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A Look Around the NFL - NFC East

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There are already some surprises, both good and bad out of the NFL in 2014. Let’s get caught up on what everyone else has been doing while the Bolts are getting a much needed rest. By osmosis, I know more about the NFC East than I do any other division except for the AFC West. Let's start there.

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Eagles

The theme for the Eagles this season is "living dangerously". After going 3-0 with all of the wins coming after being down BIG at half time, the Eagles finally managed to get a half time lead in Santa Clara in week 4 and then lost the game. The have gone 3-1 in the last four weeks The living dangerously theme has extended to injuries on the offensive line, their starting MLB (DeMeco Ryans) and certainly not the least, starting QB Nick Foles. While the team is 6-2, the cheesesteaks don’t taste quite as good today as they did in late September.

What to Watch For

The 3 game run starting at Dallas on Thanksgiving, home against the Seahawks on 12/7, and hosting the Cowboys on 12/14. If the Eagles can run that table, the division is probably theirs. Also, with Foles gone for the next 6 games at least, how does "the Sanchize" (Mark Sanchez) do as the starting QB? How does a depleted offensive line keep Chip Kelly’s Ferrari offense from turning into a Yugo? Will the philly defense get tougher or remain soft and spreadable for the rest of 2014?

Fun Fact

AJ Smith’s last draft choice as Chargers GM was David Molk. Cut by the Bolts in August 2013, for the last few weeks he has been the Eagles starting Center.

Cowboys

Somebody in Dallas figured out how to use the offensive line that has received 3 of the last 4 1st round picks to actually help them win games. The ‘boys have embraced running the ball and it is paying dividends. The surprise so far is that the defense shows some flashes of mediocre to above average; this is improvement over the consistently awful play for all of 2013.

The Cowboys were worried about Romo’s back going into the season. His latest back injury (two small fractures of vertebrae) has nothing to do with the previous conditions that required surgery. Romo’s back problems are summed up in the statement that he apparently CAN easily catch a break in that part of his body. While the Cowboys are 6-3 right now, they have 4 remaining divisional games, 3 of which are on the road. The North Texas faithful, and I work with and live around many of them, really do not trust this team to seal the deal and get into the playoffs this year.

What to Watch For

December 28, 2014. Since 2011, the Cowboys have arrived at the last game of the season needing one more win against an NFC East opponent to win the division. For three straight years, to three different NFC East teams, those teams have played Wellington’s English Army to Jerry Jones’ Napoleon at Waterloo. This year, the ‘boys have to play hated rival Washington in the nation's capitol. Also, if this team will accomplish anything, it will have to be road warrior style. Only two of the 'boys remaining 7 games are in Jerry World.

Fun Fact

Rolando McClain, the final first round pick of the late Al Davis, a man that chose retirement in after the 2012 season than play one more game for Oakland, is the 3rd leading tackler this season for the Cowboys. After being out of football in 2013, he is being given a lot credit for the improved defense this season.

Washington

Any hope that Kirk Cousins could keep this team above water were dashed in two back to back pick fests on the way to an ugly loss and a near loss to the Titans. Cousins, who started to visibly resemble a rabbit in close proximity to a large growling dog in those games, may be done in Washington. A more interesting speculation is whether RGIII has a long term future in DC. There are rumors that he is not respected in the locker room and that Jay Gruden does not believe he is a good fit for his offense.

At 3-6 and ravaged by injuries, 2014 looks like a lost season for the Redskins. Of course, if RGIII keeps breaking, that playoff run in 2012 may not be repeated for quite some time.

What to Watch For

How RGIII functions under the tutelage of Jay Gruden and Sean McVay. A lot of the Redskins were brought in to work in Mike Shanahan’s offense and are simply not a good fit for Gruden. If that extends to the QB position, this team could be a dumpster fire for another few years.

Fun Fact

Colt McCoy and Robert Griffin III played against each other once in college, when McCoy’s University of Texas Longhorns demolished the Griffin led Baylor Bears 45-21 at home in Austin. Griffin was named 2008 "freshman of the year" in the Big 12 that year.

Giants

Give Tom Coughlin credit; before standing pat for a possible 3rd bad season in a row, the old dog decided to try new tricks. The Giants adopted a more Spread / Pro-hybrid type of offense that looks a lot like what the Bolts were running last year than the Glibride vertical game that looked a lot like Norval’s system. The change got off to a rocky start in the first two games, but then a funny thing happened on the way to the 2015 draft clock…

The offense started working and at the start of October with a 3-2 record, the Giants looked like they might actually be relevant again. Then the injury bug bit and bit HARD. The team is now in a losing streak (3 games and counting), badly undermanned and the next 3 games are against really tough teams (at Seattle, home against the niners, and home against the Cowboys.

What to Watch For

Eli’s progress in a new system that he does not seem to fit all that well. Also, can this team play spoiler to Philly and Dallas? Finally, how warm Coach Coughlin’s seat gets if the losing continues.

Fun Fact

Ryan Nassib has a higher QB rating (116.7) than Eli Manning (94.9) this season. Nassib threw 5 passes in a garbage time loss earlier this season, completing 4 of them for 60 yards.