The NFC East was highlighted in primetime in Week 8, with the Dallas Cowboys, predictably, getting a win on SNF, and the New York Giants, even more predictably, getting loss on MNF — although the Giants’ loss to the Chiefs was much closer than one might have expected. Still, the Giants and the Washington Football Team both fell to 2-6 last week, and the Eagles somehow managed to slide into second place in the division with their win over the (win-less) Lions.
Here’s a little bit about what happened around the NFC East in Week 8 and what’s in store for Week 9. (RELATED CONTENT: Check out the newest episode of The NFC East Mixtape, which lives on both the Bleeding Green Nation and Blogging The Boys podcast feeds.)
Dallas Cowboys (6-1)
The Cowboys are still very comfortably atop the NFC East, and were able to manage a win in Week 8 despite Dak Prescott being sidelined and Cooper Rush quarterbacking the offense. Dallas was the primetime event last week on Sunday Night Football but the stage wasn’t too big for Rush who finished the game 24-of-40 attempts for 325 yards, two touchdowns, and just one interception. His performance, which was his first career start and just his seventh game, was enough to get the 20-16 win over the Vikings.
Prescott is expected to be full-go at practice on Thursday and through the rest of the week as he comes back from a calf injury, but there’s still a few days before the Cowboys host the Broncos in Week 9. But whether it’s Prescott or Rush at quarterback, the team is still stacked and has been impressively successful at home this season.
Not only does Dallas have Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard crushing the ground game, but last week, WR Amari Cooper became the 8th player all-time with five-plus touchdowns in each of his first seven NFL seasons, and CeeDee Lamb is coming off his fifth-career 100-yard game against Minnesota. On defense, Trevon Diggs leads the NFL with seven interceptions and Micah Parsons set career highs last week with 11 total tackles and four tackles for loss.
New York Giants (2-6)
The Giants surprisingly put up more of a fight than expected in their Week 8 Monday Night Football matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, but still ended up losing 20-17.
In Week 9, the Giants will host the Raiders — who have continued to face a long list of off-field distractions and tragedies — but they might be without some of their top offensive weapons... again. Saquon Barkley (ankle) and Kenny Golladay (knee) are still working their way back from injuries, and both Dante Pettis (should) and Sterling Shepard (quad) didn’t practice on Wednesday.
In addition to the long list of injuries, the team is also dealing with a bit of a COVID problem, according to Ed Valentine of Big Blue View:
“Running back Saquon Barkley heads a list of three New York Giants players who did not practice on Wednesday due to COVID-19 protocol. Barkley was joined by safety Xavier McKinney and starting left guard Matt Skura.
Barkley and McKinney were both placed on the league’s Reserve/COVID-19 list. Ralph Vacchiano reports that both players tested positive for COVID-19 during Wednesday re-tests. Vacchiano adds that Barkley is vaccinated, so he simply needs two negative tests in a 24-hour period to return. McKinney’s vaccination status is unclear, possibly putting his availability for Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders in jeopardy.”
Still, as the season has progressed, there has been some improvements made on both sides of the ball. WR DeVontae Booker had a career-high 125 yards from scrimmage last week against the Chiefs, tight ends Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph each had their first receiving touchdown of the season, and CB Adoree Jackson tied his career high with 12 tackles.
Washington Football Team (2-6)
The Football Team suffered a loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 8, 17-10, and from missed kicks to poor play, what started as a promising season back in August, has absolutely collapsed into a pile of ‘What ifs’. There’s no question that the talent and potential is in that locker room, but failed execution and lack of direction continue to haunt the team.
Even the most optimistic Football Team fans are now wondering what the potential upside is for the team this year, according to Bill Hogan of Hogs Haven:
“It’s now the bye week. The team can rest up and heal up over the next 13 days, but, at this point, I’ve got to wonder if it really matters. Denver is one of the worst teams in the NFL, and Washington just managed to lose to them in a game in which Washington had drives of 9 plays - 56 yards, 11 plays - 56 yards, 10 plays - 41 yards, 10 plays - 94 yards, and 11 plays - 55 yards but only scored 10 points.
What’s gonna happen when they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in two weeks? Is there any reason to expect a better outcome?”
The Football Team might have a bye this week, but they are still making a bunch of roster moves, due to need and injury.
One of the toughest blows to the team was when center Chase Roullier was carted off the field in Week 8 with his leg in an air cast, and things got worse when it was announced that he had fractured his fibula and will go on IR and have season-ending surgery. And on defense, Washington will be without defensive end Montez Sweat for 4-6 weeks after he suffered a broken jaw against the Broncos.
In good news, the team was able to activate safety Darrick Forrest off IR, and they also expect to get tight end Logan Thomas back after the bye, resulting in the release of Jace Sternberger.