N.F.C. East Still Up for Grabs for All Four Teams


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Eric Rowe celebrated an incomplete pass in the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ 35-28 victory over the Patriots on Sunday.

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Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Last week, we wrote that though it might seem difficult to believe, some team was going to win the N.F.C. East and make the playoffs.

Since then, the Giants blew another late lead and lost to the Jets, the Redskins and the Cowboys tried desperately to lose to each other and the Eagles somehow beat the Super Bowl champions.

Now three teams in the division are 5-7 and one is 4-8. And yes, it is still true. One of them is going to make the playoffs, perhaps with a losing record. Maybe even with a 6-10 record.

Which one will it be?

Eagles (5-7)

Chance to make playoffs (according to the Upshot Playoff Simulator): 36 percent.

Best game: Stunned the Patriots on Sunday, 35-28.

Worst game: Gave up 38 straight points in a 45-14 loss to the Lions.

Football-Reference Simple Rating System ranking: Tied for 21st.

Remaining games: Bills (6-6), Cardinals (10-2), Redskins (5-7), at Giants (5-7).

Tiebreakers: 0-1 vs. Redskins and Giants; Division: 2-2.

Beat the Patriots? It’s easy. All you need to do is return two punts for touchdowns and get a 99-yard interception return. Despite the bizarre win, few would count on the Eagles winning either of their next two games. The final two weeks, against the Redskins and the Giants, will be vital; win both of those games, and the Eagles are almost certainly in.

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Redskins (5-7)

Playoffs: 29 percent

Best game: A 47-14 pasting of the Saints in which Kirk Cousins had a season-high 324 yards and four touchdown passes.

Worst game: A season-opening home loss to the Dolphins, 17-10, which appeared to herald a repeat of last year’s 4-12 season.

S.R.S. Ranking: 23rd.

Games: At Bears (5-7), Bills (6-6), at Eagles (5-7), at Cowboys (4-8).

Tiebreakers: 1-0 vs. Eagles, 0-1 vs. Cowboys. Division: 2-2.

It seemed like a favorable stretch run for the Redskins, but then they blew the easiest game of the bunch, at home against the Cowboys in a mistake-filled Monday nighter. The offense looked anemic, and DeSean Jackson fumbled a punt that gifted the Cowboys their only touchdown. Like the Eagles, the Redskins will be looking to sweep their divisional games in the last two weeks. That may be tricky, as they have not won consecutive games all year.

Giants (5-7)

Playoffs: 28 percent

Best game: A comprehensive 24-10 victory in Buffalo in Week 4 that seemed to establish them as the team to beat in the East.

Worst game: Amazingly for a season that most Giants fans would call a disaster, the team has lost only one game by more than 6 points, a 27-7 loss in Philadelphia.

S.R.S. Ranking: 16th.

Games: At Dolphins (5-7), Panthers (12-0), at Vikings (8-4), Eagles (5-7).

Tiebreakers: 0-1 vs. Eagles. Division record: 2-3.

The Panthers and the Vikings games are probably out of reach for the Giants, so a win against the Dolphins next week becomes huge. Even 2-2 might not be enough, though.

Cowboys (4-8)

Playoffs: 8 percent.

Best game: A 27-26, last-second win over the Giants in the opener seemed to set a tone for a good season. The next week, Tony Romo broke his collarbone.

Worst game: Romo returned in Week 11 and the Cowboys won their third game. The next week, in a loss to the Panthers, he broke his collarbone again.

S.R.S. Ranking: 25th.

Games: At Packers (8-4), Jets (7-5), at Bills (6-6), Redskins (5-7).

Tiebreakers: 1-0 vs. Redskins. Division: 3-2.

The most fitting ending of this misbegotten N.F.C. East season would be for the 4-8 Cowboys to steal the division. It is not impossible, even without Romo, partly because Dallas somehow has the best divisional record. Still, the Cowboys will probably have to go at least 3-1 to do it, which seems like a tall order.



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