NFC East: The most competitive division in the NFL
The NFC East, widely thought of as the laughing stock of the NFL. A division that has seen much success in the past, came under fire towards the end of the 2019 regular season after discussions arose as too if any of the teams deserved a spot in the postseason. The 2020 season has started off much the same way as after 5 weeks of games the teams have a combined 4 wins and 1 tie.
With a global pandemic and injuries plaguing teams around the league, it is already hard to predict who will win what game. In the NFC East, where every team has a chance when none of the teams can win a game, a clear champion might not emerge until the very end of the season.
The Dallas Cowboys have taken the lead in Week 5 after a wild roller coaster of a game against the New York Giants. The Cowboys won off of a game winning field goal by Greg Zuerlein. It was a bittersweet victory though, as they lost their starting quarterback Dak Prescott to a serious leg injury in the 3rd quarter.
Andy Dalton came in to take over after that and Ezekiel Elliot started to take the game into his own hands finishing off the drive with a touchdown run and holding up 4 fingers to the camera in honor of his fallen quarterback. Later on in the 4th quarter, Dalton turned over the ball after fumbling the snap which led to the Giants taking over the lead with a touchdown and 2 point conversion. It was all Cowboys after that.
Dalton led his emotional group down the field on the following drive to tie up the game with a field goal. The Giants were given a chance to win their first game of the season with the ball in their young quarterbacks hands but only made it 15 yards before being forced to punt. Then it was Andy Dalton’s turn to give it a try and after some great catches from the receivers they were able to take it 72 yards in under a minute to set up the game winning kick.
The Cowboys offense looked great on paper with their powerful duo of Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott as well as a stellar receiving core. But with many injuries on the offensive line and having one of the worst defenses in the league, they have often been forced to chase from behind in games that were too little too late. Add Prescott onto the list out for the season and it will be very interesting to see how far Dalton can take this team. Although I must say that after he swept off some of the dust he looked pretty good out there.
The Giants are no strangers to the injury train that has wiped out many of the league’s top players. Saquon Barkley was carted off in week 2 after a season ending leg injury and wide receiver Sterling Shepard has yet to return from a foot injury in the same game. It has been a struggle for the Giants offense going 2 straight games with nothing but field goals to write home about. But in Week 5 they showed some light as they put up 34 points on an underwhelming Cowboys defense.
Devonta Freeman has officially taken over as the feature back for the Giants taking 17 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown along with 27 yards through the air. He was picked up after week 2 to help replace the fallen Barkley.
The Giants remain winless after the heartbreaker in Dallas but things are looking up. The defense has kept them competitive in most of the games this season and the offense finally looked like, well an offense. If the Giants can take the good with the bad and carry over the same style and level of play next week against Washington, then they will have a good chance of getting in the win column.
Leg injuries have been a dark theme early in the NFL season but Alex Smith, who suffered a gruesome leg injury in 2018 that nearly cost him his life, returned to the field for the first time on Sunday for the Washington Football Team. Washington not only benched their 2019 first round draft pick, they demoted Dwayne Haskins all the way to 3rd string behind Kyle Allen and Alex Smith after a 1-3 start to the 2020 campaign. Allen was given the start and ended a first quarter drive with a scramble for a touchdown. That was about all we saw out of him before he was knocked out of the game by a helmet to helmet hit from Jalen Ramsey. Alex Smith entered the game and took a good couple of hits before leading Washington on a 49 second drive that ended with a field goal to end the first half. The scoring stopped there for Washington as the downpour of rain and struggles continued ending with a combined 108 total yards on the day.
This leads to a lot of questions for Washington. Who will get the start in week 6? Smith remained in the game after Allen was cleared to return. Will he be given a shot to lead this team to victory against the Giants next week? Or will he relinquish the starting job back to Allen? Will Dwayne Haskins ever touch the ball in a Washington jersey again?
One bright side to a rough day for the Washington Football Team was the return of 2020 2nd overall pick Chase Young. Young missed some time after suffering from a groin injury in week 3. Although he did little to help stop the Los Angeles Rams from dropping 30 points.
The Philadelphia Eagles came into this week with the lead in the division after a win and a tie and with Dak Prescott’s injury, they become the slight favorite to win the division. Although they were struggling with injuries as well, the Carson Wentz led Eagles put up a great fight against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and nearly pulled out the win. Travis Fulgham has emerged as a sudden superstar after injuries at the wide receiver position gave him a chance to play. He had 10 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers. The Eagles will have a tough game coming up against a Baltimore Ravens team that just blew out the very same team the Eagles tied with.
In a season like no other before, amidst a global pandemic. Where some teams are able to take advantage of the home field while others are forced to play in empty stadiums. Where after 3 weeks of no significant test results, a team can be hit harder and faster by a nose swab test than by any team in the league. Where it doesn’t matter if you are the practice squad quarterback or QB 1, everyone and anyone is at the mercy of the test results. Where people all across the country are taking a final stand against racism. Where what could be the most important election in American history will take place right in the middle of the season.
Who’s going to win the NFC East? Shoot I don’t know and neither do you. But one thing is for sure. You better buckle up that seat belt and hang on for dear life because this season will be one you will never forget.