By Matthew Kaplan
After an enjoyable Thursday night victory for the Eagles over the division rival Giants, it was a very good Sunday afternoon for the other teams around the NFC East. The first game I am sure a lot of fans, and the Eagles players themselves, were paying very close attention to was the Eagles next opponent, the Carolina Panthers. They took a trip to Landover, Maryland to take on the Washington Redskins.
Despite missing one of their biggest weapons in Chris Thompson, the Redskins would play a solid game, controlling time of possession (35:24 to 24:36) and forcing three turnovers. The Redskins offense was led by the ageless Adrian Peterson. Ignoring the fact that Peterson’s numbers were not flashy, he was effective, running 17 times for a total of 97 yards (5.7 yards per carry). Between Peterson's running and Alex Smith's ability to play a turnover free game and finding both Vernon Davis and Paul Richardson in the end-zone, Washington would win the game, 23-17. The Redskins will try and keep the momentum from this win as they will prepare to host the division rival Cowboys next week.
The Panthers will come in to the Linc understanding that they need to run the ball more as running back Christian McCaffrey only carried the ball eight times for 20 yards. Without a running game, Newton does not have the weapons around him to carry this team to wins. Despite having Greg Olsen back in the lineup, they failed to build momentum and the offense seemed to struggle at points in the game.
Later in the day the Cowboys would host the Jaguars. This game would be one of the surprise results of the day as the Cowboys would blow the Jaguars away, 40 to 7. Despite Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette being out, most would have thought this was going to be a close defensive game decided by field goals. Instead, the Jags offense would struggle, having to rely on Blake Bortles without a running game. Jacksonville’s starting back, T.J Yeldon, and recently signed Jamaal Charles would combine to carry the ball 13 times for 46 yards. This was a big part of why the Cowboys controlled the game and possessed the ball for almost 39 minutes (64% of the game). The other reason this happened was the ability to find their number one receiver Cole Beasley. This is the first-time all season Prescott and Beasley connected on a regular basis as Beasley ended up with nine catches for 106 yards and one touchdown. Combine that with Elliot's expected weekly performance of 20+ carries for over 100 yards and the Cowboys offense was firing on all cylinders.
The Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins will all hope to take the positives from this week’s round of games in to next week as the division is still extremely tight at the top. With only the Giants "out of it", there is a lot of football still to play and it is looking more and more like the divisional games, like the Eagles-Giants game this week and Cowboys-Redskins next week will decide this division.
The Eagles, despite all their issues so far this season, have a winnable game this week before heading out to London next week. Five wins and three losses at the bye week is realistic and we should be able to get our season back on the path we expected coming in by the time the Cowboys come to Philadelphia week ten.