With five weeks remaining in the regular season, it certainly appears that the New York Giants have a stranglehold on the NFC East division.
After smashing the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night, the Giants (7-4) hold a 2-game lead on both Washington and Dallas – with an important game on tap in Washington next Monday night.
But just about anything can happen in a five-game span – meaning the division race is anything but over.
Here is what we learned in Week 12 of the 2012 NFL season:
The Giants are capable of beating anyone
Alright, we already knew that, considering the Giants have won two Super Bowl titles in the past five years. But just a week after getting shellacked by an average Cincinnati team, New York reminded everyone just how good they can be by demolishing Green Bay, 38-10.
Eli Manning found his groove again, ending his TD drought with 3 scoring tosses, and getting a nice boost from a ground game that produced 147 yards (with three RB, and Manning, chipping in). Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz did their thing – scoring TDs – by each finding the end zone.
And the defense did what it does best – getting turnovers and sacking the QB. The Giants forced a pair of turnovers and sacked Aaron Rodgers 5 times.
The Giants are 1 game ahead of last year’s pace through 11 games; after going 6-5 through Week 12, the 2011 Giants dropped 2 of 3 games to fall to 7-7, before winning 6 in a row, culminating in a Super Bowl title.
New York gets another nationally televised game in Week 13, facing Washington on MNF.
‘Skins not done yet
Remember when Mike Shanahan made it seem as if the Washington Redskins were throwing in the towel on the 2012 season? Never mind that – the ‘Skins are a Week 13 Monday Night win away from being right in the thick of things.
The rookies came through again for Washington in their Thanksgiving Day win over Dallas; Robert Griffin III passed for 311 yards and 4 TDs, and Alfred Morris ran for 113 yards and 1 TD in the Redskins’ 38-31 win over the Cowboys.
Stat of the week: Through 11 games, rookies RG3 (2,504 passing and 642 rushing yards) and Morris (982 rushing yards) have had a hand in 93.7% of Washington’s offensive production this season – all but 279 yards (Kirk Cousins has passed for 111 yards and 11 other players have accounted for 168 rushing yards).
The defense continue to be one of the most ineffective units in the league – ranked 28th in yards allowed per game and 25th in PPG – but with an offense that can churn out the yards and points that Washington is, the Redskins are in just about every game.
Another lost year for Dallas
Even though, at 5-6, the Cowboys are in the same position as Washington, the Thanksgiving Day loss looms large for Dallas. At least the Redskins have an identity in a young, exciting offense. What do the Cowboys have that they can hang their hat on? A wildly inconsistent offense that turns the ball over too often, and a defense that looks good on paper… but then gives up 38 points to a division rival, in a game that could have gone a long way in eliminating said rival from playoff contention.
The fact is, the Cowboys are 0-5 this season when allowing 24 points or more in a game. Dallas can win a low-scoring game, but simply does not have the ability to win a game when the score starts rising.
In a positive development for the team, Dez Bryant is finally playing like the star the franchise thought it was drafting in 2010. The third-year WR has posted back-to-back 145-yard games, averaging 14.5 YPC and scoring 3 TDs.
The Cowboys clearly outplayed the Redskins in the second half, outscoring them 28-10, but it wasn’t enough because of the huge halftime deficit. This game was yet another example of the team’s inability to put in a complete, consistent effort.
Oh yeah, the Eagles are still playing
Philadelphia is probably in the one place they’d rather not be right now – prime time. The 3-7 Eagles face off against the 2-8 Carolina Panthers tonight in a matchup that looked good on paper in August. Michael Vick vs. Cam Newton. The Super Bowl contenders (Eagles) vs. the hard-charging up-and-comers (Panthers). Or something like that.
Philadelphia will try to snap its six-game losing streak, without Vick or LeSean McCoy, who are both out with concussions. Rookie Nick Foles will start his second straight game at QB.
The last time the Eagles lost seven straight games? The final seven games of the 1994 season – with Bubby Brister starting at QB the last two games.