Most people who pay close attention to the NFL knew that 2022 was going to be a down year for the NFC. The conference with Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford, and the aging greats — Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady — as its best quarterbacks has a clear lower level of talent at the position than what is in the AFC with Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, and Joe Burrow.
With one game remaining on the Week 5 schedule, there is little reason to stray from that preseason analysis. However, when it comes to a compelling television experience, the NFC has given the NFL the nudge that it needs to properly maximize its viewership — a strong eastern division.
Sure the Washington Commanders are, as expected, one of the worst teams in the league, but there are only five teams in the league with only one loss, and only a single roster has been good enough to remain undefeated two games into October. Of those five one-loss teams, two of them are in the NFC East — the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants — and the only team that has yet to lose in 2022 is the Philadelphia Eagles.
There have been many years to complain about the NFL putting far too many NFC East teams in primetime matchups, but this year there may be too few. The division with the most eyeballs only has only two matchups left on the primetime schedule. There’s next Sunday’s massive Eagles vs. Cowboys showdown in Philadelphia, and a Week 10 Monday night game between the Commanders and Eagles. Maybe Giants vs. Cowboys will get flexed into the Week 18 Sunday night matchup, but for once it’s far more than east-coast bias making the NFC East interesting.
Daniel Jones isn’t Josh Allen, but Brian Daboll and the Giants have the same record as the Bills
Neither of the Giants’ last two wins has been pretty. There is certainly very little aesthetically pleasing about Daniel Jones running the football. He can be effective with his size and straight-ahead speed, but his power is far from overwhelming, and he’s also not very elusive.
Still, against the Bears in Week 4, his gains on the ground, prior to his ankle injury, are a major reason why they won. In Week 5 against the Green Bay Packers, the Giants waited until the second half to let Jones take off, and he made some crucial plays. As important as his ground game was in the second half, that drive late in the third quarter in which Saquon Barkley wasn’t able to participate, Jones completed some of his most clutch passes of the season to tie the game at 20-all early in the fourth.
Barkley came back into the game on the Giants’ next possession to give them the 27-20 lead and win. The Packers’ penalties proved to be too much, and their final two offensive plays ended in batted passes. The Giants did not pick up the option on Jones’ contract, and there is not enough evidence yet that says whether they should proceed with him as their starting quarterback going forward. However, with Jones as their 2022 starter, they are 4-1.
Cowboys defense picks on Rams O-line to stay near top of division
It seemed like whenever the Los Angeles Rams really needed a play from Matthew Stafford, there was a blue jersey in his face. The Dallas Cowboys knew that the Rams’ biggest weakness was their offensive line and they poured salt and pickle juice all in it.
For all of the issues Stafford has with his injured throwing elbow (his general limited mobility, and sometimes erratic decision-making), he’s not getting enough help from the people employed to protect him. He spent most of Sunday afternoon struggling to find a place on the field to make a clean pass attempt. The Cowboys continuously closed in on him from all sides for much of the game, and outside of that 75-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp in the second quarter, the Rams’ passing attack was a drunk left hook from a right-handed bar patron.
Yes, the pass protection struggled, but whatever Stafford could squeeze out of the passing game was still far better than the Rams’ rushing attack has been for most of the season. They netted just 38 yards on 15 rushing attempts.
Cooper Rush is still undefeated as an NFL starter, but you’re playing yourself if you think he should finish this season off as the Cowboys’ QB1. He completed 10 of 16 passes for 102 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. The Cowboys’ offense in Week 5 was their pass rush, forced turnovers, and steady running game.
Nothing like a good ol’ fashioned backup kicker duel.
Both the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals were without their starting field-goal kickers during their Week 5 showdown. Cameron Dicker and Matt Ammendola would make the game’s deciding plays, but they were far from the main reason this game was clearly the best of the three late-afternoon games.
Per usual, the Cardinals took as long to warm up as an old Honda Prelude in winter. They went down 14-0 in the first half before going on a run late in the second quarter to go into halftime only down by four points.
The Kyler Murray magic continued to cast a spell on the Eagles throughout the second half, at home with a very noticeable contingent of Eagles fans in the crowd. The strong Philly defense struggled to corral him, and made enough big plays to win the game, except for that last scramble.
I can only imagine how fast an NFL game moves for a quarterback, especially during a two-minute drill. Some may want to rain judgment on Murray for beginning his slide before the first down marker, and spiking the ball, or the game operations crew for putting 1st and 10 on the scoreboard when Murray didn’t make it to the sticks. But maybe they wouldn’t be in this position if for once Kliff Kingsbury’s scripted plays would work early in the game.
The Cardinals certainly didn’t do their kicker out-of-the-bullpen any favors by giving him a 43-yarder for the win, but don’t forget what the Eagles did to help their compromised place-kicking situation. They drained seven-plus minutes off of the clock in the fourth quarter with a steady running game and a handful of timely passes from Hurts to give Dicker a 23-yard attempt for the lead.
It took a fight in the desert, but the Eagles walked out the only undefeated team in the NFL.