Translating Jumbled NFC East Playoff Picture

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Translating Jumbled NFC East Playoff Picture
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
There's not many quarterbacks who've played better than Nick Foles this season.

A year ago, the NFC East was thought to be the most competitive division in all of football. Here we are a year later and none of the East's four teams have been particularly impressive.

As it stands right now, the Philadelphia Eagles are in first place at 6-5, but both the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants are in striking range at 5-5 and 4-6 respectively.

As we head into Week 12, the Eagles are in a great position to extend their current win streak to four games as they take on the Arizona Cardinals (19th in the NFL against the pass).

Nick Foles vs. Top QBs (last three games)
Name Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Completion %
Tom Brady 844 6 2 66.7%
Nick Foles 932 10 0 69.6%
Peyton Manning 1,007 9 3 65.6%
Matt Stafford 1.069 6 4 53.6%
Drew Brees 1,079 7 3 69.6%

Pro Football Reference

Nick Foles has been surprisingly exceptional, throwing 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions in just seven games. As you can see in the chart above, Foles' stats from this past month are pretty comparable to some of the league's best, most respected passers. While it's easy to doubt that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league given this small sampling of his ability, hasn't he at least been playing like it?

Aside from Foles' aerial prowess, the Eagles boast the league's current rushing leader in LeSean McCoy (1,009 yards), who's been having an All-Pro season (1,408 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns).

Their defense also seems to be stiffening up, yielding just 16 points this past Sunday against a Redskins team that was averaging 25 points per game.  Philly clearly has the upper hand at this point in time, but three of their remaining five games are against the likes of the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and the division-rival Cowboys.

If they lose those three games and win the other two, they will end the season with an 8-8 record which could very well win the division.

What the Eagles should be worried about most is the Giants' current streak. They've won four straight games and are getting hot at the right time. Their running game is rejuvenated given the return of Andre Brown (212 total yards and a touchdown in his last two games), and it is definitely what's been helping them string together these past few wins.

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Eli Manning has also been playing well these past four games for the Giants, throwing for 865 yards and three touchdowns. In their next few games, they will be playing the Redskins and their struggling defense twice, along with the troubled Chargers and the horrid secondary of the Lions. Detroit has allowed an average of 283 passing yards per game as well as 10 plays of 40-plus yards.

The Giants have also rediscovered their pass rush and have been one of the toughest squads in this past month of the season. In their last four games, they've allowed an average of just 12 points a game as opposed to the 35 that they allowed in their first six.

If there's anything the Giants have been lately it's consistent, and if they can keep their offense rolling against these teams then they may be able to steal away the NFC East crown.

While down yet not completely out, the Dallas Cowboys are also a dangerous team as we reach the home stretch of the 2013 season. They do have the toughest remaining schedule compared to their division rivals; they play the Eagles, Green Bay Packers and Bears as well as a Redskins team that has been playing better as of late.

The last time Washington and Dallas played it was a hard-fought, gritty victory by the Cowboys, but they can't count out the Redskins. What it all comes down to in Washington is Robert Griffin III. As much as football is a team game, the quarterback is the most important piece and if he isn't performing well then Washington will undoubtedly struggle.

RG3 has played better in these last few games, but he, along with the rest of the Redskins' offense and coaching staff, need to make better decisions in crucial situations.

For example, on the last drive against the Vikings in Week 10, there is no reason why Kyle Shanahan should not have called more runs for Alfred Morris near the goal line. He had been having a hell of a game (26 carries for 139 yards) and surely could've pushed the remaining way for a touchdown, catapulting the Redskins to a victory.

Even if they were that set on throwing the ball, why not use RG3's athleticism and the threat of Morris to call a bootleg? It worked countless times for Washington in the red zone last year, and very well could've won them the game.

 

 

Regardless, Washington's playoff hopes for this year are gone. At this point, they are just in too big of a hole at 3-7 to win the division and make a playoff appearance for the second year in a row. Especially with upcoming games against the San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs and Giants, the Redskins will have a hard time mustering up more than another couple of wins.

It's time to start reevaluating the roster, and maybe the coaching staff, to figure out who's going to be around next season and who will be left to walk.

 

*All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference*

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