Here’s the need-to-know news around the NFC East for this week.
Before DeMarcus Lawrence chokes anyone out and before Washington embroils itself in another controversy, let’s talk NFC East.
So yes, let’s talk mediocrity and parity.
Just one game separates them.
All three were dead and buried by doubters quite recently — and rightfully so. But here they are with five games remaining.
So who will win it? Or maybe more accurately, who won’t lose it?
Some answers finally come this week. Tonight, the Cowboys host the hottest team in the NFL in the New Orleans Saints (10-1). And then on Monday night, the Eagles host the Redskins.
So maybe they don’t need a “complete overhaul” in Dallas, as Troy Aikman suggested just before the Cowboys kicked off their three-game winning streak.
Maybe Washington isn’t dead despite losing Alex Smith.
So here are some of the biggest stories around the NFC East for this week:
The Cowboys are ready for Drew Brees and the Saints, who boast the NFL’s fifth-ranked offense (416.6 yards per game) and the top-ranked run defense (73.2). At least, that’s the impression Lawrence gave this week.
”They’re going to have to match our intensity. For 60 minutes straight. If you hit a [team (not what he really said)] in the mouth and then they ain’t doing what they’re regularly doing, putting up 50 points, they start to get a little distressed. Now you got them where you want them at, and then you choke their ass out.”
The Cowboys probably can’t play a track meet type game with the Saints, but the offense is rejuvenated since Amari Cooper arrived in a trade from Oakland.
His impact cannot be overstated, writes Blogging the Boys’ Michael Sisemore. Forget the eight receptions for 180 yards and two TDs against Washington on Thanksgiving. His impact on QB Dak Prescott is the real measure of his successful arrival.
However, the Cowboys again could be without All-Pro LT Tyron Smith, who suffered a stinger in the Nov. 18 win over Atlanta, writes Blogging the Boys’ Dave Halprin and RJ Ochoa. He likely will be a game-time decision.
He again could be replaced by Cam Fleming.
Starting guards Zack Martin and Xavier Su’a-Filo are also questionable, although they should play.
Meanwhile, DT David Irving, who has been out since October with a high-ankle sprain, is also dealing with an off-the-field personal issue that force him to miss meetings and practices, writes Ochoa. Irving was suspended for Dallas’ first four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. It was the second consecutive season that Irving began on the suspended list, missing the first four games in 2017 for violating the league’s performance enhancing drugs policy.
The season appeared to be a complete loss.
Then the Giants came to the Linc.
Now suddenly the defending champions have life.
No, the Eagles were never as bad as they looked at times. But how good can they be?
GM Howie Roseman deserves some credit for the team’s resilience. It faced Carson Wentz’s recovery from a torn ACL, among a number of other injuries. And he made a wise move in trading for Michael Bennett last spring, writes Bleeding Green Nation’s John Stolnis. Bennett leads the team with 6.5 sacks, including 5.5 in his past six games.
And Philadelphia has stayed tough, as displayed by LB Nigel Bradham, who did not miss a single snap on Sunday despite breaking his thumb.
This is some gamble. And it is some distraction.
Less than 72 hours after LB Reuben Foster was arrested over the weekend at the team hotel for suspicion of domestic battery and then released by the San Francisco 49ers, Washington claimed the troubled 2017 first-round pick on waivers.
Just three days later. After an arrest at the 49ers team hotel. After an incident with the same woman who alleged and later recanted domestic violence allegations against him earlier this year.
And it comes right before a huge division game on Monday night. It begs the questions: Why? and What are they thinking?
Even with Foster placed on the commissioner’s exempt list after the league stepped in, and even if he successfully graduates “through numerous steps,” as the Redskins claim he will have to, why?
Washington was the only team to put in a waiver claim for Foster.
Foster is the same man who was arrested in February and charged with felony domestic violence. Despite his accuser recanting her story from the first incident, he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor weapons charge related to it.
In January, he also was arrested for marijuana possession. The charge was eventually dismissed after he completed a first-time offender diversion course.
The Foster claim comes on the heels of S D.J. Swearinger questioning his teammates’ preparation — first after the Thanksgiving loss to Dallas and again on Monday during his weekly radio spot.
He also said he plans to address the matter in the locker room this week.
”A lot of guys just walk through that Saturday as if that Saturday doesn’t mean much. When we have our walk-throughs on Saturdays, I feel like it’s a joke to me. With the amount of focus that we have, with the amount of playing that we have, the amount of lack of discipline that we have on those Saturdays and Fridays, on days where I feel like we should be tuned in.”