With Week Off, Focus is on NFC East Rivals
As the Eagles take the week to recover from injuries and rest up for Week 5 with their annual Bye Week, the team can also focus on their division rivals. Of course, worrying about their own franchise is something that all players and staff should be doing during this game-less period of time, but without any significant events occurring for the Birds on Sunday, there is plenty of time to spend evaluating and scouting the opposing teams in the NFC East division, especially since the Eagles play each division member twice during the season. You won’t find nearly as much detail as the coaches surely have on the rival clubs in this post, but I have provided some analysis of this week’s games involving our fellow division mates, as well as a brief “check-up” on the NFC East rivals.
Week 4 Games with Division Rivals:
- New York Giants vs. Kansas City Chiefs: If the Eagles can beat up on the Chiefs, then the Giants surely can. As much as we Philadelphia fans would love to see a major upset occur at Arrowhead Stadium, it is very unlikely the Chiefs will be able to defeat the G-Men as a favor to the Eagles. Kansas City’s offensive system is still in a mess, and the defensive schemes are not much better. For the Giants, things are about the opposite, as the team ranks highly in both categories. Sorry, folks, but it appears at least this rival team will come out of Week 4 victorious.
- Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos: Dallas has a typically solid defense that may be able to shut down the Broncos’ offensive gameplan, but it remains a big question how this intriguing matchup will turn out. As we all should know, former Eagles’ FS Brian Dawkins now resides in the Broncos’ secondary, and is probably anxious about getting a chance to dominate his former rivals. I wouldn’t count out the surprisingly undefeated Broncos in this contest, so don’t assume the Cowboys will have an easy time playing this Sunday.
- Washington Redskins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Despite the fact that the struggling Bucs will debut their young 2nd-year QB–Josh Johnson–this week as their new starting signal-caller, the Redskins have done little to ma it seem as if this will hardly be a challenge of a game. They’ve struggled all season on the defensive side of the ball, even with offseason addition Albert Haynesworth on the d-line, and might be in for yet another disappointing loss if Tampa Bay can play consistently.
NFC East Rival Evaluation (in order of season records)
- New York Giants (3-0): Attempting to repeat as the division’s champions, the Giants have been up and down throughout the year, but mostly on the positive side. Starting QB Eli Manning has worked well without former number 1 target WR Plaxico Burress, and his passing has complemented New York’s running game, which has been led by veterans Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. On defense, the secondary has struggled at times, but has managed to recover from mistakes and hold opposing teams to few scoring plays. If the team can continue to play consistently as a whole, another NFC East title is not out of the question…but before you throw in the towel and give up, know that New York is certainly beatable, and has quite a few weaknesses, which the Eagles proved last year with a remarkable playoff victory and the Cowboys proved this year by scoring 31 points on them.
- Dallas Cowboys (2-1): The absence of WR Terrell Owens hasn’t affected the Cowboys in a major way…yet. QB Tony Romo seems to have found confidence in his other receivers, such as Miles Austin and Roy Williams, as well as trusty TE Jason Witten. Despite their success in the passing game so far this season, Dallas’s once-heralded running attack is falling apart. Starter Marion Barber should play this week, but pain still remains in his knee, and explosive backup Felix Jones is also hurting with his own knee problems. On defense, the LB corps is again proving dominant, but the defensive line has played with inconsistency, and has allowed several RBs to have solid performances. The bottom line is that Dallas remains a hidden identity. There is a lot of potential and firepower within the organization, but they are often roughed around by aggressive opponents. With the proper application of defensive calls, a good offensive attack and a smart coaching strategy, basically any team can defeat the ‘Boys (well, maybe every team except the Rams…sorry St. Louis).
- Washington Redskins (1-2): Once again the Redskins find themselves in a disappointing situation. They finished the 2008 campaign with a forgetful 8-8 season that was arguably worse than the record indicates. Anyway, they haven’t looked much better this year, barely defeating the lowly Rams in Week 2 for their lone win, and losing to the Detroit Lions last week, who hadn’t recorded a victory in an astonishing 19 straight games. They have key players injured on both sides of the ball, including prized free agent addition DT Albert Haynesworth, veteran RB Clinton Portis, and powerful FB Mike Sellers. Unless they can begin a streak of wins and regain momentum, it seems the ‘Skins will be in for another dismal year. Even their own players are beginning to look at the dark side of things; CB DeAngelo Hall, a former Pro-Bowler, claimed that there has been a lack of “fight” and desire to succeed in the players’ attitudes.
The Eagles find themselves in a comfortable situation, sitting at 2-1 with their star players healing up for Week 5, and should re-enter the race for the NFC East with confidence in two weeks.
Picture source: Online image. http://www.faniq.com/images/blog/94500d6a41760813a473c54917ab473b.jpg