Week 5 of the NFL season did not treat the NFC East kindly. The division’s teams went 0-4, leaving the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Giants, who all had playoff expectations at the beginning of the season, with under .500 records after five games. The Washington Redskins, who were drubbed by the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football, stand alone in first place with a 2-2 record.
The Philadelphia Eagles haven’t looked like reigning Super Bowl Champions, and at 2-3 have been underwhelming with losses to mediocre teams such as the Tennessee Titans and the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Buccaneers. Carson Wentz still is not 100% and will improve but the team around him right now is a mess. The defense looks completely different from the dominant unit we saw a year ago and, offensively, they haven’t been able to hold onto the football with seven fumbles in five games and a -4 turnover ratio overall. To make matters worse, number one running back Jay Ajayi tore his ACL Sunday and will be out for the remainder of the season. This is not just a “Super Bowl Hangover” like some might say. At the moment, this is a bad team playing sloppy football.
Things don’t seem to be any better in the Big Apple. The New York Giants headed to Carolina in what felt like a “must-win” game for Eli Manning and his squad. Superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. agreed, calling out his quarterback and team on the Friday leading up to the game Sunday. The offense responded having their best performance to date highlighted by OBJ’s eight reception, 131-yard outing that included one receiving touchdown and one 57-yard passing touchdown to rookie phenom Saquon Barkley. Eli Manning did his part with 326 yards passing, 2 touchdowns and a last-minute drive that gave his team the lead in the final minutes. Yet, the Giants still found a way to lose on Graham Gano’s last second 63-yard field goal. Nothing has gone right for the G-Men this year and things could get significantly worse if Saquon Barkley misses time after being taken out with an injury Sunday.
The Dallas Cowboys lost a heartbreaker as well with a 19-16 overtime defeat to the Houston Texans bringing them to 2-3 on the year. The offense was unimpressive yet again, gaining 306 total yards and one touchdown. The Texans defense stifled star running back Ezekiel Elliot who ran for only 54 yards on 20 carries. Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing attack continued their struggles with only 208 yards through the air. Jaylon Smith and the defense kept the Cowboys in it, but the offensive struggles and questionable play calling -highlighted by Jason Garrett’s decision to punt on 4th and 1 in overtime- proved to be too much to overcome. Despite a great offensive line and star running back, the Cowboys offense will continue to struggle until their receivers start to create separation and get open for their young quarterback. All-pro receiver Dez Bryant, who was released prior to the season, has clearly been missed.
The Washington Redskins capped off the NFC East’s horrid week on Monday night getting trounced 43-19 by the New Orleans Saints on a record-breaking night for Saints Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. Drew Brees tore apart the defense for 363 yards and 3 touchdowns with only 3 incompletions. Offensively the Redskins did not look any better, totaling 39 yards on the ground combined with a poor performance by quarterback Alex Smith.
Despite early-season woes, each team in this group can be thankful to know it is still anyone’s division. But, if any of these teams want to be a serious contender come playoff time in the talented NFC they will need to turn it around and turn it around fast.