Eli Manning Here’s what we learned about the NFC East in Week 16 of the 2012 NFL season:

  • The Champs Fall Short

There will likely be no Super Bowl defense for the New York Giants.

After their usual 6-2 start, the Giants have stumbled and bumbled their way to five losses in seven games, with the most crushing loss a 33-14 rout at Baltimore on Sunday to end any realistic hopes of reaching the postseason. 

In its pivotal two-game road swing these past two weeks, New York was out-scored by a 67-14 total and did not hold a lead for a single minute in either of those games.

The Giants (8-7) will need serious help in Week 17 to qualify for the postseason.

Pittsburgh started New York’s slide, with a fourth-quarter comeback win at the Meadowlands on Nov. 4. The Giants followed that up by getting blown out at Cincinnati the following week, before turning in their most impressive outing of the season in Week 12 – a 38-10 home victory over Green Bay. 

New York then lost a 17-16 heart breaker to Washington, a game in which the Giants failed to hold a 16-10 third-quarter lead. A 52-27 rout of New Orleans gave Giants Nation some hope, but that hope was quickly washed away by this recent road trip.

Stat of the week: In the past eight years, the Giants have compiled a 48-16 (.750) record in the first halves of seasons, only to stumble to a 28-35 (.438) record in the second half

  • Rookie class makes all the difference

The Washington Redskins were a franchise going nowhere fast, until a spectacular Draft put them on the road to success in a hurry.

This past April, the Redskins traded up from their No. 6 spot, giving St. Louis three high future picks plus the 6th pick, in order to be able to draft Robert Griffin III 2nd overall. Washington added another quarterback, Kirk Cousins, with the 102nd pick, and running back Alfred Morris at No. 173.

RG3 has passed for 3,100 yards this season (plus 20 TDs and only five INTs) while also rushing for 752 yards (and six TDs). Morris is 4th in the league with 1,413 rushing yards, and one of only seven players with double-digit TDs (10).  

Cousins won the only game he started at QB, and also led the ‘Skins to another win in relief of an injured Griffin. Cousins has passed for 466 yards and rushed for 22 more.

In a hard-fought 27-20 win over Philadelphia on Sunday, Washington led 20-10 after Morris’ 10-yard score in the third quarter, and held on for a 27-20 win. Despite being out-gained by nearly 100 yards (411-313), the Redskins finished off drives and won the turnover battle (2-1) for the franchise’s biggest win in years.

The Redskins (9-6) need one more big win this week though, to assure themselves a spot in the NFL’s “second season.”

Stat of the year: The Redskins' offense has gained 6,001 yards in 2012. A rookie has had a hand in all but 248 of those yards – all 3,566 passing yards and 2,187 of 2,435 rushing yards. Rookies have had a hand in 95.9 percent of Washington’s offense this season.

  • Door is open for Dallas

For the second straight year, the Cowboys’ season will come down to a Week 17 matchup. Win and they’re in; lose and they’re out. It’s as simple as that for Tony Romo & Co.

Despite a 34-31 OT loss to New Orleans on Sunday, Dallas still controls its own destiny heading into the final regular-season game – which will be against division foe Washington.

Dallas (8-7) continued its remarkable string of close games; each of the Cowboys’ last six games have been decided by a TD or less, including OT games in each of the past two weeks. 

After using a timely INT of Ben Roethlisberger to beat Pittsburgh in the extra period last week, Dallas generated just one first down on its first possession before Drew Brees drove the Saints into winning FG range.

Romo played a fantastic game (albeit against a bad defensive team), tossing four TD passes and finishing with a 123.8 passer rating – and Dez Bryant continued to look like one of the best wide receivers in football, amassing 224 receiving yards on just 12 catches (24.9 YPC). Both players need to be at their best on Sunday for Dallas to sew up a playoff berth.

  • Playoff scenarios

It’s pretty simple for Washington and Dallas – but quite a bit more complicated for New York:

  • The winner of the Redskins-Cowboys game wins the division & earns a playoff spot
    • If the Cowboys lose, their season is over
    • If the Redskins lose, they need Chicago (vs. Detroit) & Minnesota (vs. Green Bay) to lose to earn a wild-card spot
  • In order for the Giants to make the playoffs…
    • They need to beat Philadelphia
    • And they need Dallas, Chicago & Minnesota to lose


  • End of an era?

Andy Reid was hired by the Philadelphia Eagles in January 1999, and he will almost certainly coach his last game with the franchise on Sunday, nearly 14 years to the day.

Reid took Philadelphia to the 2003 Super Bowl, where Donovan McNabb and the Eagles fell just short of beating New England. 

Reid’s teams reached five NFC Championship Games, and Reid’s 130 wins are a franchise record.  The Eagles were 10-9 in playoff games under Reid, although Philadelphia has not won a postseason game since 2008.

Despite keeping Sunday’s game against Washington close, the Eagles fell to 4-11 with the 27-20 loss. Rookie Nick Foles passed for 345 yards, one TD and one INT before leaving the game with an injury; Foles has since been placed on the IR, ending his season. 

LeSean McCoy played for the first time since Week 11, rushing for 45 yards to increase his season total to 795 – certainly not what McCoy or the organization envisioned for this season.