It wasn’t a particularly good NFL Sunday for the Eagles, with the Giants, Packers, Bears, Falcons and Saints all winning. That leads to a lot of teams in the NFC with good records battling it out down the stretch. Here are Monday’s Musings after a lot of interesting action this week.
1. From an Eagles perspective, it’s a shame they didn’t get a game against the Cowboys earlier this year when they seemed completely inept. They’re now a handful and it might be a good thing Philadelphia has a mini-bye going into next week’s game, which looks like a must-win. They all do at this point the way the NFC is going. On that note, things tend to come back towards the field at this point in the year, but…
2. There could very well be a 10-6 team in the NFC that does not go to the playoffs. In fact, there’s a chance at an 11-5 team being left out. The NFC South is really messing things up for the Wild Card teams, as the Saints and Buccaneers already got a pair of free wins from the 1-11 Panthers, who still play the Falcons twice. The Falcons look like a lock for home field advantage with a one game lead and the added edge of facing the Panthers twice, which would mean the Saints, currently 9-3, are in the Wild Card mix out of that division. The Bears hold a one game lead over the Packers, who still have to play each other – but both hold a tiebreaker over the Eagles, essentially meaning the Birds would be a game out of that Wild Card spot as it stands now. What does all of this mean? Philadelphia can’t feel good about just getting to 10-6 or even 11-5 and grabbing a Wild Card spot, so winning the NFC East is of the utmost importance. One team will have a real gripe in the NFC when they are left out with a 10-6 record.
3. The crux of their complaint should fall on the fact that the NFC West will get a team in at .500, or maybe worse. Sure, the 6-6 Rams or 6-6 Seahawks could get hot, but it’s unlikely. Both have a negative points differential. The division is a combined 11-21 against non-NFC West competition, buoyed by Seattle’s win over Carolina today. The Seahawks, by the way, had to come back from a 14-3 deficit against the worst team in the league. With the remaining schedules, it’s hard to picture either team doing better than 8-8. Seattle has to visit San Francisco, host Atlanta, visit Tampa Bay and then host St. Louis. The Rams have a trip to New Orleans, home games against Kansas City and San Francisco and then the season finale in Seattle. Both should be underdogs against their non-divisional opponents.
4. Donovan McNabb locked up a new career high yesterday – in interceptions. His two picks put him up to 15, breaking him out of a tie with his old worst year back in 200-2001 when he threw 13 picks. Back then, though, number five also hurled 21 touchdowns. This year, he’s only thrown 12. Aside from his rookie season when he only started 12 games, McNabb has never thrown fewer than 16 touchdowns in a season. His current pace is for 16 scores and 19 picks. His rating is down to 75.2, the worst since his rookie season when it was 60.1. How much of it is aging and how much of it is Washington being a bad fit? At this point it looks like a healthy mix of both, but man are the Redskins bad. Watching them yesterday it was hard not to wonder how they even got to five wins in the first place. This is a Washington team that was at one point 3-2, leading the NFC East after beating Philadelphia and Green Bay in back to back weeks. They also beat the Bears, but have lost four of five since. It’s easy to picture Donovan McNabb NOT landing back in the District of Columbia at this point.