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NFC East Breakdown: Week 4


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

Well, the NFC East got a lot more interesting this week, if that was at all possible. The biggest news of week 4 is the whooping the Washington Redskins laid on the once undefeated Dallas Cowboys. The New York Giants are now the only undefeated team in the division, and they had a bye week. Has Plaxico Burress solved the personal problem that kept him from informing his coaches he was missing practice, which resulted in a two-game suspension? Those who doubted Jason Campbell (me), can stop. He showed poise and patience in the win over the Cowboys. The Eagles lose another close game and are facing a major deflation if they don’t win against the Redskins this week. Donovan McNabb did not have a particularly special game, and he will need to this week.

Dallas Cowboys (3-1):

Looking Back: Gross. That’s the word that quickly came to mind to sum up the Dallas Cowboys playbook against the Redskins. It’s not like the Redskins dominated the Cowboys. The game was pretty even. What it came down to in the 2-point loss was coaching. Redskins first-year head coach Jim Zorn proved himself in week 4 after a demoralizing defeat to the Giants in week 1. Unfortunately, the Cowboys coaches proved nothing. Well, wait, they did prove that sometimes they can become playcallers using mild-altering substances. The first thing one has to ask is where was Felix Jones? The Cowboys did not utilize him at all. The second question is, who made the decision to give Marion Barber the ball just eight times? For some reason, the Cowboys decided running the ball was not going to be in the gameplan, even though it is the strongest part of their game plan. Completely dumb. Terence Newman, and his new $50 million contract, got burned for two touchdowns, and almost three. Tony Romo threw a critical interception, despite throwing three touchdowns and for 300 yards. Yet, still, the Cowboys had a chance in the 26-24 ball game to get the win if Sam Hurd had not dropped the onside kick that went directly into his stone hands. Although the Cowboys seemed to improve on the abundance of penalties in the first three weeks, with only two this week, ironically one of them allowed a late-game drive to continue for the Redskins, who eventually kicked a field goal to put the game out of reach. Finally, is Santana Moss really that good? I mean, come on! And Terrell Owens needs to shut his mouth. To complain to the media that he didn’t get the ball enough is blasphemy. He was thrown to 18 times, and caught 7 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys had about 60 plays, so a third of the play went to Owens, and he capitalized on only seven of those. Just ridiculous.

Looking Forward: Bring on the winless Bungals, I mean Bengals. No one wants to play a team that is 0-4 because you would think they eventually have to win at least one game. If the Cowboys lose this game, Jerry Jones is going to lose it. Wade Phillips could seriously feel the pressure of a pink slip. Now let’s be real here: The Cowboys should dominate this game, and win by at least three touchdowns. But no one is confident of anything right now. They have to come to play, and run the dang ball. It is ridiculous to give your premiere Pro Bowl back the ball only eight times. The Cowboys need to stop worrying about getting the ball to Terrell Owens and focus on winning. Owens will be happy if the Cowboys win. When they lose, and he doesn’t make plays, then he drags the entire team down. The Cowboys need to focus on the secondary. When your $50 million guy is getting demolished back there, you’ve got a problem. I guess the Cowboys are not invincible.

New York Giants (3-0):

Looking Back: The Giants had a bye week and they still had drama. Wide receiver Plaxico Burress missed practice without telling anyone. He was suspended for two games.

Looking Forward: The Giants face the Seahawks. I might be able to start for the Seahawks at wide receiver, which is a big reason why quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is having one of his worse starts in years. However, Julius Jones has had two big games for the Hawks. So, it makes perfect sense for the Giants to focus on stopping him. It is unlikely that Hasselbeck will rebound with the rejects he has for receivers. The Giants without Plaxico Burress don’t sound as scary on offense, but they are still better than the Seahawks offense. This might be a low scoring game, but should be a Giants win.

Philadelphia Eagles (2-2):

Looking Back: A fourth and goal stop by the Bears ended the Eagles chances of winning this game. They lost 24-20, and are now last in the NFC East. Andy Reid could have picked a better play than running the ball up the middle three times in a row, but that’s what he decided to do. Not a special game from the Eagles, who garnered so much attention in the first three weeks of the season. The Eagles defense wasn’t able to make a stop when it needed to. Donovan McNabb’s facial expressions showed a guy who doesn’t have much confidence in his team to win the close games.

Looking Forward: The Eagles play division rival Redskins in a game in a must win for the Eagles. Whoever wins takes a big step over the other in making the playoffs because they will have two divisional losses. This one is a toss up. It’s too early to know if Brian Westbrook will return and if he will be healthy enough to be a factor in the game. If he is in the game, he needs to get the ball more than eight times. The Eagles do have a defense that can change games. They have the most sacks of any NFL team. Will the Redskins fall apart after the big win at Texas Stadium? Can Donovan McNabb kickstart that offense?

Washington Redskins (3-1):

Looking Back: Other than Redskins fans, who picked this team to beat the Cowboys? No one. The coaches were well prepared for this matchup. The Redskins defense played very good football and they blanketed the wide receivers all game. Clinton Portis looked powerful. Santana Moss was unstoppable. Gee, the Redskins didn’t look anything like they did the first three weeks. Jason Campbell played a stellar game and he is starting to come into his own. He was 20-31, for 231 yards and two touchdowns with NO TURNOVERS.

Looking Forward: If the Redskins beat the Eagles then they takeover that third playoff spot likely to come out of the division and it puts the Eagles at a huge disadvantage. If the Redskins secondary plays in any way like it did against the Cowboys, the Eagles are in trouble. Jason Campbell is doing a good job leading this team. He has a few comebacks under his belt already this year, and his best game came against a team many are predicting to win the Super Bowl. If the Redskins beat the Eagles, they are in good position to make the playoffs if they have success against their divisional rivals in the second half of the season.