Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ugly week for NFC East

As the Dallas Cowboys sat at home this weekend, reaching the bye week with a 3-2 record after edging out the then-winless Chiefs in overtime, they enjoyed perhaps one of their best weeks in recent memory. The Cowboys record did not change, but Dallas watched as three other NFC East foes stumbled or crumbled during Week 6.

The New Orleans Saints handed the New York Giants their first loss of the season. Those winless Chiefs mentioned above, well they joined the list of anemic teams who defeated the Washington Redskins to get into the win column on the season. In afternoon action, the Raiders clipped the wings of the Eagles.

Here's a quick look at the NFC East standings entering the week and after the Week 6 games:
New York Giants501.000
Philadelphia Eagles31.750
Dallas Cowboys32.600
Washington Redskins23.400

New York Giants51.833
Dallas Cowboys32.600
Philadelphia Eagles32.600
Washington Redskins24.333

Each of the three NFC East teams in action this week showed serious flaws during their outings. Starting with the least disturbing (more as a result of their opponent, not their performance), the New York Giants got blown up in Eli Manning's debut at the Superdome. This game saw the Saints running up the score and putting a larger margin between themselves and the Giants at the top of the NFC. Pencil in New Orleans for a first-round bye come playoff time. As for the Giants, they looked much more human in the 48-27 loss, but they will get a chance to tangle with the conference's other top dog, the Vikings, in the final week of the season. That might be the game to determine the other first-round bye in the NFC.

New York just couldn't stop Drew Brees - not that anyone has been able to do that this season - and the Giants committed a pair of turnovers to go along with 9 penalties for 110 yards. The game got so out of hand that David Carr came in to quarterback the Giants toward the end of the game. That's how bad this game was going. David Carr was voluntarily entered into the game. Yeesh!

In Oakland, the Eagles never got off the ground against the Raiders, and Andy Reid forgot to call running plays. Remember a few season ago when Reid was criticized for being a very pass-heavy offense (pass heavy being 60% pass plays, 40% running plays). Well in this game, Reid called 52 pass plays compared to 14 runs. Someone Matthew do some quick math, and you'll see that's a 79% to 21% ratio of more pass plays than running. Now sometimes you might see that if a team is down big early and need to throw a lot to get back into the game. That wasn't the case in this 13-9 low-scoring affair. Donovan McNabb was under constant pressure, being sacked six times. Now Philly faces three straight weeks of NFC East games, although they get an easy way to start things off with the dreadful Redskins.

How bad are things in Washington? If you're still not sure if head coach Jim Zorn is going to get fired - and soon - as a result of the poor play in D.C., consider that he will no longer be calling the plays. The ugly loss to the Chiefs is the fourth loss by Washington this year, and only the loss to the Giants was something you could really call acceptable. Washington began their season against the softest schedule ever to start a season. No one they have played to this point has had a win to speak of coming into a game with the Redskins. Sure, it's nice to have wins over St. Louis and Tampa Bay - both of which are still winless, and the 'Skins won those games by a combined five points - but how do you explain losses to the likes of the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers or Kansas City Chiefs?

You don't explain those types of games. You go back to the drawing board and rethink the entire strategy. The Redskins benched quarterback Jason Campbell during the game. They've neutered their head coach. And people think the Cowboys have problems.

Lots of chinks in the armor of the traditionally strong NFC East in Week 6. It appears this division has plenty of problems to go around.

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