(CBS Philadelphia) — Should the NFC East just go ahead and change their name to the NFC Least? Heading into Week 6, the division currently has four wins among its four teams. For reference, the Baltimore Ravens, who the Philadelphia Eagles will host, also have four wins. The good news is that the division’s grand total will probably increase by one, with an intra-division battle also on the schedule.
CBS Philadelphia sports director Don Bell draws the unenviable task of breaking down the games in the NFL’s worst division.
All times listed are Eastern.
Baltimore Ravens @ Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, October 18 @ 1:00 p.m. ET (CBS)
The only upside to the Eagles’ 1-3-1 start is that they’re still very much in the hunt for the division title. They’re unlikely to gain any ground against a Ravens team with Super Bowl aspirations. “Forget about the action on the field,” says Bell, “you immediately notice that the Ravens have a stronger roster, top to bottom. There’s a reason that they won 13-plus games last year. And they also have the reigning MVP in Lamar Jackson.”
But the line of scrimmage is where the important battles will play out. Carson Wentz has been sacked 19 times so far this season, including five times last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“On the offensive line for the Birds, they definitely have some issues,” according to Bell. “Lane Johnson, their three-time Pro Bowl right tackle, is having some issues with an ankle, and he’s looking for a second opinion. That’s bad news. And only Jason Kelce is the guy who was scheduled to start from the very beginning of the season, who is in that lineup and fully healthy.”
They’ll be facing a Ravens defense that’s already collected 16 sacks, including seven against the Cincinnati Bengals last week. “I really think that the game is going to be won between the trenches,” says Bell. “From tackle to tackle, on both sides of the ball, the physicality of the Baltimore Ravens is going to be too much for the Eagles to handle.”
“I’m definitely taking the Ravens in this game,” says Bell.
Washington Football Team @ New York Giants, Sunday, October 18 @ 1:00 p.m. ET (FOX)
The Washington Football Team opened the season with a win and has lost every game since. This week, they face an opponent who has yet to win a game this season in the New York Giants.
Washington made a switch at quarterback last week, inserting Kyle Allen as the starter and it, didn’t exactly go well. Allen completed 9-of-13 passes for 74 yards before suffering an injury and being replaced by Alex Smith. Head coach Ron Rivera has said that Allen will be the starter again this week, though it’s unclear how long of a leash he’ll be given.
Allen will face a Giants defense that has been fairly effective this season, ranking in the middle of the road in most categories. Like Washington, the bigger issues have been on the offensive side of the ball where, prior to last week, the Giants had scored just three touchdowns all season. Against the Cowboys, Daniel Jones and company found a rhythm, but still totaled just 300 yards.
Since the two teams a fairly similar in play thus far, Bell says it comes down to the best unit on the field.
“I think it’s the Washington pass rush. Their front seven is something to behold, especially when they can get you into known downs and distances. They can pin their ears back and go ahead and chase the quarterback Daniel Jones,” said Bell. “So I like the Washington Football Team in this matchup, even though it’s on the road.”
Arizona Cardinals @ Dallas Cowboys, Monday, October 19 @ 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Finally, the division-leading Cowboys embark on the next phase of their season after losing quarterback Dak Prescott to injury last week. Bell, like many around the league this week, extended his sympathies to Prescott.
“First of all, I feel really bad for Dak Prescott. I think that he was going to get paid a whole lot of money. And I think he’s a really good quarterback,” said Bell.
But, the season continues on and for Dallas that means Andy Dalton stepping in to take over the offense. The former Cincinnati Bengals starter has been solid in his career and Bell thinks that will be the case again in Dallas.
“Bringing in Andy Dalton is not a bad thing. Andy Dalton, with all those weapons around him… even when he had those types of weapons around him in Cincinnati was able to get you 10 wins a year and get into the postseason. So I think the Dallas Cowboys are in some pretty decent shape with Andy Dalton,” said Bell.
But, while the offense will be fine, the defense remains a problem. The Cowboys gave up 34 points to the league’s worst offense last week in the New York Giants and this week, they face the Arizona Cardinals who have been flashy on offense this year. Quarterback Kyler Murray presents a threat both in the passing game and as a runner and Bell doesn’t believe the Cowboys have an answer for him.
“Their (the Cowboys) defense is awful. So I like Arizona in this game to go on the road and get it done. Because Kyler Murray, I don’t think they have an answer for him,” said Bell.