NFC East contenders
The Cowboys started their 2019 season with imposing victories over the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Dolphins, before falling to the Saints on Sunday Night Football in Week 4.
The offense, which averaged 32.3 points per game in their wins, only managed 10 points in the loss, a concern for a team that was being held to the old “they haven’t played anyone good yet” cliche.
In spite of that, they remain Football Outsiders’ second most-efficient offense through four weeks, with a 32.7 percent DVOA, and are owners the top-ranked offense, according to Pro Football Focus, with a 83.2 grade.
Of all the contenders so far this season, they’ve been the most balanced.
And it’s that balance that makes them one of the more dangerous NFC teams through the rest of the season.
If the Cowboys can maintain this throughout the rest of the season, especially against tougher competition (they play Philadelphia and Green Bay for two of their next three games), they should be among the top teams in the NFC come playoff time.
The Eagles came into the season as one of the most highly touted and respected teams in the NFL.
Having won a Super Bowl just two seasons ago, and with the return of quarterback Carson Wentz from last season’s up-and-down year, many expected Philly to be among the teams with the best chance of representing the NFC in the Super Bowl this year.
Then they got off to a slow start, having to make a comeback to beat Washington in Week 1, losing two straight close contests to Atlanta and Detroit, before taking down the Packers on Thursday night to even their record to 2-2 so far this year.
Winning that Week 4 game was crucial to keeping the Eagles in the hunt, but it’s how they got to this record that’s surprising.
Their offense has been good, with a 16.9 percent DVOA and 76.0 PFF grade so far in 2019, good for fourth and sixth in the league, respectively. It’s on defense where they’ve not lived up to their potential.
Football Outsiders has them essentially having no impact on the team’s success (a 0.0-percent defensive DVOA), while their 67.0 PFF grade points to theirs being just an average unit. These numbers place that at 22nd and 19th in the league, respectively.
In a division where the Cowboys have already proved themselves to be strong on both sides of the ball, the Eagles don’t have a lot of time to mess around and figure out how to be better on defense. It’s hard to believe, but the Week 7 matchup between those teams could provide a lot of insight in terms of who takes the NFC East.
Still, like with the Packers, Saints and Rams, it’s difficult to fully count the Eagles out of this one. They’ll just need to be better, defensively, allowing some pressure to be removed from Wentz and the offense for the rest of the season.