Raise your hand if you had both the Redskins and Cowboys winning yesterday…




Yeah, me neither.

The “NFC East sucks” narrative took a bit of a hit yesterday with home wins against above-average Carolina and Jacksonville teams. It also means the Eagles go into the week as the third place team in the division, level with Dallas at 3-3 while the ‘Skins advance to 3-2. The Giants are 1-5 and pretty much cooked.

I think the takeaway from the Dallas game is that their defense is legit. Blake Bortles and T.J. Yeldon are not offensive juggernauts, but the fact that the Cowboys held the Jags to seven points on the evening is really impressive in today’s point-heavy NFL.

The Cowboys out-gained Jacksonville 378 yards to 204 while holding a ridiculous 39 to 21 minute time of possession advantage on a 42 to 27 run/pass split. They really controlled the clock with the run game and forced four three and outs before coming up with an interception and fumble later in the game.

Defensively, here’s where Dallas ranks league-wide through six weeks:

  • 17.2 points per game (2nd)
  • 90.7 rush yards per game (7th)
  • 224.5 pass yards per game (8th)
  • 315.2 yards per game (5th)
  • 41.5% third downs allowed (20th)
  • 108 first downs allowed (10th)
  • 2 interceptions + 4 fumbles = 6 total takeaways (21st)

Pretty good overall. They’re keeping teams out of the end zone for the most part, even if they aren’t totally closing the door on third down or flipping the field with turnovers.

I still think the passing game is a huge weakness for Dallas, and even in yesterday’s win Dak Prescott completed just 17 of those 27 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. If a strong run defense limits Zeke Elliott and the Cowboys are forced to air it out while playing from behind, I don’t know that they have the firepower to be successful. Cole Beasley caught 9 passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns yesterday, but Geoff Swaim was the only other player to snag more than one pass.

On the season, here’s what their receiving corps has done:

A slot receiver, a tight end, a running back, and a utility guy that nobody knows how to use. Make me the offensive coordinator and I’ll get Tavon Austin rolling.

Anyway, not much to write home about there. The defense is very good and I would not look forward to DeMarcus Lawrence coming off the edge against the Eagles this season, but if the Birds can limit the Dallas ground game, I don’t see them doing much through the air. Feels like a game that’s going to be won in the trenches.


Two big plays from Josh Norman against his former team. The interception and forced fumble made the difference in a game that was decided by six points even though Washington was +3 in turnover margin. They used a not-100%-healthy Adrian Peterson and the running game to control the clock and limit Carolina opportunities. The Panthers were really disappointing overall.

Alex Smith had a Dak-like day, completing 21 of 36 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns. His completion percentage was a season-worst 58.3 and that number has steadily declined since he finished the first two games above 70%.

One of the reasons for that may be because he’s throwing the ball downfield a bit more now, which is a far cry from what he did in week one. That was the road win against a bad Arizona team, which was dump-down and swing pass city, featuring only one passing attempt that went further than 15 yards:

You see a lot of short and safe stuff there. “Game manager” types of passes, yeah?

Fast forward to week six, and there are more vertical throws on his charts.

He hit Vernon Davis on a 22-yard sluggo/seam touchdown toss and tried some stuff around 20 to 30 yards to his left, all of which were incomplete:

Similar to Dallas, the problem is that Washington doesn’t have a legit WR1 on the roster.

When you look down the receiving list, four of the top five receivers are a pair of tight ends and running backs:

That’s a boon for the Eagles. The best receiver in the division (Odell Beckham Jr.) plays for the worst team.

The Birds don’t play the Redskins until December, and again in the season finale, which may or may not be meaningless, so I don’t know if either team is going to look the same six weeks from now. It will, however, be interesting to see how Washington continues to evolve the passing game, if at all. Alex Smith can execute a short throwing game at a high level, which is something we’ve seen be effective against the Eagles in the past (Giants last year).

Washington gets Dallas at home this week, so we’ll learn a lot more about both squads after that one.