Not what you'd call a banner Sunday for the NFC East. Each of the three teams that were in action lost its game, leaving the Philadelphia Eagles as the division's only remaining hope for a Week 9 victory tonight in New Orleans. The new standings reflect that things aren't, generally, going very well division-wide in 2012. Links.
New York Giants (6-3)
Eli Manning's passer rating has dropped in each of the past four seasons. Steve Politi knows the significance of what he's saying, but he's saying it anyway: Manning on Sunday looked a lot like the much-maligned quarterback of New York's other NFL team, and he's too good to be putting up Mark Sanchez numbers.
Nothing doing in the Giants' running game this week. Again. After a nifty two-week flare-up in the games against the Browns and 49ers, the run game has fallen dormant again. Ahmad Bradshaw is banged-up and almost never practices anymore, and his frustration is obviously showing. With the passing game struggling uncharacteristically, the run-game struggles really show up. The whole Giants offense is in a slump, and while they've earned the benefit of the doubt, right now they're giving fans reasons to worry for the first time since Week 1.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
When Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that the NFL had voided Sean Payton's contract extension with the Saints, I offered my thoughts on the likelihood of Payton replacing Jason Garrett as head coach of the Cowboys. Jeff McLane offers his thoughts on the likelihood of Payton replacing Andy Reid as head coach of the Eagles. I still think the most likely scenario is that Payton re-signs in New Orleans. But you guys like this speculative stuff, so feel free to dive in.
Zach Berman went to tiny Yazoo City, Miss. to find out what he could about the town from which Eagles rookie defensive tackle Fletcher Cox hails and what his success has meant to the folks who live there. Very well-done Sunday feature that offers some insight into the Eagles' rookie and his background.
Dallas Cowboys (3-5)
Prior to the Cowboys' loss in Atlanta on Sunday night, team owner Jerry Jones said that questions about Garrett's job status didn't have "any basis at all." That's what he said before the game. And while I don't imagine a six-point road loss to an undefeated team changes that, I now you guys don't believe me when I say it, so there seems little point in arguing anymore. It suffices to say that Jones wants Garrett to be his coach and his is the only opinion that matters. When that opinion will change, no one knows.
Bryan Broaddus' initial analysis of the Cowboys' loss was that the Atlanta wide receivers were too physical for the Dallas cornerbacks and that inside linebacker Bruce Carter played a great game that went to waste. I thought the Dallas corners won a fair number of one-on-one matchups, but in general I (and the numbers) agree with Bryan that Atlanta's outstanding pair of wideouts came out ahead.
Washington Redskins (3-6)
Mike Wise makes a fine point in his column. It's fine for those of us whose job is to analyze this stuff objectively to say that this Redskins season is about developing players for next year and beyond. It's quite another thing -- and a jarring one -- to hear the team's head coach say it. I wasn't there, so I rely on the accounts of those who were. My guess is that Mike Shanahan really believed this season would be better in terms of wins and losses and is upset at the realization that it will not, and that it spilled over in the wake of another tough loss. I imagine he regrets saying what he said, and I wouldn't blame his players if they were upset that he said it.
You guys know I don't like to address officiating as an excuse for losses. I think complaining about officiating is like complaining about the weather. Nothing you can do about it, same for both sides. And I don't think the phantom-whistle call is the reason the Redskins lost. I think they had plenty of chances to win the game anyway. That said, I think they did get hosed on the DeAngelo Williams touchdown, and the officials' explanation felt very flimsy.