Football is a game of seconds and inches. Victory and defeat can hinge on a single play, a single quarter, or one player’s performance. In the NFC East in Week 6, two-thirds of the teams found success, while another had some serious deficiencies exposed on national television. The division’s most troubled team lost a key offseason acquisition on Thursday that could spell doom for the remainder of the season.
The NFC East has surprised many sports writers and fans alike this season as one of the most competitive divisions in the National Football League, and that isn’t likely to change as we enter the final two-thirds of the regular season.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (6-0, 2-0 division)
NFL Rank per NFL.com: 2 (no change)
Week 6 Result: 26-17 Win at Dallas Cowboys
The Eagles faced off what is supposed to be one of the most dangerous defenses in the entire league on Sunday Night Football. They used a combination of stellar play-calling and star talent to render the opposing defensive unit ineffective through most of the game. Still clinging to an unbeaten record, the Eagles are playing like they may be the most complete team in 2022.
Jalen Hurts is emerging as a true star franchise quarterback under Nick Siriani. Hurts has been given the keys to the van and is operating like an elite QB, taking advantage of a Dallas offense that was in the giving mood on Sunday.
The Eagles scored 20 points in the second quarter on Sunday after the defense secured two interceptions and forced a turnover on downs, then managed the game until the final whistle to secure win No.6.
2. Dallas Cowboys (4-2, 2-1 division)
NFL.com Rank: 6 (+4)
Week 6 Result: 26-17 Loss vs. Philadelphia Eagles
It isn’t often that a team will climb the power rankings while losing a tough division game, but that is the state of the Dallas Cowboys in 2022.
It appears all but certain that the Cooper Rush era will come to a close this week as quarterback Dak Prescott is expected to be medically cleared and has been throwing in practice. Prescott’s return comes at the right time for the Cowboys, who are still very much in the thick of things in the NFC East.
The biggest surprise on Sunday was the game plan executed by the Eagles to address the Dallas defense.
Normally, this unit flies around with the crazed energy of a bunch of frat boys led by linebacker Micah Parsons and a misfit group of characters equally capable of ruining the fun for offenses. But the Eagles managed to largely neutralize the threat using a combination of run-pass option plays, designated QB runs, and short checkdown passes that prevented the linebackers from moving up to challenge the line.
Parsons was held to seven tackles overall, no sacks, and only one tackle for loss, though the Dallas defense did manage to bring down Jalen Hurts four times in the game.
Dallas travels to Detroit to face the Lions on Sunday.
3. New York Giants (5-1, 0-1 division)
NFL.com Rank: 7 (+6)
Week 6 Result: 24-20 Win vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Giants are starting to make some noise as they have routinely found ways to climb back from deficits and win tough games. Sunday was an example of how this team is responding under first-year head coach Brian Daboll, and the results were impressive.
Quarterback Daniel Jones was efficient, hitting two touchdowns and protecting the ball, while running back Saquan Barkley is pounding turf like it’s 2020 all over again.
The Giants benefited from several serious miscues by the Ravens, including a fourth-quarter interception thrown by Lamar Jackson that set up Barkley for the go-ahead game-winning touchdown.
While their 5-1 record is the second-best in the NFC East, the Giants also have one of the easiest schedules this season. Their only loss came at the hands of the division-rival Dallas Cowboys. Until Big Blue can demonstrate that it can win against the front-runners in the NFC East, this will be a team on the cusp of greatness.
The Giants will travel to Florida to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
4. Washington Commanders (2-4, 0-2 division)
NFL.com Rank: 30 (no change)
Week 5 Result: 12-7 Win at Chicago
When Carson Wentz smacked his ring finger on the helmet of a Bears player, it sent a spasm of pain through the nation’s capital. Wentz may not be the long-term answer for the Commanders, but he is almost certainly an upgrade over Taylor Heinicke, who will get the start this week and for four to six weeks going forward.
Thursday Night Football has been characterized by low-scoring, defensive-minded games this season, and this week was no different, as the two teams each scored one touchdown in a game that featured lots of punting action.
Washington forced the Bears into a punt and two turnovers on downs in the fourth quarter to seal up the win. Neither the Bears nor the Commanders are playing fun-to-watch football right now, but there is still plenty of season remaining. It remains to be seen if Heinicke can step up for Washington this year after posting a career-high 65% completion ratio in 15 starts last season.
At 2-4 and not having faced the bulk of the division, Washington isn’t dead in the water yet, but the clock is running, and they are out of timeouts.
Washington hosts the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.