Washington has the edge in the NFC East race
There will be a winner in the turtle derby that is the NFC East race. And even though none of the four teams can get above the .500 mark, there is one with a clear edge.
The Dallas Cowboys are 3-8 and are still in contention to win the division. Try not to laugh. The Philadelphia Eagles, with a 3-7-1 record, are also right there.
The New York Giants and Washington Football Team are both 4-7, but the Giants hold the tiebreaker, with a better head-to-head record. That said, Washington holds an advantage heading into the stretch drive.
Washington's defense could be the difference
Washington’s defensive front served notice once again that it is a force.
Washington dominated the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. It was a close game on the scoreboard, before Washington ran away with it in the fourth quarter. That defensive line, led by stud rookie Chase Young, was in Andy Dalton’s face all day, and they held Dallas to a measly 61 rushing yards.
Washington has allowed the second-fewest passing yards in the league (2,141) and it is tied for the second-highest number of sacks in the league this year. Only Pittsburgh has more sacks.
The defensive group has allowed an average of 22 points per game, and if it continues to limit teams, particularly in the passing game, it could give the Washington offense the necessary support to claim the division.
Could injuries impact New York’s chances?
The Giants will face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Seattle’s defense has struggled for most of the season, but has shown signs of improvement, and now there is the possibility it could face New York’s backup quarterback.
Colt McCoy might start Sunday, according to numerous reports, as Daniel Jones tries to work back from a hamstring injury.
Dating back to 2012, McCoy has started seven games, all with Washington, before he made the move to the Giants in 2020. He has struggled to produce at the standard expected from a starter.
So this division may come down to Jalen Hurts, Alex Smith, Andy Dalton and Colt McCoy!?— Evan Roberts (@EvanRobertsWFAN) November 29, 2020
Seattle’s offense is among the most dynamic in the NFL, which presents a challenge for any defense. The challenge could be magnified if McCoy is forced into starting duty, as the Giants would likely struggle to keep pace.
Upcoming schedules for main contenders
Washington will have its work cut out over the next three weeks.
The Football Team will face the Steelers on Monday to close out Week 13, followed by a pair of games against NFC West opponents. They'll start on the road in Week 14, against a still-dangerous San Francisco 49ers squad, and will host the Seahawks in Week 15.
Washington will close the season against the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles, two winnable contests, so it is imperative the Football Team gets at least one win over that three-game stretch against Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Seattle.
The Giants will host the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14. The Cardinals are also vying for an NFC playoff spot. Then they'll get a home game against the potentially playoff-bound Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens in Week 15 and 16. The easiest part of their remaining schedule is the final week, when they host the Cowboys.
Eagles and Cowboys still technically alive
We don’t want to count out the Eagles and Cowboys, but it’s difficult to see a path forward for them.
The Cowboys took two steps back with their loss to Washington on Thanksgiving, after positive signs in a victory the week before against Minnesota. Dalton once again struggled, Mike McCarthy had some costly decisions, and the run game could not gain traction.
The Eagles need to settle their issues at quarterback before they can even think of winning another game.
Carson Wentz had another tough outing last week, this time against the Seahawks on Monday Night Football. Philadelphia got the backdoor cover as a 6.5-point underdog, but its offense struggled all night against Seattle’s defense.