NFC East Round-Up: Eagles still have an edge but can’t afford to get complacent

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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) throwing the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

No team in the NFC East has repeated as division champions since the Philadelphia Eagles in 2003-04. Over two decades of a new champion is highlighted by three Super Bowl titles and four appearances during that stretch.

Perhaps this is the season that ends the streak though.

Philadelphia has a two-game lead in the division in the middle of November. An 8-1 mark has been the highlight of a year dominated by strong quarterback play and an impressive pass rush. As good as the Eagles have looked this season though, they aren’t running away towards another division title or top seed in the NFC.

Today, we take a look at the entire NFC East and see which team should be considered the favorite going into the home stretch run of the 2023 regular season.

Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)

People will look for anyone else to name as an MVP candidate but Jalen Hurts is certainly making the case after Sunday’s slate. While top players like Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow had major hiccups, Hurts has been the best player on the team with the best record in football. Nothing more to it. As of the halfway point of the season, Hurts should be the MVP favorite.

As good as Hurts has been, the Eagles are a flawed team like everyone else. Their secondary lacks chemistry, injuries along the offensive line are a problem, and the middle of the field is a major concern.

Despite all that, the Eagles have beaten teams that are over .500 and can win in different ways. This is still the most dangerous team in the NFL and NFC as a whole.

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni reacts to a play during the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Dallas Cowboys (6-3)

It’s pretty simple. The Cowboys remain Philadelphia’s toughest competition in both the NFC East, and the entire NFC as a whole. The Eagles’ 28-23 win was among the hardest the team has had all year while Dallas remains a matchup concern for the organization. While the Eagles may have a two-game lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker over their rival, there are still eight games left in the season.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) tries to gain extra yardage for a first down during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Once more, Dallas’ recent stretch of games is more a cakewalk than the gauntlet the Eagles are currently running through. To compare:

Dallas next 3 opponents:

@ Panthers

vs. Washington

vs. Seahawks

Eagles next 3 opponents:

@ Kansas City

vs. Buffalo

vs. San Francisco

If the Eagles were to slip up in this stretch (or any other of their two games following) the schedule is open for the Cowboys to take command back from the NFC East. The Cowboys have destroyed bad teams on their schedule and have made it look relatively easy. While their 1-2 record against teams over .500 puts everything into perspective for the time being, this is still a team that can dominate good teams and can make a deep playoff run.

Washington Commanders (4-6)

There’s reason to be excited if you are a Commanders fan this season. Sam Howell has looked very solid in his first full year as a starter, the defensive line is still very good, and a new coaching staff will have plenty of draft capital to improve the roster going forward.

Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera, left, watching Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) greeting Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell (14) at the end of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Landover, Md. Eagles won 38-31. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Until then though, Washington will have to compete for the seventh seed with some tough matchups in front of them. Howell may lead the league in yards passing but with upcoming contests against the Cowboys, Dolphins, and 49ers, it could be hard for Ron Rivera to save his job with a potential playoff berth.

Outside of that though, a 4-6 record isn’t as bad as it seems for this organization that is turning over a new leaf.

New York Giants (2-8)

There hasn’t been a bigger disappointment in the NFL this season than the G-Men. Picked by many to reach the playoffs for the second straight season, New York has been hit with the injury bug and sophomore slump from its coaching staff.

Bills vs giants eagles
New York Giants running back Jashaun Corbin (25) celebrates his touchdown run during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the New York Jets, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

They have the worst point differential in the game, they are on to their third-string quarterback, and it doesn’t look like anything will get better this season. While they will certainly be in the Caleb Williams-Drake Maye sweepstakes come April, it’s going to be a rough rest of the year for Big Blue.

Despite their struggles, the Giants hold the key to the division race – even if they aren’t aware. New York has played, and lost spectacularly, to the Cowboys twice. Philadelphia gets New York twice the rest of the year. Those are two wins that the organization should be getting late in the year to help boost their division and conference prospects. The Cowboys, while in the middle of an easy stretch, will not get a team like the Giants after this week.

AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough