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NFC East Report, Week 7: Washington let Wentz escape, Cowboys back on track

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NFC East Report, Week 7: Washington let Wentz escape, Cowboys back on track

Each week, we'll take a look at how the Eagles' division rivals fared the previous weekend (spoiler alert: THE EAGLES GOT THIS THING ON LOCK-DOWN) and what they have upcoming. This week the Giants finally got their GM of eleven years on the hot seat, the Cowboys gave their fans false confidence, and the team from D.C. got humiliated on national television.



Here’s what happened in Week 7 in the NFC East:



Washington (3-3)

What Happened: Well, yeah, we gotta start here, don’t we? Despite playing a rusty Iggles team in what was essentially a must-win if they wanted a shot at the division, Washington blew a 10-3 lead, falling to the best football team on the planet by a score of 34-24. Dan Snyder’s property had a chance to stake their claim to the NFC East throne last night, and instead they were soundly murdered in the North in front of a major audience. They’re sorta like Peter Baelish, if the nickname “Little Finger” was actually a racial slur.

Sure, Birds fans are giggling this week like they’re Barry and Dubya in retirement, but let’s not forget Jay Gruden’s squad was at one point out-gaining Doug Pederson’s team, 178-32. Deep into the second quarter, the Washington D had held Carson Wentz to 24 total yards. Early on, this game felt like a statement from Kirk Cousins and Co., similar to what they delivered against Oakland back in September. At 9 pm Monday night, the newspapers were already plotting puns for headlines based around the phrase “TRAP GAME,” if, y’know, newspapers were still a thing.

Then they blew it.



Washington didn’t do anything particularly egregious … they simply didn’t look like the better team. Some would say ‘outclassed,’ which is a recurring theme for anything owned by Snyder. Carson Wentz led a touchdown drive at the end of the 2nd quarter, giving the Birds a lead they would never relinquish. Gruden oddly opted to run out the clock with like 30 seconds to go in the half, and the Birds opened up the 3rd quarter with another touchdown drive. The Washington D, featuring domestic abuser Junior Galette and down a number of big names like Josh Norman and Jonathan Allen, just never had an answer.

The closest Washington came to coming back Monday Night was right before “The Escape.” Had Wentz actually gone down, the Birds would have been forced to punt and protect a one-score lead. Instead, well … Carson Wentz happened, and residents of the Greater D.C. Area will be having hot flashes about that play in the same way that Mike Vick’s 6-touchdown Monday Night still gives them the sweats. 

FLASHBACK: In 1999, an entire generation of Washington Football Fans learned they’d be subject to misery for years at the hands (and feet) of Donovan McNabb when he led a woeful Eagles squad to victory in his very first career start. Monday Night’s contest had to feel eerily similar for this long-suffering fanbase.



Positive Spin: In 1978, the NFL adopted the Wild Card, meaning you don’t need to win the division to make the playoffs. So hey, there’s that!

Sure, Washington still has a shot at the Wild Card, the NFL's version of ‘Last Chance Kitchen,’ though being resigned to that this early in the season is never a good look. As the conference currently stands, they’ll be competing with Green Bay (sans Rodgers), Detroit (coached by Jim Caldwell), Carolina (Cam Newton hates women), Atlanta (wicked hangover), Seattle (tissue-paper O-line) and Dallas (straight garbage). If Washington can recapture the formula they used against Oakland a few weeks back (or the first drive on Monday night), a postseason berth isn’t completely out of the question.



Negative Spin: Seriously, this team isn’t winning the division. Just ask their coach. Looking at the numbers for the sabermetrics nerds out there; if the Birds go 4-5 the rest of the way (which they won’t), Washington needs to go 8-2 in order to take the crown. That would likely require sweeping Dallas, sweeping New York, and beating the Seahawks at home. If you believe that, you’re probably the type that mentions their Trump University diploma when applying for jobs.


Making matter worse, Trent Williams is banged up, and it showed. He joins the likes of Morgan Moses and Brandon Scherff, who seemed to spend most of Monday night being looked at by trainers. 



What’s Next: A home game against the hated Dallas Cowboys. Washington needed a win against Philly to stay afloat in the division this week, and they blew it. They now need a win against Dallas to stay a foot ahead in the Wild Card, so one can only hope they learn to wrap up their tackles.

Dallas Cowboys (3-3)

What Happened: There was reason for hope here for Iggles fans (and fans of anyone who believes in truth, justice, and joy). Despite being winless, San Fran had played every opponent tough so far this season. The game was in Santa Clara. Dallas’ locker room seemed in disarray, and the Niners were due. Could an upset be brewing?



Not at all. This game was what every delirious Big D fan had been imagining all summer; Zeke had three scores and over 200 all-purpose yards, Dak threw for three himself, and Dez had nine catches overall to ruin your fantasy day. Even Jason Witten had a touchdown, which always feels completely outdated, like every time I see a commercial for the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie (which went to DVD awfully fast).

The closest this one came was when the score was 20-3 (seriously) and the Niners appeared to be driving towards the end of the second half, getting as far as the five-yard line. A touchdown there, and suddenly we have ourselves a game.

But this one wasn’t a game; DeMarcus Lawrence sacked Niners quarterback C.J. Beathard (NOT DJ Beat-Hard, as I’d originally hoped), forcing a fumble, and essentially ending this one at halftime. Dallas walked out with a 40-10 victory and good vibes all around, and the rest of us who had to watch Beathard ‘perform’ were left wondering how Colin Kaepernick still doesn’t have a job.

Oh, and for those keeping score at home, Jerry Jones said that social injustice protests during the national anthem are hurting the NFLs bottom line. The NFL revenue projections for 2016 were around $13 BILLION, and Jones never made such a comment when he opted to pay domestic abuser Greg Hardy $11.3 MILLION for one season (nearly the same amount Dez Bryant is receiving THIS season, just to put that in perspective). #RealNews. 



Positive Spin: At 3-3 and with two games against Philly still remaining, the Cowboys feel like the only legitimate threat to stealing the divisional crown off the Wentz Wagon. It’s hard not to feel good after a 40-10 shellacking, even if it is against Kyle Shanahan and the only team in the NFL not from Cleveland that’s probably worse than the Giants. Good teams beat bad teams soundly, and on Sunday, the Cowboys sure sounded like a good team.



In other news, the difference Sean Lee makes to this defense has been well-documented but is still tremendously underrated. Like the seasons of SVU with Chris Meloni. 



Negative Spin: Sadly, it’s hard to throw garbage on a team after winning 40-10, even if it was against the Niners. Like Washington, the Cowboys will have to go on a bit of a run in the second half to catch the Birds, though they have the advantage of getting to play Philly twice. And the Zeke suspension still hangs over this team like the Sword of Damocles, if a Greek literary illusion was comparable to pulling a girl's top down in public.



Oh, and their kicker got hurt, which means I get to boot in (haha) another kicker analogy;  kickers are like health insurance, in that it really shouldn’t be so complicated, but apparently is, and please please please just let it work when I need it. Here’s hoping the Cowboys miss enrollment following the injury to Dan Bailey.



What’s Next: The Cowboys have to go out to D.C. for a rivalry game, then come home to face Andy’s Chiefs, followed by a trip to Atlanta against a Falcons squad that may be pretty desperate. That means this Sunday is a pretty big game for Big D. While the easy-bits of the Iggles schedule have been well documented, the Cowboys schedule is a bit bumpier. It’s like comparing a shot of Fireball to a snifter of lighter fluid (though most doctors agree, the latter is probably better for you in the long run).

New York Giants (1-6)

What Happened: Seriously, you want a recap of the Giants/Seahawks game? Why not read something more consequential, like Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” translated into Klingon? Aight sure, here it goes…

Thanks to some effective defense (especially in the trenches) and a touchdown pass to rookie tight end Evan Engram (who will likely be a thorn in the Eagles' side for years, assuming he still has a quarterback to throw him the ball come 2019), the Giants actually led at home against the one-time NFC juggernaut Seattle Seahawks going into the second half. It all unraveled shortly thereafter, however, when formerly-great tight end Jimmy Graham stopped dropping passes and Russell Wilson (who’s just a smaller, older version of Carson Wentz) threw three second-half TD’s, including one on a nifty trick play that had all the creativity of “Mr. Peanutbutter’s House.”

The Giants just couldn’t muster enough offense despite playing a beat up Seattle D. That’s what’ll happen when your GM only prioritizes the passing game (as opposed to the running backs or the offensive line) and they all go down to injury faster than a 76ers first-round draft pick.

Speaking of the GM, Jerry Reese said this week the Giants may have bought into their own hype too much. YOU DON’T SAY!? In other news, water remains wet, the Earth is still round, and 71-year old Donald Trump uses a spray tan. Wake me when you hear something surprising. 



Positive Spin: The Giants held in there tough, and blahblahblah. If you’re looking for some hope that this team can bounce back next season with a healthy wide receiving corps and a rebuilt offensive line … and you also believe that the 2017 Seahawks are as legit as the versions from the past few seasons …  then this is the kind of game an optimist can cling to, like a pair of pocket eights. The rest of us know this squad is in deep kaka, including the General Manager, who may be looking for a new place of employment come 2018, leaving the next guy to figure out what to do with a veteran squad built around a $75 million defensive line.



Negative Spin: Watching this team brings the same level of enjoyment as chewing on a slug. They’re an older team with far too many glaring holes to fix in a single offseason, especially when you consider they’re paying Eli $22 mil for 2018. 

