Each week, we’ll take a look at how the Eagles' division rivals fared the previous weekend (spoiler alert: the weekend worked out pretty well for anyone who didn’t have to face Jake Elliott) and what they have upcoming. This week, Jay Gruden’s squad proved at least something can be functional in D.C., Dak Prescott continued his Wentz-but-worse impression, and the Giants watched their playoff hopes get booted from 61-yards-out.
Here’s what happened, and what’s happening, in the NFC East after Week 3.
New York Giants (0-3):
What Happened: Uhhhhhh, Jake ‘SI SENOR’ Elliott, that’s what happened. After being completely shut down for 45 minutes, the Giants' offense came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 unanswered in what felt like about eleven seconds, eventually giving Big Blue a 24-21 lead.
Alas, as Maya Angelou said, when someone shows you who they are, believe them. And I believe the New York Giants are a team that loves losing in creative, soul-crushing ways to your Philadelphia Eagles. With one second remaining, Elliott put himself in the all-time Birds/G-Men highlight reel with Herm, Vai, BWest, Vick, and DeSean. And sure, James Thrash, if we’re feeling charitable.
Despite two interceptions, Eli Manning played much better in this one (specifically in the 4th-quarter), while Odell Beckham had his best game of the season … though it was overshadowed by his urinating-dog touchdown celebration. Lucky for Beckham, his sophomoric celebration won’t get a fraction of the attention it typically would, as there’s some other loud-mouthed attention-seeking hot-head grabbing all the NFL headlines this week. Oohhh, a politics line! Don’t @ me, bro. I get a free pass this week.
Positive Spin: Well … I guess if you’re a Giants fan who wants Ben McAdoo on the unemployment line, or if you’re hoping to get the Davis Webb Era started sooner than later, then this was probably the result for you. Otherwise, trying to find something positive about the Giants is about as challenging as finding someone telling their barber “gimme the Trump.”
Negative Spin: The Giants season is over. O-V-A-A-H. That’s not to say they’re going 0-16, nor is it to suggest the rematch on Dec. 17th won’t be a battle. But to get to the playoffs, New York will need nine wins at a minimum. That means, for those of you counting at home, they can only afford to lose four more games. Meanwhile, they’ve still got two against Washington, one each against the Birds and the Boys, plus really tough match-ups against Denver, Seattle, Kansas City, and Oakland. Do you really see this squad, with its invisible running game, revolving-door O-line and Eli Manning quarterback winning nine of its next thirteen?!
Sure, crazier things have happened, especially in the NFC East. Eli could turn back the clock. The defense could play even better. The running game could show up. All of those things could happen. Just like President Trump could invite every single NFL player to the White House this Columbus Day for some pasta primavera. But it’s not very likely (although, if a certain dossier is to be believed, Beckham’s touchdown celebration last Sunday might actually appeal to The Donald).
What’s Next: A trip down to visit the 1-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are supposed to feature the NFL’s best wide receiving duo of Mike Evans and Jaccpot Jackson. Expect the Giants to win by 50, if only because I spent the past 100-words throwing dirt on their coffin.
What Happened: Washington tore the Oakland Raiders apart, that’s what happened. Derek Carr was turning the ball over like the 2015 version of Kirk Cousins, 2017 Kirk Cousins barely missed all night, and Dan Snyder’s squad cruised to a 27-10 victory over a Raider squad many were ready to crown as AFC Champs.
Chris Thompson once again made the highlight reel, this time deep in the 3rd quarter on a huge screen pass on 3rd-and-19 that crushed the closest thing to momentum Oakland had all evening. Yes, that’s the kind of night it was for D.C.; they converted a 3rd-and-19 with a screen pass. Despite his awesomeness, Jay Gruden has already come out and said he won’t be giving the electric Thompson any additional touches, which seems smart. It’s like when Andy knew that Brian Westbrook was his best offensive weapon, so he made sure to throw the ball at Jeff Thomason whenever they got inside the red zone. And if you know who Jeff Thomason is, you’ve been watching Eagles football long enough to qualify for a purple heart.
