Each week, we'll take a look at how the Eagles' division rivals fared the previous weekend (spoiler alert: you can still pre-order your NFC East Champions hats by clicking HERE) and what they have upcoming. While the Birds took a shot across the bow Sunday night, Dallas kept the division title in question for one more week by smacking down Washington last Thursday. Oh, and the Giants fired everybody.
But lets not bury the lede here; if the Eagles defeat the Philly-West Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, or if the Cowboys fall to the new-look GMen, then your Birds will have officially clinched the division and guaranteed their first home playoff game since the 2013 season. And considering we're still in the early parts of December, THAT'S SOME REALLY IMPRESSIVE STUFF! Even the Patriots haven't clinched their division yet, and they're closest rival is quarterbacked by Jay Cutler. It's still okay to be impressed by these Birds.
Here's what happened, and what's happening, this week in the NFC East:
New York Giants (2-10)
What Happened: The Geno Smith Era came and went for the Giants Sunday, as New York lost their 10th game, this one to the shorthanded Oakland Raiders 24-17. Smith, who was starting in place of some guy named Eli Manning for absolutely no real justifiable reason, fumbled twice in the first half, one of which was in the Raiders redzone. The Giants D, meanwhile, allowed Marshawn Lynch to have his first 100-yard rushing game since before he retired, most of which came on a 51-yard touchdown. All in all, it was more of the same for the 2017 Giants, who have been about as inspiring as Sean Spicer trying to sell you on a timeshare in Aleppo. After the game, head coach Ben McAdoo was quoted as saying "I'm going to coach this team as long as my key card works." He was promptly fired on Monday, along with General Manager Jerry Reese, and less than 24-hours later it leaked that Eli would be back in his starting role come Sunday. In just a dozen weeks, the Giants went from SUPER BOWL CONTENDERS to cleaning house. Sure seems like a well-run operation the Mara family has going, doesn't it?
The rapid demise of the New York Giants has been one of the most fascinating NFC East dumpster fires to watch burn in recent memory. This is a level of dysfunction usually reserved for Washington, Cleveland, and perhaps Oakland towards the end of Al Davis. Even Jets fans can stick out their chests at this point. The Silverdome Implosion had less hitches. At 2-10, the Giants are going through their worst start since 1976 which, coincidentally, is the last time they fired a coach midseason. So here's your friendly reminder that just 10 months ago, Brandon Marshall called joining this franchise the "the best opportunity to be in a championship organization." He's also recommending you invest in The Weinstein Company.
Positive Spin: In the words of Magic Johnson, happy days are here again. The axing of both McAdoo and Reese likely comes as a huge relief for fans of this putrid franchise who wanted change and wanted it quickly. The team now gets a clean slate heading into 2018 and, thanks to a Niners victory, could even have the #2 draft pick after the season.
Negative Spin: Be careful what you wish for. McAdoo clearly failed, but now this team is back to square one; they have no general manager, no head coach, and have alienated their only legitimate quarterback. While the changing-of-the-guard may increase the chances Eli is back come 2018, should he be? And whoever inherits this Big Apple Circus is going to have to deal with an aging-and-overpaid defense, a phenom wide receiver coming off a major injury, and an offensive line with a level of toughness comparable to rice noodles. Oh, and the guy picking the new GM? That'll be 76-year-old Ernie Accorsi, the former Giants head who definitely-doesn't-use-hair-dye and was responsible for picking the disgraced Reese in the first place. Good luck with that one, Giants fans. Even Howie Roseman thinks the owner needs to branch outside his comfort zone on this one. Who would have thought that John Mara, who inherited his football team from his father, would surround himself with a bunch of yes-men? Color me shocked.
What's Next: The Giants get to play host to the Cowboys on Sunday, so here's hoping Eli performs the way Donovan did on Thanksgiving after Andy Reid benched him.
What Happened: THE ALFRED MORRIS REVENGE GAME! In Dallas with their playoff hopes on life support, Washington fell flat to their hated rivals by a demoralizing score of 38-14. The game was a total (insert fart noise here) for Washington, more so for wideout Jamison Crowder, who let a pass slip through his fingers (that was later intercepted) and then promptly fumbled a punt (which was recovered by the Cowboys). The franchise-tagged Kirk Cousins didn't fare much better, accounting for a hat tricks worth of turnovers (two picks and a fumble). Dan Snyder's club has now lost four straight to the Cowboys, which, even as someone who hates Snyder's guts, is a hard thing to stomach.
