Finally, we have a little movement in this week’s rankings after two weeks of each team holding firm in their spots.
What did we learn this weekend? The Redskins’ early season success came to a crashing thud, the Cowboys can’t get out of their own way, and the Giants are a flawed, but resilient football team. As for the Eagles, the jury is out–but they are still breathing. And at this point, I’ll take it.
1. New York Giants (4-2): I find it amazing that the Giants are undisputedly the best team in this division through six weeks. The Giants’ defense allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to complete over 66% percent of his passes and throw for two touchdowns. What’s more troubling for New York is that the Bills gained 6.7 yards per carry, highlighted by Fred Jackson’s 80-yard sprint.
The Giants give up too many big plays on defense. Jackson’s run and Naaman Roosevelt’s (who the hell is Naaman Roosevelt, by the way?) 60-yard touchdown reception are the types of plays the Giants must eliminate in order to become a legitimate contender. Still, their defense forced three sacks and two interceptions–including a critical pick by Corey Webster late in the fourth quarter that stopped what would have been a go-ahead scoring drive.
Offensively, Eli Manning threw for 292 yards Sunday without a turnover. Manning is quietly (hard to do something quietly in New York) putting together a Pro Bowl caliber season. Through six games, Manning has thrown for 1778 yards, 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He’s averaging 9.07 yards per pass attempt, a full yard more than his career best of 7.90 YPA in 2009. If Manning can keep this up, the Giants are going to win the division.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4): Aw, he’s all pumped up about the hometown squad!
I’m really not. I promise.
You know when you go to the bathroom and you stand up and look at the toilet, and the turd is just gone like a ghost? That’s the best kind of turd. Quick, clean, and easy.
The Eagles are like that turd, whereas Dallas and Washington are the kind that you have to waddle on the toilet for 15 minutes to get out, then wipe 16 times before you feel fairly confident your ass is clean enough to resume normal activities. What I’m saying is, each of these teams are crap. But the Eagles may be the best piece being pinched right now.
The Eagles saved their season Sunday. They are a deeply flawed team, but showed improvement in each of the areas they’ve been harshly criticized for over the last few weeks. If they can beat Dallas in two weeks off the bye, things have a chance to get very interesting.
3. Dallas Cowboys (2-3): Much like the Eagles, the Cowboys seemingly find a different way to lose each week.
Everyone is quick to criticize Tony Romo, and they should. But this one wasn’t on Romo. And it’s not on offensive coordinator Jason Garrett for going conservative late in the game, either. Yes, Garrett could have been a bit more aggressive, but with Romo’s knack for turning the ball over late in games, he elected to take sure points, get the lead, and allow his defense–a defense that had been dominant all day, mind you, to close it out.
It’s terrific that they went up to New England and limited the Patriots’ offense to only 20 points. All hail, Rob Ryan. But for as good as Ryan’s defense was on Sunday, it couldn’t finish the job. Tom Brady methodically picked apart the Cowboys’ defense in the waning moments of Sunday’s game. So while you may have heard the broadcast booth wax poetic about Ryan’s brilliance, his team faltered in the clutch. That seems to be a reoccuring trend for the Cowboys.
They’ll likely rebound this week, but will have to deal with a hungry, well-rested Eagles team in Philadelphia on Sunday Night Football in two weeks. They’ve done absolutely nothing to suggest they are mentally tough enough to win that game.
4. Washington Redskins (3-2): You could argue that the Redskins are still a better, more complete team than the Eagles, even after Sunday’s 20-13 loss. But you could also argue that the Redskins were thoroughly dominated at home, lack playmakers to consistently win in a division filled with explosive offenses, and are in the midst of a full-fledged quarterback controversey.
The Redskins had a chance to take over first-place at home and simultaneously step on the throat of the Eagles, effectively killing their season. Not only did they fail, they are a team now in disarray.
Beck or Grossman? Cooley appears lost for the season. And offensive tackle Trent Williams is expected to miss several weeks. It’s all bad in D.C. right now.