State of the NFC East: Week 11

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TEAM REC NET POINTS DIV REC NFC REC
Dallas Cowboys 9-1 98 2-1 5-1
NY Giants 7-3 4 2-1 5-3
Washington Redskins 6-3-1 21 2-1 4-2
Philadelphia Eagles 5-5 55 0-3 3-5

The Cowboys remain the class of the NFC East and perhaps the entire conference. Their 9-game winning streak is the best in franchise history, which is pretty impressive considering that’s a franchise with 5 Super Bowl championships. Rookie QB Dak Prescott is making a good case not only for Rookie of the Year, but also MVP. Ditto RB Ezekiel Elliott. The offensive line remains the best in the league and the defense is surprisingly tough, though it obviously benefits greatly from an offense that eats up yards and time with long scoring drives. This is a team built to win in December, January, and, just maybe, a game on the first Sunday of February. All six of Dallas’ remaining games are against the NFC and three are in the division, starting with hosting Washington on Thanksgiving. The road won’t be easy for Dallas — none of their remaining opponents currently has a record below .500 and their overall record is 35-24-1. The Cowboys have earned their top seed in the conference and they will have to continue to do so.

The Giants just keep winning, despite rarely looking very good in the process. They’ve won five in a row to get to 7-3, but not a single team they’ve beaten during that winning streak currently has a winning record. However, the Giants are almost certain to get to eight wins before they are challenged again because their next opponent is the 0-11 Cleveland Browns. After that, though, things get tougher and we will find out if the Giants are a playoff-worthy team or just a pretender that has been feeding off the weak and infirm. A trip to Pittsburgh follows the Browns game and then the Giants host the Cowboys and Lions before finishing on the road in Philadelphia and Washington. The Giants probably need to win three of their last six to get a wild card with 10 wins. The Browns is one easy win. Can they find two more?

Philadelphia’s predictable loss to the Seahawks (the game was not as close as the score makes it appear) dropped the Eagles to 5-5 and two games into last place. They’re definitely heading in the wrong direction, with five losses in their last seven games. However, they can get back in the mix with two games against struggling teams — hosting Green Bay on Sunday and then going to Cincinnati to face a Bengals team that appears punchless with WR AJ Green out for the season. After that, the Eagles finish the last four games by hosting all three division rivals, with a game at Baltimore mixed in for good measure. In other words, winning out against the division would probably get the Eagles into the playoffs and that’s what they’ll have to do because their 0-3 division record is a major stumbling block right now.

With an offense in the top ten in all the major categories — 9th in points, 10th in rushing yards, 3rd in passing yards, 2nd in overall yards — and a quarterback in the middle of a very hot streak, the Skins have to like their playoff chances. Right now, Washington is the 6th seed, the final wild card winner behind the Giants. However, the Skins face an upcoming schedule almost identical to the Giants’ in difficulty, with remaining opponents holding a 31-28-1 record. An extremely challenging game on Thanksgiving in Dallas is first up. The Cowboys are only 1-3 in their last four Thanksgiving games, but the Skins have a very quick turnaround after playing on Sunday night and the home team has already been installed as 6.5 point favorites. After Dallas, the Skins travel to the desert to play the Arizona Cardinals, a mediocre team struggling with a terrible offensive line. However, the Cardinals still have lots of talent and could very easily defend their own building and beat the Skins. After that, the Skins go on the road yet again to play the Eagles and attempt a season sweep. That brutal 3-game road stretch may very well define Washington’s season. Even that won’t be the end of the difficulties, though. Washington must then host a Carolina Panthers team that seems to be righting the ship and becoming a dangerous team again. The easiest game the Skins have, on paper, is in Soldier Field against the 2-8 Bears on the second-to-last weekend of the regular season. The Skins will finish the year at home against the Giants.

This is going to be a barnburner down the stretch in the NFC East, with no teams facing an easy schedule and the very real possibility of three of the four teams making the playoffs only heightening the competition and sense of urgency.

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