We're still in the first half of the 2021 regular season but the Cowboys already have a big cushion in the NFC East. With their surprising win last night, plus another loss by Washington, Dallas now has a 3.5-game lead or better over each division rival.
Starting Cooper Rush due to lingering concerns over Dak Prescott's calf injury, the Cowboys clearly already felt good about their chances in the NFC East and perhaps beyond. They risked resting Dak and still managed to pull off a road win in Minnesota, taking their win streak to six games.
The Eagles got a gift in facing the winless Lions but went above and beyond with a 44-6 blowout victory. Especially impressive as the road team, Philadelphia didn't need much from Jalen Hurts' passing as they ran for over 230 yards and shut Detroit down offensively.
Washington continued their skid, four losses in a row now, with an ugly collapse in Denver. Despite outgaining the Broncos in yards they only managed 10 points thanks to turnovers and special teams issues.
Last night, the Giants nearly took advantage of Kansas City's stunning struggles in 2021 but couldn't finish the job. Tied 17-17 late in the 4th Quarter, New York gave up a field goal and then butchered their final possession to seal the loss.
NFC East Standings
(Division Record in parentheses)
- Dallas Cowboys 6-1 (2-0)
- Philadelphia Eagles 3-5 (0-1)
- Washington Football Team 2-6 (1-0)
- New York Giants 2-6 (0-2)
With head-to-head wins over Philadelphia and New York, Dallas is now up 3.5 games on the Eagles and Football Team and 4.5 on the Giants. And given their upcoming schedule, the Cowboys may only see that cushion get softer over the next few weeks.
Dallas next has two-straight home games against the Broncos and Falcons, two of the lesser teams they've faced all year. All signs point to Dak Prescott returning for these and perhaps WR Michael Gallup joining him.
Week 9 has both the Eagles and Giants at home against superior teams from the AFC. Philadelphia will host the Raiders while New York gets the Chargers; both winning teams who should be favored in these matchups.
Washington will be off for their bye week. The next time the Football Team plays, could Ryan Fitzpatrick be back under center? But a bigger question, honestly, has Taylor Heinicke really been the problem?
Regardless of what their rivals do, the Cowboys just have to keep handling their business as they've done since Week 2. This division may be wrapped up by the end of November at the current rate, potentially giving Dallas some incredible luxury to use the final part of the season to prepare for the tournament.