With a win over Washington on Thanksgiving Day, Dallas took the lead in the NFC East Division, one that no one seems to want to win. The Redskins were on track to take command of the division but lost two straight and suffered a huge blow by losing QB Alex Smith to a season-ending – and possibly career-ending – injury. Will anyone step up and take control?
Defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia, now 5-6, stayed alive in the postseason race with a 25-22 win over the New York Giants last Sunday. The Eagles face a difficult road ahead as they must play Washington twice, the Cowboys, the 10-1 Los Angeles Rams, and the AFC South leader Houston before the season is over. The Eagles have to do it with a running game that averages just barely over 100 yards per game. Philadelphia’s leading rusher is Josh Adams with 291 yards…for the season!
Division wins could be key as they serve as one of the playoff tiebreakers. The Eagles are 2-1 in the division thus far with three games to play. Conference record also plays a role in tiebreakers. Philadelphia is just 3-5 in the NFC this year.
The biggest question for Washington is, of course, quarterback play. With Smith done for the year, Colt McCoy takes over as the starter. Can he and the Redskins offense do enough to allow Washington to remain in playoff contention?
That seems iffy at best. The Redskins were very good on offense with Smith and haven’t been much better in a game and a half with McCoy. Washington scores just 20.0 points per game. Head coach Jay Gruden needs RB Adrian Peterson to step up and take control of the offense. That would take some of the pressure off of McCoy.
With three consecutive wins, the Cowboys thrust themselves right back into playoff contention. They face New Orleans at home in Week 13, but the rest of the schedule is playoff friendly. Dallas takes on Philadelphia and Tampa Bay at home and Indianapolis and the Giants on the road. Dallas is 4-1 at home, 3-1 in the division, and 5-3 in conference play. There is no reason why the Cowboys cannot go 4-1 down the stretch and win the division.
The nightmare occurs if Dallas, Washington, and Philadelphia all hover around .500 as they are now. The Vikings, Panthers, and Seahawks are all playoff-worthy and hovering around .500 as well. Minnesota and Washington currently hold the NFC wild cards, but will an NFC East team hold on to a wild card at season’s end?