With Week 9 now in the books, every NFC East team has now played half their games this season; and it’s Dallas clear at the top. This seems like a good time to have a half term reports where we grade how each team has done this season. So who’s the teacher’s pet, and who’s in for extra homework this season?
Dallas Cowboys, 7-1, Grade: A+
This one is fairly easy with the Cowboys, they’ve surpassed all expectations with rookie tandem calling the shots in Dak Prescott & Ezekiel Elliot and lead the way, not only in the East, but in the whole NFC with a 7-1 record. Zeke leads the NFL in Rushing averaging over 100 yards per game, as the figurehead of the Cowboys offence this season. Almost everything goes through Elliot right now, allow the Cowboys to dictate the game and maintain possession for long periods of time in a game. The only way the Cowboys will not win the division is if a Romo nursing injury can’t replicate previous glory and Dak loses his form when he’s put back in. But I can’t see that happening; especially as now Jerry Jones appears to be keeping Dak for the rest of the season, whilst keeping Romo behind after-school for the extra homework. A minimum of 11 wins is the target now and they’ll fly through the NFL school with flying colours. A+.
Washington Redskins, 4-3-1, Grade: B
A solid start for the Redskins leaves them with more wins than losses after their bye, and a once daunting second half schedule that contains the Vikings, Packers, Cardinals and Panthers; seems a bit easier and are right in the hunt for an NFC Wildcard spot. In a similar way to last season, the Redskins are the most consistent team, and least likely to implode of the three teams below Dallas in the NFC East right now; although someone ought to tell Dustin Hopkins that after his FG miss. This next 4 game stretch could be the defining run of games, Kirk Cousins will need to stay hot after he was sub-par at the start of the season, as with 3 of the 4 games will be against teams expected to be in and around the wildcard spots come the end of the season, so getting a W over them now would be huge. Get some revision done before exam period Week 17 and they may well be in the hunt for top marks. B.
Philadelphia Eagles, 4-4, Grade: B-
After shocking the entire NFL with their 3-0 start to the season, Carson Wentz and his Eagles team are struggling to keep up with the rest of the class lately, losing 2 straight to the Cowboys and Giants. But on the whole this season so far has exceeded expectations of a lot of fans, especially after they traded away veteran Quarterback Sam Bradford, thrusting Carson Wentz into the starting role. The defence is currently a top 6 unit in the whole of the NFL, probably surpassing even their higher expectations, perhaps most impressively holding a potent Pittsburgh Steelers offence to just 3 points back in Week 3. If they can finish at around 8-8, this season should be considered a success on the whole; with a huge potential afoot with Wentz only bound to get better. Keep working hard and they’ll be acing all future examinations. B-.
New York Giants, 5-3, Grade: C+
This one maybe slightly controversial given how they’re 5-3 and in the 5th seed for the NFC playoffs as things stand; with a relatively tame schedule coming up. But has anyone been really impressed by the Giants this year? Their largest margin of victory was the 7 point win they had over the Rams, and the Rams have reverted to their usual 7-9 Jeff Fisher special; doing everything to NOT win that game at Twickenham. With all the money that they spent on the defensive line, and their Wide Receivers corpse after Beckham the healthiest it’s been for a while, there were certainly loftier expectations in terms of performance level. I guess in the end in doesn’t matter how you win, as long as you do win; but in my view things look ready to head south at any minute and 8-8 would likely been seen as a failure for this team this season. C+.