For the first time this season the top of the NFC East mountain is occupied by someone other than the Dallas Cowboys.
While the Cowboys have been busy losing three straight games, the New York Football Giants have been on a three game streak of their own... churning out a hat trick of victories.
Here's your weekly breakdown of the NFC East and where each team stands.
New York Giants (3-2 Overall, 1-1 Against NFC East)
A New York Giant made a huge catch on Sunday Night Football and it didn't spark a revolution of hype around him.
Pretty crazy, right?
Larry Donnell hauled in a touchdown from Eli Manning in the waning seconds of the Sunday Night contest, giving the Giants sole possession of first place in the NFC East. This victory is the third in a row for the Giants as they have now rolled past the Redskins, Bills, and 49ers.
The Giants are gaining steam at a very convenient time. Their star receiver Victor Cruz is nearing a return and their next four games are at Philadelphia, home against Dallas, at New Orleans, and at Tampa Bay. If they're able to come away from those first two with one victory, and potentially two, they are in prime position as neither the Saints nor Buccaneers present that great of a challenge.
It's still early in the 2015 season, but as a Cowboys fan I am worried about the Giants. Should they beat Philadelphia they will be 5-2, and 2-1 within the division, when we head up there. It would be scary to fall to 2-5 while they jump to 6-2. It is not a hyperbole to say that October 25th could very well decide the fate of the 2015 Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas Cowboys (2-3 Overall, 2-0 Against NFC East)
You are well aware by now about the 30-6 thrashing that the New England Patriots gave the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday; however, losing to them was not a shocker.
Very few people realistically expected the Cowboys to walk away victoriously last Sunday, the pain right now is still concentrated on watching CJ Spiller dash his way into the endzone back in New Orleans.
That was a game that the Cowboys HAD to have. They would be 3-2 right now and feel a lot better about their spot in the division given the recent success of the G-Men.
The Cowboys are now looking up at the Giants and can only sit by as we watch the Giants and Eagles square off next week on Monday Night Football. The state of the Cowboys now rests on the right arm of a new starting quarterback, Matt Cassel, who can hopefully reinvigorate this team and get them back on track.
Washington Redskins (2-3 Overall, 1-1 Against NFC East)
The Atlanta Falcons are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now. They are 5-0, but they were taken to overtime by the Washington Redskins.
All four of the NFC East teams have played Atlanta very tough this season (and Atlanta has vanquished them all, a perfect 4-0 against the division), but Washington took them to extra minutes.
The Redskins defense has really come to play this season as they have managed to lock down the Eagles and Julio Jones (for the most part) in back-to-back weeks. Bill Callahan has obviously had a great influence on their offensive line and perhaps their team as a whole.
Washington has a date with the New York Jets this week, which will surely be a tough test for quarterback Kirk Cousins. They've been a lot friskier this year than I think most people anticipated, and they've managed to play well enough that all of their misfires (e.g. Robert Griffin III) are an afterthought. It's a pretty crazy world when the Redskins aren't the most dysfunctional team in the NFL. Feels weird.
Philadelphia Eagles (2-3 Overall, 0-2 Against NFC East)
The Philadelphia Eagles offense finally showed up... a little. Even in a winning effort against the New Orleans Saints, Sam Bradford managed to inject doubt into the minds of Eagles fans (assuming they have brains) that he is a legitimate NFL quarterback.
Philly's offensive potency can really be summed up to how porous the New Orleans Saints defense is... a tough pill to swallow for Cowboys fans as Dallas was unable to exploit that. This was a good game for the Eagles as it might have given them a sense of confidence that they are not a 3A high school team and that maybe they can sustain success through the magical smoothie recipe of Chip Kelly.
We'll find out next Monday Night against the New York Giants.
Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019
It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.
After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.
But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."
The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.
Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).
The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.
This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.
These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.
Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.
Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations
Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.
The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.
And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.
“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.
Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.
"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com.
Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.
Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.
Can Rookie OL Connor McGovern Compete For A Starting Spot?
Raising eyebrows in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cowboys added Penn State offensive lineman Connor McGovern to their already deep OL depth chart.
McGovern, who played guard for the Nittany Lions, was reportedly by-far the best player remaining on the Cowboys draft board when they came on the clock in round three. Still, with seemingly more pressing needs yet to be addressed, Dallas' selection of McGovern was certainly a surprise.
When you watch the tape, though, you immediately see what the Cowboys loved about Connor McGovern.
A "plug-and-play" type guard, Connor McGovern is the type of rookie you'd expect to contribute in year one. On many teams he may be a candidate to start at guard or center from the beginning of his rookie season, but here in Dallas, his role for the 2019 season is somewhat in question.
Clearly, being a day two pick, there's no doubt that McGovern will make the Cowboys roster. But can he compete for a starting job?
During OTA's McGovern took reps at both guard and center, pointing towards the possibility of him being the first interior offensive lineman off the bench if one of the starters were to go down with an injury. Fellow interior linemen Joe Looney and Xavier Su'a-Filo each contributed in big ways during the 2018 season, however, and will be tough to beat out during camp.
While possible, I would still say it's unlikely. The Cowboys selection of McGovern seems to be more about 2020 and beyond than it is about the 2019 season. With right tackle La'el Collins coming up on a contract year, Dallas might elect to let him walk in free agency, move Williams back to his college position of tackle, and slide McGovern into the left guard slot.
This seems fool-proof in theory, but this many moving parts across the offensive line could spell trouble early on in 2020. Regardless, Connor McGovern's arrival gives Dallas the flexibility to consider all options on their offensive line.
In reality, McGovern strengthened a strength for Dallas, and may be needed to prove himself as early as this Fall if injury issues arise.
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