Week 9 serves up some big matchups for the NFC East. Every game is huge for the Giants, Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins. The losers are going to be really hurting, while the winner is going to either be coming off a big win or a season saving win. This is the time of year when teams start to establish themselves as contenders, start their second half run, or collapse altogether.
The Giants are that team that is looking to really establish themselves as the favorite in the NFC. They are 6-2 and undefeated outside of a division that may only send one playoff team this season. The Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins have big games that could make or break their season.
Here is a quick preview of this weekend’s games:
Carolina Panthers (1-6) at Washington Redskins (3-5)~
This is a big game for the Redskins. Not because the Carolina Panthers could become a future playoff opponent, but because this is a game they should easily win based on what these teams have accomplished this season. Carolina hasn’t won a game since Week 2 and has just five passing touchdowns on the season.
This is a game the Redskins can’t afford to lose if they want to make a run at the postseason. I don’t see too many one win teams on the Redskins schedule from here on out. A loss here would be too much for a 3-6 team to overcome with just seven games remaining. Expect some real urgency for a team with real playoff chances.
Redskins 23 Panthers 13
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) at New York Giants (6-2)~
It seems like the Giants have a tough matchup every week, but they keep rising to the challenge. This week they host the Steelers. These teams together have been in six Super Bowls since 2000, with four combined Lombardi Trophies since then and 10 total. These two franchises know how to build a consistent winning team. They have done it with a physical front on defense and a powerful running game. What has changed over the past few seasons has been the passing game. Both quarterbacks have a lot of speedy wideouts to stretch the defense.
Pittsburgh can win this game if they don’t let the Giants pass rush dictate their offense. That is always a big key against the Giants. They are going to get after your quarterback with just a four man rush and they are going to get sacks. What you can’t let happen is rushed throws that lead to turnovers because of the pass rush. If Pittsburgh runs a patient offense, they can really exploit a bad defense in the back seven.
Steelers 31 Giants 27
Dallas Cowboys (3-4) at Atlanta Falcons (7-0)~
The marquee matchup of the week is going to be The Falcons stud wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones against maybe the best cornerback of the Cowboys, Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. Last week Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie held Roddy White to just three catches for 38 yards and zero touchdowns. Julio Jones roasted Nnamdi Asomugha for over 100 yards and a touchdown, including a 63 yard touchdown.
That is the issue with Atlanta. You can shut down one wide out, but the other one will make up for it. Dallas has a good chance to contain both wide outs if they keep their safeties back. Eventually White will win a jump ball battle or Jones will gain a step on his man. If the safety is in position, you can really limit what these guys can do. Containing the outside passing game limits their entire offense. I like Dallas to get a big win. They always seem to win when you expect them to lose.
Cowboys 27 Falcons 16
Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) at New Orleans Saints (2-5)~
Has the NFL world ever been so interested in two teams that combine for a record of 5-9? Probably not. These teams are a little down right now, but they could turn it on at any moment and start playing up to their potential. The Saints defense has been record breaking bad while the Eagles keep finding new ways to lose. The Eagles problems are easier to fix. They have their coaching staff intact and have been more sloppy than anything else.
Darren Sproles is a difference maker and the Saints’ X factor, but he will be out for Monday night’s game. That changes everything. He is a dangerous return man and the best dump off receiver in the game. His loss will really hurt the Saints passing offense.
For the Eagles, they have to get their offensive in gear early in this one. The Saints are a bad defense, but they will score points on anyone. Slow starts lead to blowouts against the Saints. As long as that doesn’t happen, the very hungry Eagles should get back to .500 this week.
Eagles 30 Saints 13