NFC East roundup: A three-team race for No. 1

NFC East Pick ’em Record: (9-4)

The New York Giants at 3-1 feel very different from the Dallas Cowboys at 3-1. Dallas’ schedule strength is tougher against top division teams. They played the Buccaneers and the Bengals, going 1-1. The Giants faced the 2021 AFC No. 1 seeded Titans and won, but their other wins were against the bad Panthers and Bears.

Ultimately, a team can only play their schedule. New York and Dallas have a tough climb this week to keep pace with the Eagles. Here’s a look at the NFC East for Week 5.

Dallas Cowboys (3-1) at Los Angeles Rams (2-2)

The Rams, who are the defenders superbowl champions, have nothing to do with the team that lifted the Lombardi Trophy just eight months ago. They have lost many players to injury, free agency or retirement. It’s a list of dressings that head coach Sean McVay is trying to keep together.

It starts at quarterback in McVay’s system, with Stafford coming in last season to replace what the Rams had in Jared Goff. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Goff in Detroit has statistically outplayed Stafford this season. The former Rams quarterback has more passing yards, touchdowns, average yards per attempt and fewer interceptions. McVay isn’t getting a quality game from the guy the franchise has bet its future on.

The offensive line has just struggled in all areas of football which paralyzes the team. The attack also struggled to run the ball, which would relieve Stafford of going all out. The Rams are bottom of the NFL, averaging 68.5 rushing yards per game. The Texas, Colts and Jets direct the ball more effectively. It’s not like the Rams don’t have quality rushers. Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson are good running backs.

The Cowboys are catching the Rams at the right time. They’re struggling to stay healthy, their running game is a disaster, and their offensive line is vulnerable at every position. Run defense shouldn’t be a problem for Dallas this week, and their passers should go home, given the Rams allowed seven sacks on the 49ers.

Protect the ball. If Cooper Rush does it again this week, it must follow the exact plan of all of Dallas’ other wins. If the Cowboys can run the ball effectively and Rush can throw big downfield, like we saw against the Commanders, there’s no way Dallas will lose this game. The Cowboys keep rolling ahead of meeting the Eagles and winning that game 27-13.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-0) at Arizona Cardinals (2-2)

Jalen Hurts should get a lot of credit. He became not only a better quarterback, but also a better leader. During his press conference this week, the Philadelphia media asked him about Manning’s casting and other silly questions. Hurts turned the conversation around and asked reporters if they had any questions about Arizona and the game. He’s a quarterback looking to stay locked in while the rest of the world crowns Super Bowl champions.

The Philadelphia media are right. There are good vibes in the City of Brotherly Love right now. The Eagles beat a competitive Jaguars team in the rain, where they trailed 14-0 at one point. Each week presented a new hurdle, and they jumped over each one. Kyler Murray presents a problem for the Eagles defense that they haven’t seen this season.

Murray is undoubtedly more elusive and harder to take down than Carson Wentz, Kirk Cousins, Trevor Lawrence and Jared Goff. According to Next Gen Stats, the former No. 1 pick helped his team win against the Raiders in a two-point conversion first game where he ran nearly 90 yards. He is still a threat to run, so it will be interesting to see how the Eagles defense defends against this threat.

In all categories, Philadelphia is the best team. The Eagles have the No. 1 offense and will face an Arizona defense that has allowed 342.8 yards per game and is getting no assists from the pass. The Cardinals’ defense has just four sacks on the year, which is dead last in the NFL.

The Cardinals will be desperate to win in what would end up being a deciding game for them. However, the Eagles are too much for Arizona and will be another hurdle the Super Bowl favorites will clear. Philadelphia will win 35-17.

New York Giants (3-1) vs. Green Bay Packers (3-1)

The Giants will fly overseas with their starting quarterback in the second NFL game of 2022 to be played in London. Daniel Jones suffered an ankle injury in the win against Chicago Bears and was limited in practice this week. However, Ian Rapoport said Jones has no injury status and will play against the Packers on Sunday.

The Giants feel like they’re down 3-1. Their running game buoyed the team up week after week, showing no signs of passing offense. Against the Bears, New York had 82 passing yards and 242 rushing yards. That doesn’t sound like a lasting recipe for winning games in the modern NFL. Green Bay played the same type of football, and Aaron Rodgers recognize it.

The Packers’ offense ranks 15th in the league in passing yards and 7th in rushing yards. With Rodgers at quarterback, you think that would be reversed. However, with an aging quarterback lacking quality wide receivers, the offense is bound to be executed first.

The Packers also allow five yards per carry to opposing running backs. With Jones still recovering from injury and the Giants having the league’s premier rusher in Saquon Barkley, it would be wise to run early and often. This will keep the ball out of Rodgers’ hands and limit their possession time. It’s a very Jason Garrett game plan.

This game features two of the top ten rushers in the NFL. Both defenses gave up more than 500 total rushing yards to their opponents over four weeks. We know both teams will run the ball, but whichever offense can start their passing game should win. The Packers have the best quarterback and more recognizable wide receivers. They should go and win 4-1 in London, 28-17.

Washington Commanders (1-3) vs. Tennessee Titans (2-2)

With the way things are going in Washington, there could be a new quarterback and head coach on the opposing sideline when the Cowboys face them in January. During his press conference this week, head coach Ron Rivera explained that visible changes don’t happen overnight and this team needs time. Unfortunately for Rivera, he has to show results after three years in the organization.

Carson Wentz can’t pull himself together and puts his team in bad situations. The defensive line keeps things up front, while the secondary allows for big plays left and right. This team has talent and could be dangerous if the leadership were better. The Commanders catch a Tennessee Titans team at the wrong time.

The Titans have been tough to watch for the first two weeks of the season. Since then, the offense has played better and the defense is putting more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Going forward, the way they played the Colts last week should be their style of play. Make sure Ryan Tannehill doesn’t throw more than 25 to make mistakes and smash Derrick Henry to the ground.

Tennessee would be much better if the offense had more experienced wide receivers. That’s why AJ Brown’s trade hurts them so much. Robert Woods brings a veteran presence but is not their primary receiver. Treylon Burks was supposed to replace Brown, but he could miss this weekend with a turf toe. Tannehill and Brown’s visible connection has been difficult to replicate, so they have relied on the ground game more recently.

Both teams are statistically strong to defend the race. The Titans are 29th, giving opponents an average of 274 passing yards per game, and the Commanders are 24th. Wentz and Tannehill are able to return the ball.

Flip a coin, and there would be no argument over which team wins because the matchups are so close. Washington will win out of desperation as being at home gives a slight advantage. The final score could be 24-21.

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