State of the NFC East: Eagles shine above their rivals

Posted on September 13, 2021

With the first week of the NFL regular season in the books, the Eagles are looking pretty high and mighty. Out of the four NFC East teams, Philadelphia was the only one to walk away with a victory:

NFC East Standings:

  1. Eagles: 1-0 (32 PF, 6 PA)
  2. Washington: 0-1 (16 PF, 20 PA)
  3. Giants: 0-1 (13 PF, 27 PA)
  4. Cowboys: 0-1 (29 PF, 31 PA)

For your sanity, enjoy this image as long as you can, Eagles fans.

There was quite a lot that happened in the NFC East this week. From tough losses to even tougher injuries, all four rivals have been impacted, either for better or worse. Let’s dive in and take a look at where they stand.

Philadelphia Eagles

What a debut game for Nick Sirianni and his team. The Eagles’ offense looked worlds better than what was trotted out last season. Jalen Hurts put up three touchdowns and 264 yards in a 32-6 trouncing of the Falcons, and rookie DeVonta Smith tacked on 71 receiving yards (along with his first career touchdown).


  • Zach Ertz briefly left the game with a hamstring injury, but was able to return. Ertz finished the day with just 34 yards on two receptions. While the injury was minor, it’s still worth monitoring considering Ertz’s injury woes last season.
  • Marcus Epps, who got the start at safety with Rodney McLeod absent, left with a concussion. The Eagles’ safety corps doesn’t have the best depth, so this isn’t ideal at all.
  • J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was carted off with a right leg injury. The former second-rounder got the start and was used mainly as a blocking WR, which he actually thrived as. If JJAW is unable to play in Week 2, a number of receivers on the practice squad (Travis Fulgham, KeeSean Johnson, John Hightower) could step in.

What’s Next:

The Eagles take on the San Francisco 49ers at home on Sept. 19. While the Niners almost incredibly blew a 41-17 lead late in the fourth, they managed to hang on and grab the victory. However, it didn’t come without a toll: top corner Jason Verrett suffered what is feared to be a torn ACL.

The 49ers will undoubtedly be a step up from the Falcons, and it will be interesting to see how Hurts and co. fair as they face off against greater opponents every week moving forward. With Verrett out, look for Smith and Reagor to continue being favorite targets of Hurts. FanDuel currently has the Eagles at +3.5.

Dallas Cowboys

We already discussed why the Cowboys might not be the NFC East favorites despite their solid outing against Tampa Bay in a 29-31 defeat. Their offense looks as good as advertised, with Dak Prescott not missing a beat in his return. However, their defense and coaching continue to be suspect.


  • The Cowboys sustained a big loss when it was revealed that wide receiver Michael Gallup suffered a strained left calf, which will keep him out three to five weeks. Despite being overshadowed by CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, Gallup (who had 843 receiving yards in 2020) still has a large part in the offense and will be missed.
  • The unfortunate developments didn’t end there: Offensive lineman La’el Collins was suspended five games for missing drug tests. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. The Eagles play the Cowboys in Week 3, so Philadelphia will benefit from Collins’ absence.

What’s Next:

The ‘Boys head out to Los Angeles to face off against the Chargers on Sep. 19. Dallas faces another tough QB in Justin Herbert, as well as multiple weapons (Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams) who should be able to rack up some yardage. FanDuel has the Cowboys at +2.5.

New York Giants

Remember when the Giants threw a fit because they didn’t make the playoffs? Well, it’s a new season. Their destiny in their own hands again, and they can finally show the world they did deserve to reach the postseason.

They proceeded to lose 27-13 to a Denver Broncos team that went 5-11 last season.

The G-men were unable to get anything offensively going. Saquon Barkley, returning after missing the 2020 season, had just 26 rushing yards on 10 attempts. Big free agent grab Kenny Golladay had a modest 64 receiving yards.

The massive “to be fair” in the room is that several of the Giants’ key players, such as Barkley and Golladay, might not be 100 percent and need further time to get back into their typical selves. Still, the Giants don’t have the luxury of waiting around for that to happen. They have big games ahead, and they need wins now.


  • TE Evan Engram was unable to play in Sunday’s game due to a calf injury. He’s unlikely to return for Week 2, considering the Giants have just four days before they suit up again.

What’s Next:

The Giants don’t get much time to rest, as they travel to Washington for a Thursday night matchup. Last season, New York swept Washington in the season series.

As with any divisional game in the East, it could go either way, although the Giants could turn into the favorite due to the key injuries Washington has just been dealt with. FanDuel has New York at +4.

Washington Football Team

WFT, the defending champs of the NFC East, had every right to be feeling confident before the opening day game. They upgraded at QB, bringing in journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. They bolstered their offense, and have an up-and-coming defense.

Facing off against the L.A. Chargers, the worst-case scenario occurred: Fitzpatrick was forced to leave the game with an injury. Backup Taylor Heinicke entered the game and put up a solid stat line: 11/15 with 122 yards and one touchdown.

While WFT led 16-13 at the start of the fourth, the Chargers would score a final touchdown that would end up being the deciding factor in a 20-16 Washington loss. RB Antonio Gibson finished with 90 yards on 20- attempts. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin led the team with 62 receiving yards.


  • The Fitzpatrick injury is a big one. Following the game, Fitzpatrick was diagnosed with a hip subluxation and is expected to miss “several weeks.” He was subsequently placed on the IR. Heinicke is expected to step in as the starter. Heinicke showed promise in the playoffs, so it might not be all bad for Washington.
  • Notable free agent acquisition WR Curtis Samuel was placed on the IR before Sunday’s game. Samuel had been dealing with a groin injury throughout the summer. The team doesn’t expect this injury to affect Samuel in the long-term, however.

What’s Next:

Washington gets their first taste of a division rival as they take on the Giants Thursday night. WFT will need Heinicke and Gibson to continue their solid play in order to prevent the team from going down 0-2 already. FanDuel has Washington at -4.

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Drew Rhoades

If there’s one thing you need to know about Drew Rhoades, it’s that he knows Philadelphia sports. A graduate from Saint Joseph’s University, Rhoades has previously written about Hawk sports for The Hawk Newspaper and covered baseball at Phillies Nation. In his spare time, he loves to volunteer at his local animal shelter and bike.

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