Through three games, three of four NFC East teams are 2-1, something no other division in football can say (although Green Bay can add the NFC North to that list with a win tonight).
The teams in the division have gotten to where they are by different paths.
The New York Giants (2-1) fell flat on Opening Night, but have rebounded to win in a shootout in Week 2 and in a good, old-fashioned whipping this past week.
The Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) won a pair of 1-point victories despite a plethora of turnovers in the first two weeks, but finally succumbed to their continuing sloppy play in a loss at Arizona yesterday.
The Dallas Cowboys (2-1) appear to be on a roller coaster, with an impressive win in Week 1, a listless blowout loss in Week 2, and a strong defensive effort to win yesterday.
The Washington Redskins have piled up the points in their first three games behind the exciting play of Robert Griffin III – 99 points, to be precise – but have given up even more (101). They have lost two straight close games – but are just a few plays away from being 2-1 or even 3-0.
With a big division matchup in Week 4 – New York Giants at Philadelphia next Sunday night – it remains to be seen if any of the East teams can begin to create some separation from their division rivals.
Youngsters Carry Load
It was another close loss by Mike Shanahan’s squad, after erasing a 17-point deficit against Cincinnati. But the combo of Andy Dalton-to-A.J. Green was too much in Washington’s 38-31 loss.
RG3 continued his strong pro start. The rookie has completed 67.4 percent of his passes, for a Y/A of 8.4 (fourth-best in the league), with four passing TDs and just one INT. He has also averaged 70 rushing yards and one score per game.
Stat of the week: Adding together RG3’s passing and rushing totals, and rookie running back Alfred Morris’ 263 rushing yards, rookies have had a hand in 94.2 percent of Washington’s offensive production. Griffin and Morris have combined for 472 of the team’s 542 yards on the ground.
Eagles Lose Turnover Battle...Again
The turnovers and careless play finally caught up to Philadelphia on the road in Arizona. The Cardinals were in complete command in a 27-6 victory on Sunday.
Michael Vick avoided throwing any interceptions….but fumbled the ball away twice, including a red zone fumble that was returned 93 yards for an Arizona TD. The Eagles also muffed a punt, bringing their turnover total to 12 in 12 quarters.
Vick was not efficient with his throws, completing just 45.9 percent of his passes; in the 27 games Vick has started since his return to the NFL in 2009, he suffered through just one other game with a lower completion percentage (43.8 in a 2011 Week 1 win).
Philadelphia out-gained its opponent for the third straight game (this time by a +16-yard margin), but that hardly mattered after the Cardinals (3-0) netted 14 points off those Eagles miscues.
D Steps Up in Big D
In the lowest-scoring game of the week in the NFL, the Cowboys' defeated Tampa Bay 16-10 – posting their second strong defensive performance in three weeks. In its two wins, Dallas has allowed 26 points; in its one loss, it gave up 27 points.
The Cowboys' defense picked off a Josh Freeman pass and recovered a fumble. DeMarcus Ware turned in a strong game, with two sacks and two forced fumbles.
Linebacker Sean Lee, who is off to a great start in 2012, had the INT. After the Buccaneers scored an offensive TD off a short field (going just 29 yards), the following 10 possessions ended with an INT and nine punts.
Running back DeMarco Murray scored a TD among his 18 carries. Dallas improved to 1-5 (in the last 12 games) when Murray carries the ball fewer than 20 times.
The New York Giants did their best to answer all the questions that were thrown at them after a Week 1 loss and three quarters of poor play in Week 2. Can the defense step up? Check. Can the offense continue to roll after a 25-point fourth quarter against Tampa in Week 2? Check. Can Tom Coughlin’s team put together a complete game? Check.
The Giants did all that, and more, in a 36-7 demolition of Carolina on Thursday night. The Giants limited Cam Newton to 248 combined passing and rushing yards (including a much-too-late TD run in the third quarter).
The Giants out-gained the Panthers by 78 yards (thanks in large part to a productive running game). The Giants controlled the game throughout, holding the ball for over 36 minutes and scoring the game’s first 23 points.
After passing for 510 yards against the Buccaneers, Eli Manning was an efficient 27-for-35 for 288 yards on Thursday. Manning leads the league in passing yards with 1,011 (Aaron Rodgers would have to pass for 489 yards in Seattle tonight to match Manning).
The Giants appear to be the most complete team in the division to this point in the season, but if there’s one thing that stands out after three weeks, it’s that you can’t be too sure of anything in the NFL in 2012.