There is little question that the NFC East is once again going to shape up as one of the best divisions in all of football. The Giants are looking to repeat and stay a step ahead of talented Eagles and Cowboys teams. But now to suddenly further complicate matters are the Washington Redskins, a team that had one of the most impressive victories of the opening week. Robert Griffin III’s masterful performance which led to a Week 1 win has fans in Washington replacing plans to rebuild with plans to win now. So what do we make of these four teams? Well, let’s take a look.
1) New York Giants (0-1) Oh, you don’t like that, do you? Well, I’m not going to go all ESPN.com and drop a team 10 steps down the ladder after one tough loss to a divisional opponent. The Giants have been historically slow starters, so it’s not all that surprising that Eli Manning and company had their share of problems last Wednesday night against a talented Dallas team. The Giants defensive line generated the expected pressure, but Tony Romo played one of the finest games of his career. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap. With a 10-day layoff and a home date with Tampa Bay coming in Week 2, I expect the Giants to get back on track and the fickle media to be right back on board, too.
2) Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) Look, nobody can sit here and say that the Eagles looked good after a 17-16 season opening win over the Cleveland Browns. But it was still a season opening win. A win in which the Eagles’ much-maligned defense came up huge, forcing four Brandon Weeden interceptions and limiting the rookie quarterback to a 5.1 passer rating. That rating, by the way, is the lowest they’ve allowed since 1976. How many times did the Eagles blow late leads last season? How many times did we all wonder how things could have been different if they would have pulled out a few more ugly wins like they did today? It wasn’t impressive. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t the emphatic exclamation point that 2012 will be their year like we all wanted. But it was a win. With that said, the Eagles will have to clean things up and quick as they prepare for Baltimore this weekend. I expect them to do just that.
3) Dallas Cowboys (1-0) I talked a little bit above about Tony Romo’s admirable effort against New York in Week 1. He was an efficient 22 of 29 for 307 yards and three touchdowns. What’s more, he was at his best when it mattered most, moving the chains in critical situations. That’s not something we’ve grown particularly accustomed to seeing from him in recent years, but the guy deserves credit. He was aided by DeMarco Murray’s 131 yards (6.6 per carry) and it’s certain that the Cowboys will have one of the league’s more dynamic offenses moving forward. Still, no offense to Kevin Ogletree, but I wouldn’t expect anymore eight catch, 114-yard and two touchdown performances from the man anytime soon. Despite improved secondary play and disruptive pressure from DeMarcus Ware, I need to see Rob Ryan’s defense consistently shut down opponents and limit big plays. We probably won’t learn much on that front this week when the Cowboys travel to Seattle.
4) Washington Redskins (1-0) Not a bad debut for Robert Griffin III. When you think Washington Redskins football, you typically don’t think explosive plays and high point totals. But that changed on Sunday. The Redskins scored 10 points in each quarter as Griffin completed 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns. He then added 42 yards on the ground. While sports media types too often like to jump to hasty conclusions about certain guys, it appears RGIII’s talent and potential are legit. Still, the Saints defense doesn’t match those of the units in the NFC East and the Redskins have serious concerns on the defensive side of the football. No disrespect to Washington, but I need to see a little bit more before I’m willing to take the plunge and buy the hype.