Packers put a lot of pressure on Tony Romo and even that didn’t stop this team from rolling over the Pack. The Cowboys won’t overlook this divisional rival. If the Cowboys run the ball anywhere close to how they did in Green Bay, the Redskins might as well throw in the white flag and give up.

New York Giants (3-0):

Looking Back: A Carson Palmer-T.J. Houshmandzadeh revival was not enough to defeat the Giants, who squeaked out an overtime win against the lowly Bengals. John Carney booted a 22-yard field goal that sealed the Giants come-from-behind win. The Bengals played a spirited game, and the Giants appeared stale for three quarters. There were six lead changes and neither team was able to take command. Amani Toomer’s acrobatic catch in overtime kept a drive alive that eventually led to the game-winning field goal. The Giants defense had six sacks and a forced fumble. Who needs Michael Strahan?

Looking Forward: The Giants are off to their best start since 2000. At 3-0, the team hasn’t lost a step with the retirement of Michael Strahan and the season-ending injury to Osi Umenyiora. A key difference in the play this year compared to last year is the error-free football from quarterback Eli Manning, who typically threw a costly interception once or twice a game. The Giants have a bye week this week. Is Eli Manning destined to crack soon? Doubtful. He’s running a tight ship and the Giants gain a lot of respect when they win the close games, no matter who they play.

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1):

Looking Back: In a hard-fought win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, it wasn’t the Eagles offense that shined. The Eagles defense hunkered down after giving up 41 points to the Cowboys the week before and had eight sacks, holding the Steelers to just six points. The Eagles special teams improved, or at least Philadelphia punter Sav Rocca did. Who you say? I know, Sav Rocca! He held the Steelers deep in their own territory throughout the fourth quarter, including a booming 64-yard punt. Both quarterbacks took a pounding and both had to leave the game. Donovan McNabb wasn’t nearly as effective as he was in the first two games, but he did not need to be. Why the Steelers decided to go for it on 4th down when they needed two scores with less than a minute is beyond me. A field goal and onside kick seemed to be a lot more sensible choice. Westbrook injured his ankle and didn’t play the second half.

Looking Forward: The Eagles face the Chicago Bears whose defense was held sackless against the Tampa Bay Bucs last week. Both teams have exciting rookies. For the Eagles, there’s DeSean Jackson. For the Bears, there’s Matt Forte. If Donovan McNabb has the time, he’s a threat to whom the Bears will succumb. The Eagles have some work to do on what’s an old secret to success in the NFL: consistency. You go from scoring 37 points in one game to 15 points and that’s something Andy Reid and his staff will examine because it’s not like they were playing a stronger defense. The Eagles saw how hard it is to win when Brian Westbrook is a non factor, which he was against the Steelers. Westbrook has to show up if the Eagles want to soar to victory, but his injured ankle may keep him out of this game.

Washington Redskins (2-1):

Looking Back: The Redskins had their second close win in a row, this time defeating the Arizona Cardinals. Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell had a stellar game, going 22-30 for 193 yards and two touchdowns. A key stat in the Redskins’ win is the big ZERO in the turnover category. Chris Cooley played well, with seven catches for 71 yards, including a 26-yard catch with two minutes left in the game that helped seal the win. Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner never found his rhythm and an early fourth quarter tipped-passed-turned-interception sealed the team’s fate.

Looking Forward: The Redskins head to Texas Stadium to play the undefeated Cowboys. The last time these two teams played was the last game of the 2007 season, and the Redskins ended the Cowboys’ season on a sour note. The Cowboys come with a defense the Redskins haven’t quite faced yet in the three games they’ve played. DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis are sure to cause havoc for Jason Campbell, who is starting to improve on his redzone woes. The Redskins are 2-1 and have had two fourth-quarter wins. The keys to the Redskins winning this game will be having some success running the ball. Clinton Portis has played very well against the Cowboys, and the Redskins will need him to flourish in this game. For the Cowboys to win, the defense must apply pressure to Campbell. Campbell will be prone to errors if he is forced to pass the ball sooner than he would like to.