Eagles at Giants: The Giants won the first half of the season in the NFC East. After Week 8, they held 2.5 game leads on the Eagles and Cowboys, with a full 3 game lead on the Redskins, including a head to head advantage. In the second half of the season, they’ve often been a train wreck. Here are the standings in the NFC East up to Week 8, and then from Week 8 on:
Four of those five second half losses were very ugly:
- The scoreboard may have said 24-20 at home against a very overrated Steelers team, but the Giants were thoroughly outplayed that day. The run defense simply couldn’t stop slow-footed RB Isaac Redman in the 4th quarter, even when they knew the run was coming.
- They lost 31-13 (it was 31-6 after the 3rd quarter) to a Bengals team that only put up 275 yards of offense on the day. It wasn’t like the Bengals were some great team that afternoon. The Giants just couldn’t stop making huge mistakes.
- The Falcons game (34-0) was little more than a party for Atlanta fans in the Georgia dome.
- And finally, the Ravens game was the worst of them all. Certainly, the Seahawks-Cardinals 58-0 blowout was likely more lopsided, and I’m sure the Packers’ 55-7 drubbing of the Titans last week was probably worse. I didn’t watch those games in full, so I don’t know for sure how this game stacks up, but the 33-14 final score was one of the biggest lies of the season. The Ravens outgained the Giants 533-186. The Ravens ran 81 plays. The Giants ran 45. The Ravens had 25 first downs. The Giants had 11.The Ravens ran for 224 yards on the ground. The Giants ran for 67. The Ravens had the ball for almost 40 minutes. It was just a complete zero performance from the Giants one week after another complete zero.
If you took just the last two weeks, showed them to an alien visiting from Marklar who had no prior knowledge of teams around the NFL, that alien would identify the Giants as the worst team in the league.
The Giants need this game to keep their slim playoff chances alive. However, the “need” for wins hasn’t exactly translated into good Giants football over the last two months. Meanwhile, the Eagles, while obviously not a good team in their own right these days, haven’t been awful the last 5 weeks. Eagles win, officially putting and end to the Giants’ season and messing up their draft position in the process. I’ll liken this kind of win to the final scene in Friday, after Craig takes care of Deebo, Red comes in and gets one last shot in on the incapacitated bully (4:22 mark). Eagles fans get meaningless bragging rights for sweeping the Giants and Andy Reid gets carried off the field as several Eagles’ linemen suffer various back injuries and/or hernias. 16-13.
Cowboys at Redskins: Back on Thanksgiving, here is what the Redskins did on drives in the 2nd quarter:
I went back and watched those 4 drives, and they were basically a microcosm of everything that has worked for the Skins this season offensively: A little read option, a swing pass to the WR who was originally lined up in the backfield, runs up the middle out of the Pistol, play action over the top for the huge gain, a few patented 10 yard slants, a goal line power run, a sprint boot, and all kinds of broken tackles with yards after the catch. Of the 20 plays the Skins ran in that span, the Cowboys “won” just two plays. They sacked RG3 for a loss of about 2, and Morris Claiborne blew up a quick screen to a WR. But otherwise, everything worked.
That Cowboys team was much healthier than the one that will face the Skins today in Landover. The following is a list of Cowboys defenders that saw action last week against the Saints, and how many snaps they tallied. These are the kinds of players that if you’re the Redskins, you’re going to look across the line of scrimmage and know you’re going to have clear matchup advantages:
The Cowboys couldn’t stop the Redskins on Thanksgiving, and unless the Redskins shoot themselves in the foot, I just don’t see how they’ll stop them today.
It’s more than a little bit noteworthy that Tony Romo has been excellent recently, while Dez Bryant has emerged as one of the best playmaking WRs in the game this season. Meanwhile, Jason Witten has certainly proven that he’s not done producing in the NFL. It should also be noted that DeMarco Murray did not play on Thanksgiving and the difference between Murray and Felix Jones can’t be overstated enough. So I certainly don’t want to dismiss the Cowboys’ offense, which is also plenty capable of putting up points.
But I just trust the Redskins more than any other team in the NFC East right now. Wait, did I just type that?
Skins, even in the bad conditions, put up 30+. 38-20.