Adding to the demoralization was the season-high 127-yards for Cowboy backup Alfred Morris, who was a part of the 2012 Washington Draft that brought in Robert Griffin III AND Kirk Cousins. You'll be forgiven if you forgot the tandem of "Bob & Al" was suppose to usher in an Era of Numerous Super Bowl Victories for Dan Snyder and Co, though I'm sure a few Washingtonian's had flashbacks when Morris essentially clinched this one with a touchdown deep in the 4th quarter. Washington, meanwhile, started 4th-round rookie Samaje Perine at running back this week, essentially the fifth guy they've had in that role this year since training camp.
Positive Spin: I got nothing for you here. Washington needs to run the table and pray that about a half-dozen NFC teams collapse to have any shot of getting to the postseason. That's about as likely as Dan Snyder being elected ‘Maryland's Most Popular Man." I guess fans of Jay Gruden can be happy his team has played well enough to keep his job (presumably). At the very least, they've got that going over the Giants.
Negative Spin: For the second consecutive season, they appear to be taking a step backwards, and yet they will likely enter the offseason with some of the same major questions they had while exiting the last one. Mainly, what does this team do about Kirk Cousins? Unless Snyder grows a pair and signs Colin Kaepernick (ha!), there probably aren't many better options out there for a team that's currently 5-7 and not destined for a super-high draft pick.
Making it all worse, what was essentially the final blow -- losing on Thursday -- came against their most hated rivals who found themselves in the exact same position. It's like your boss made you watch as he gave the other guy your promotion. It be cruel, if it wasn't so hilarious.
This Washington season has been a lot like a GEICO commercial: some good bits for sure, but overall pretty uninspiring, slightly strange, and damn repetitive overall. And like a GEICO commercial, they'll be obvious joy from the audience once it's mercifully over.
What's Next: Washington tries to keep their slim playoff hopes alive against the Chargers, who are suddenly fighting for a division title. With the Cardinals, Broncos, & Giants on the dockett to finish out the schedule, the chances of a late-season collapse that costs Jay Gruden his job seems unlikely.
Dallas Cowboys (6-6)
What Happened: Yeah yeah yeah, the Cowboys won and looked good doing it. Whoop-de-freakin-do. Lets all get super excited because Dak Prescott, who some idiot Cowboy fans already wanted to bench for the crime of playing worse without Ezekiel Elliott or Tyron Smith (imagine that), had his best game of the season. They beat Washington at home. It's not like they found a cure for lupus.
Dez Bryant, meanwhile, is now the Cowboys leader in touchdown receptions with 71, which is really kind of fascinating. He's the best wide receiver in Cowboys history? THE BEST!? He's like a Reuben sandwich at the diner; I know it's good, but if you're telling me this is the BEST, that says something about the overall quality of the place, doesn't it?
In other news, Jerry Jones is still trying to sabotage the Roger Goodell extension, which is like watching Darth Maul get into an argument with Voldemort. The 31-year-old Sean Lee is practicing this week, which means their defense may actually be competent come Sunday. And Zeke's suspension is officially ⅔'s of the way complete, meaning they'll get him back at the exact time they'll be eliminated from the playoffs.
Anyway, the Cowboys got back to .500 with the win, getting themselves off the canvas, keeping the Iggles divisional champs merchandise off the shelf for at least a few more days.
Positive Spin: What a bunch of fighters! By clobbering the desperate Washington Football Team and clawing their way back to .500, Jason Garrett proved he's a true inspirer of men as he leads his crew onwards and upwards into the seasons final stretch!
More importantly, Prescott looked like a serviceable NFL quarterback, and that's the first time he's done that without an all-pro running back and all-pro left tackle on the field with him. Well, the left tackle was back, but let's give Dak props where props are due. The former fourth rounder looked solid on Thursday and definitely put the Bobby Hoying comparisons away for good. For sure.
Negative Spin: Obviously all of those things are nonsense. Garrett has never had back-to-back winning seasons as a full time head coach, Prescott still has a lot to prove, and this team is almost certainly not going to make it into the playoffs. In fact, the Eagles losing on Sunday actually hurt their playoff chances, as Dallas is now two games behind the Seahawks (and the Panthers) for a Wild Card spot. Hey, maybe Doug lost the game on purpose to screw over the Cowboys! Now, that's some three-dimensional chess stuff right there.
Seriously though, the Falcons, Lions, and Packers are all ahead of the Cowboys in the playoff race, which means at the end of the day, Dallas' chances of making the postseason are about as likely as Sarah Huckabee Sanders getting to replace Alex Trebek on JEOPARDY! Anything can happen and blahblahblah, especially with ‘dem Boys getting a little healthier, but the odd are stacked pretty heavily against them.
What's Next: The Cowboys go up against the Steve Spagnuolo-led Giants on Sunday, and that's gonna be the only freebie they get the rest of the way. Their next three opponents are all currently fighting for playoff spots, culminating in a New Years Eve battle in South Philly for a game the Eagles ideally won't need at all.