WASHINGTON — It’s not a banner year for the NFC East.
In fact, this could go down as one of the worst seasons ever for the league’s all- time most productive division. On Sunday, all four teams in the NFC East lost in the same week — the second time this season that’s happened.
It was pretty ugly all around, too. Despite a pretty good 8-6 record, the Philadelphia Eagles sport a defense that got gashed for 48 points by a backup QB (Matt Cassell), a receiver that’s looked old all season (Greg Jennings) and a third string running back (Matt Asiata).
Then the 7-7 Dallas Cowboys lost to Green Bay despite holding a 23 point halftime lead. Folks, that’s a franchise first and the greatest choke in Cowboys history. Tony Romo threw a late pick, the historically bad defense probably just got Matt Flynn another crack at a starting gig elsewhere and Dez Bryant did his best Randy Moss impersonation both on and off the field. Oh, and did I mention Jason Garrett’s notorious decision-making was again called into question?
The 5-9 New York Giants had the toughest task of all — a Seattle Seahawks squad that many (myself included) assume will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Regardless of the challenge, Eli Manning — your two-time Super Bowl MVP QB — shouldn’t get picked off a whopping five times (to bring his league-leading total to 25) or get blanked at home for the first time in close to a decade.
And the Washington Redskins … oh, those 3-11 ‘Skins. I spent the three hours before kickoff keeping up with the assorted rumors ranging from Mike Shanahan’s contract situation and his son Kyle’s hatred for the cafeteria food in Ashburn. It was even worse after kickoff as the Redskins coughed the ball up a mind-numbing seven times in a loss to a Falcons team that was equally as putrid.
I see potential for this to devolve even more. There’s a strong possibility the Redskins, Cowboys and Giants will all be looking for new coaches next month, and there’s an outside chance Philly might too if Texas makes Chip Kelly an offer he can’t refuse. Even though the ‘Skins and Giants could stand to press the reset button, there’s no guarantee the new direction will be a good one.
Don’t forget the QB situations. Washington might be pining for the days of Sonny v. Billy once this RGIII v. Capt. Kirk saga runs its course. Foles looks good now, but so did RG3 this time last year. Eli Manning turns 33 next month and Romo will be 34 in the spring, meaning their days as effective starters are coming to a end.
Frequent WTOP contributor Chris Chase makes a compelling argument for why hings in the NFC East perhaps aren’t as bad as they seem. His points are all quite sound, but it’s also worth pointing out that success in the NFL is cyclical. The NFC East has made at least three title appearances in every full decade of the Super Bowl Era. That’s an outstanding run, especially when you consider no other division can touch their combined 12 Lombardi Trophies all-time.
So after that great run, the football gods will likely see fit to inflict this division with famine and pestilence over the next decade or so. Even teams with a strong front office and ownership like the Giants and Eagles can suffer a setback if injuries and the quarterback situations don’t break their way. The Redskins and Cowboys are already doomed to mediocrity because of their respective owners.
We’ll always have the ’80s and ’90s, right?
Now let’s recap Week 15:
Give that San Diego defense credit. Holding this Denver squad to 20 points is like a shutout against anyone else.
In the battle of the two most disappointing teams in the NFC, Mike Shanahan made the benevolent gesture of going for a two-point conversion and the win rather than a game tying extra point on their final possession to save us all from more of this crappy brand of football. He should win coach of the year just for sparing us any further exposure to Sam Rosen and Heath Evans.
The man from Santa Claus, Ind. was back passing out Pick 6s like Old Saint Nick passes out toys, and the Chicago defense was there to bail him out with a little help from Devin Hester. Good to see Jay Cutler back.
Houston is 0-12 all-time in Indianapolis. Given the current trajectory of both teams, that 0 is probably going to remain intact for a long time.
In case you missed it, Miami has won three straight now that the Richie Incognito fiasco has died down. Now that feel good stories are replacing the dramatic ones, don’t be surprised to see them lock down a wild card spot in the top heavy AFC.
This game almost tanked my fantasy season. Adrian Peterson and his handcuff Toby Gerhart both out, and I didn’t think enough of Matt Asiata to pick him up. Three TDs later, I regret choosing Chris Ogbannaya, instead.
Memo to Tom Coughlin: that wasn’t just pathetic offense. That was a fireable offense.
And this won’t be Seattle’s last appearance at MetLife Stadium. They’ll be back for Super Bowl XLVIII.
When you score a touchdown in the NFL, it’s always wise to be mindful of the wall. It looks padded, but it’ll really mess your day up if you’re not careful.
Much respect to Stevie Johnson for playing a day after learning of his mother’s death. I know the pain of losing a parent, and I wouldn’t have been able to perform the next day. Condolences to Johnson and his family.
The line for KC’s Jamaal Charles: 16 touches, 215 total yards and five TDs. He’s also the first player in NFL history with four receiving TDs and a rushing TD. After a defensive effort like that, no wonder Oakland’s ownership is preaching “Commitment to Patience.”
This is Carolina’s first 10-win season since 2008 and can clinch the division by running the table. The way they’re playing now, I wouldn’t bet against them.
And Jets fans, be careful what you wish for. I know you were hoping you were getting the next Joe Namath when you drafted Geno Smith, but I’m sure tying his team record five Pick 6s in a season wasn’t what you had in mind.
Green Bay is still in the playoff picture and could be getting Aaron Rodgers back for the stretch run. This should scare the Bears and Lions.
Titans 34 (OT)
I hate to use the term “Team of Destiny,” but Carson Palmer has a 106.0 QB rating in his last seven games and Arizona appears to be way better than the 2008 team that upset its way to the Super Bowl. The Cardinals close out the season with a trip to Seattle next week and a key season finale in the desert against the 49ers, so we’re about to find out.
Drew Brees is 2-4 all-time against the Rams and has thrown multiple interceptions in all six of those games. It’s easy to chalk this up as New Orleans overlooking an underachieving St. Louis team the week before Round 2 against the Panthers, but it’s also possible the Rams are showing signs they could be the turnaround team of 2014.
Bad news for Cincy: They blew a shot at clinching the AFC North by getting beat in Pittsburgh. Good news for Cincy: Their last two games are favorable matchups at home, where they’re 6-0 this season.
Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker — the only source of offense — had a record night, the Ravens defense held Megatron out of the end zone, and (the rookie who poked the (Detroit) Lion came up with a big interception to close out the win. This was a 2000 kinda win for Charm City.
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