NFC East roundup: Dak Prescott injury changes divisional race

Just one week into the NFL season, the NFC East race got a wrench thrown right into it. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a right thumb fracture that could keep him out “for a while.” The Cowboys are the lone winless team in the NFC East and are now without the best quarterback in the division for the next month or so. A lot changes in the NFL!

As part of the NFC East roundup, I’ll take a look at the standings, preview the division’s game this week, look at a couple of storylines and provide some news updates.

Standings 📊

Place  Team   Record
t-1st   Eagles 1-0
t-1st  Commanders   1-0 
t-1st  Giants  1-0
4th  Cowboys  0-1 

Week 2 Matchups 👊

(lines via DraftKings Sportsbook)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m., Commanders (+1.5) at Lions

Sunday, 1:00 p.m., Panthers at Giants (+2.5)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., Bengals at Cowboys (+7.5)

Monday, 8:30 p.m., Vikings at Eagles (-2)

• That Eagles line is already moving. It opened up at -2.5. Public money hopping on the Vikings already after a double-digit win over the Packers and the Eagles almost blowing it in Detroit? I’d like to see what that settles into near kickoff on Monday night. 

Carson Wentz went full “Carson gives and Carson takes” mode in Week 1 against the Jaguars, but it was more of the latter, throwing four touchdowns and two picks in the win. As Eagles fans saw, however, the Lions are definitely frisky.

• Am I the only one expecting a giant letdown (egregiously bad punt intended) after the Giants’ upset win over the Titans? 

• Cincinnati had their own mess of problems with giving Joe Burrow enough time to throw on Sunday in a loss to the Steelers, but this Cowboys team feels like a train off the rails going south right now in the aftermath of Prescott’s injury. For Eagles fans reveling in Dallas’ misery, I’d caution leaning into the schadenfreude too much. The Cowboys completely bottoming out could lead to the Birds facing Bryce Young twice per season for the next decade. Perpetually 6-11 with a bunch of buzzy roster moves failing is what Eagles fans should be hoping for with this franchise. The most Cowboys turn of event would be them sitting at 1-4 or 2-3 and forcing an increasingly injury-prone Prescott to play on Sunday Night Football at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 6. 

Storylines 📝

• If the Commanders can pull off a win in Detroit as a favorite as the Eagles did last week, Wentz and that squad will be 2-0 when he face his old squad for the first time on September 25. If Washington goes up 2-0 while the Birds fall on Monday Night Football to the Vikings, the takes will be as hot as the fires of Mount Doom all week leading up to next Sunday. I’d watch the Commanders’ run defense against D’Andre Swift. Washington was 31st in Football Outsiders’ Run Defense DVOA in 2021 and Swift rushed for 144 yards against the Birds last week. Detroit illustrated an ability to run the ball successfully and creep themselves back into the game when trailing big too. 

Cooper Rush is now starting at quarterback for Dallas. Ahead of this season, I ranked him 32nd among all NFL quarterbacks. Can he handle being QB1 for a month or two? Probably not! Through his age-29 season, Rush has thrown just 63 passes in the NFL. He started one game for the Cowboys in 2021, throwing for two touchdowns and one interception in a 20-16 Week 8 win over the Vikings. He’ll face a Bengals defense that was seventh in passing yards allowed and 11th in FO’s Pass Defense DVOA in 2021. Will Dallas swing a panic trade for a QB if Rush falters? Sign Cam Newton? Bring Ryan Fitzpatrick out of retirement? Gut feeling: Jerry Jones is going to do something more outrageous than usual in the next several weeks. 

• I’ve written about Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon twice this week: once in a mailbag that was filled with angry questions about him and then again after he spoke to the media on Tuesday. If Eagles fans are concerned about the defense, I understand. I don’t want to be too reactionary after one game, but the threat of Justin Jefferson is what will keep Gannon up late into the night the next several days. I worry about the pass rush not getting to Kirk Cousins fast enough. Cousins’ time to throw was 2.76 seconds in 2021, per Next Gen Stats. That was a quicker mark than the likes of Justin Herbert, Matthew Stafford and Patrick Mahomes. This expensive, big-name pass rush unit needs to be better than they were in Week 1, as does Gannon himself. 

• Which quarterback can bring a greater level of competency on Sunday between Daniel Jones and Baker Mayfield on Sunday? Mayfield was 25th in ESPN’s QBR in Week 1. Jones was 27th. In the simplest analysis possible, whichever QB is less of a mess in the Giants-Panthers game will win the game. 

News 📰

• Former Eagles practice squad offensive lineman Kayode Awosika has signed with the Lions, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo

• Former Eagles safety Anthony Harris has signed with the Broncos’ practice squad, per The Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran.

• Commanders wideout Jahan Dotson, a rookie out of Penn State, is fourth in CBS Sports’ rookie power rankings after Week 1. Dotson had three catches for 40 yards with two touchdowns against the Jags. 

• Giants starting cornerback Aaron Robinson won’t play against the Panthers after getting his appendix removed on Wednesday. Sounds terrible!

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