The best thing the Giants can do for themselves, and for America, would be to beat the Dallas Cowboys on December 10. Make it so.
 

What’s Next: “With the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select … an offensive linemen you’ve never heard of!” But before that, games against the Rams, 49ers, and Chiefs, which has the same amount of excitement as a reality show about Ben McAdoo’s hairline. 

Eagles can put up points in scary-quick fashion

Eagles can put up points in scary-quick fashion

When the Eagles went into the locker room Sunday night for halftime at AT&T Stadium, they were trailing the Cowboys, 9-7. After Nigel Bradham returned a fumble for a touchdown with 10:43 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Eagles led 37-9.

An eight-play, 75-yard drive ending with a Corey Clement touchdown run and a two-point conversion took 4:04 off the clock. A five-play, 90-yard series capped by a Torrey Smith touchdown grab and two to Alshon Jeffery took 2:28. An 11-play, 85-yard march finished with six to Jeffery in 5:48. Obviously, Bradham’s score lasted only seconds.

In a matter of 20 minutes, the Eagles had scored 30 points. And it wasn’t the first time this team has put points on the board in bunches.

Against the Broncos two weeks ago, the Eagles racked up 31 points in the span of about 24 minutes in the first half. The previous game, they posted 17 over a period of fewer than 12 minutes in the second and third quarters to pull away from the 49ers. And one week earlier, the Eagles went from down 10-3 to up 24-10 on the Redskins with three touchdown drives in 13 minutes during quarters two and three.

That’s just the last four games. The Eagles have shown the ability to light up the scoreboard quickly just about every week this season.

Thirteen points in under 15 minutes against the Panthers. Twenty-one points in the first quarter alone on the Cardinals. Thirteen points in the final seven minutes to come from behind and beat the Giants.

The Eagles don’t just score a lot. They do score a lot, of course — their 320 points leads the NFL.

The Eagles score a lot, and they often pour it on when they do, in a manner that demoralizes opponents. Once that wound is picked open, it can take a whole quarter to stop the bleeding. Lately, it’s been the better part of a half of football.

It’s not as if teams are responding, matching scoring drives or going point for point with the Eagles, either. Once the floodgates open, opponents are often facing an insurmountable deficit after the devastation.

The offense is moving the ball, but the defense is creating turnovers and getting off the field, too, occasionally even finding the end zone themselves. The Eagles have three defensive touchdowns on the season, and their 20 takeaways are good for third in the NFL.

What does it all mean? The Eagles are 9-1, best record in the league, and quarterback Carson Wentz is the frontrunner to win the Most Valuable Player award. They have the No. 1 run defense in the league, rank first in point differential and second in turnover differential. At this point, it’s no secret this is one of the best teams in the game.

But should the Eagles ever find themselves in a position where they’re behind late — something that hasn’t happened in going on months – you know they’re not out of it. Even if they’re trailing by three possessions in the fourth quarter, the defense can get some holds, and Wentz can get 21 points in a hurry. He’s done it before.

And if the Eagles aren’t trailing, and they go on a huge run, you know the tides have likely changed for good.

Recently, it hasn’t been a question of “if” at all, but “when” the Eagles start scoring in bunches. The Eagles are averaging just short of 34 points during their eight-game winning streak, and have finished with no fewer than 26 during that stretch.

It doesn’t always happen right out of the gate, but the Eagles keep on scoring in droves.

Joel Embiid roasted the Warriors even after tough loss

Joel Embiid roasted the Warriors even after tough loss

Every time Joel Embiid takes the basketball court — or pulls his phone out of his pocket — he has the ability to surprise us with a new move.

Jojo went toe-to-toe with the NBA's best Golden State Warriors on Saturday night, particularly chatting it up with Draymond Green, and held his own in a tough loss in front of a packed house of Philadelphia Sixers fans.

Embiid is clearly in opposing teams' heads at this early stage of his career. Prior to the game Saturday, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said what Joel did in L.A. last week was "terrifying." Then, following the Golden State win, Kevin Durant said they didn't want to lose to the Sixers because then they'd have to hear about it from Embiid on Twitter afterward.

“We wanted to win this game really, really bad. After being down by so much. And we didn’t want to lose to these guys, especially [Embiid]," Durant said.

“He woulda gone straight to Twitter and start talkin’ shit.”

Welp. The Sixers lost and Embiid found a way to roast the Warriors anyway. That's a new one!

The man is creative. A classic throwback burn to the legendary 3-1 collapse to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lovely.

There's something about the way Embiid talks trash that other teams appreciate. Following the game on Saturday night, Draymond said he respects Embiid's trash talk game because he doesn't just talk when the Sixers are winning, he talks smack the entire game no matter what.

That's dedication to his craft.