Positive Spin: Washington fans can feel pretty good about this one, as their team has improved in each of the past three weeks … or as good as you can feel, knowing you’re rooting for the team from Washington. Get a few better bounces in the home opener against Philadelphia, and this team could be undefeated. Could be. They’re not, but they could have been, y’know, had they not turned the ball over four times against the Iggles. Just like how Trump could have disinvited Steph Curry from visiting the White House, if only Curry hadn’t already said he wasn’t going. #RealNews.
As per usual, the media attention in the NFC East is directed toward the only team not actually located in the East. But don’t sleep on Washington just yet. This team is acting a lot like Robert Mueller; out of sight, out of mind, but working hard, and may be the biggest story we talk about down the road.
Negative Spin: TRAP GAME! This was a blatantly obvious trap game for the Oakland Raiders, the kind you can just envision Derek Carr dubbing a “wake-up call” on the NFL Films Team DVD after the season. Besides, Oakland was doomed to lose. The second team owner and man-who-still-cuts-his-hair-with-a-salad-bowl Mark Davis opted to stay in his owner’s box (instead of standing unified with his players) during the national anthem. For Shame!
If you’re looking for a knit to pick against Washington in this one, the only real thing worth grabbing onto here would be that Oakland was maybe destined to choke this one before it started, either by the conventional “trap game” or by some weird twisted bargain between the Football Gods and the Karma Gods.
What’s Next: Come on Andy, you pass-happy mustache-lovin’ example of above-mediocrity. Washington travels to Kansas City to face the undefeated Chiefs on Monday Night Football. It is the third consecutive week an NFC East team will play on Monday Night, and I for one feel incredibly left out. This must be how Tiffany Trump feels, except the NFC East does way more winning than Eric, Don Jr., and Ivanka.
What Happened: The Cowboys bounced back from an embarrassing display last week, overcoming the Arizona Cardinals 28-17. Dak Prescott was a yawn-inducing 13-of-18 (or as Doug Pederson calls it, one-drive’s-worth of passes), but managed the game well enough to get Dallas the win. Though they didn’t look electric, the Cowboys offense seemed to always come up with a big play right when they needed it.
Arizona dominated the first half in every aspect except the score, which is unfortunate, as every great football mind will tell you, scoring points is kind of a big deal. Despite Larry Fitzgerald playing like the game was at Lincoln Financial Field, Dak’s measly 183 yards in the air and Ezekiel Elliott’s equally-measly 80 on the ground were enough to get Big D the W. (Editor’s Note: No relation between Ezekiel Elliott and Football Legend Jake Elliott, in case you were wondering)
Positive Spin: As Rocky said, it’s not about how hard you get hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. Well, the Cowboys got hit pretty hard last week, and they responded with a road victory. If you had been told dem Boys would only have 282 yards on the game and that Larry Fitz would tie a career high in catches, you’d feel safe assuming Jerry Jones’ squad had dropped to 1-2. Alas, despite getting lit up on the stat sheet, Dallas walked out of the desert with a win.
Negative Spin: We’re not so sure how good the Cardinals are, so let’s not praise this conquering quite yet. The national media loves to slobber over Dak and Zeke like Trump does when he’s taking some girl furniture shopping, but to suggest either one of them played immaculately is a bit of a stretch.
And while I love Larry Fitz as much as the next guy (when he’s not putting Eagles cornerbacks into retirement), the fact that the Cowboys secondary gave up 149 yards to a 34-year-old wideout is a pretty big red flag. A week ago, we noted the Dallas secondary may be their downfall. This week did nothing to change that. Alshon Jeffrey better tear this team apart.
What’s Next: The Cowboys play host to the Los Angeles Rams who, to their credit, lead the NFC West with a record of 2-1. And if we’re subscribing to the idea that Washington is actually pretty good, then their one loss doesn’t look so bad. That being said, expect Jason Garrett (who has two winning seasons in six years as the Cowboys coach) and Co. to be heavily favored in this one.