Sunday, December 30, 2012
Final Word: NFC East
By Dan Graziano
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 17:
Michael Vick played his best game of the season in the Eagles' first meeting with the Giants, earning a Total QBR of 90.1 in that game.
Bringing out his best.Michael Vick, who will start Sunday's game for the Philadelphia Eagles against the New York Giants, has not played since he suffered a concussion in Week 10. But the Eagles' Week 4 victory over the Giants in Philadelphia was one of only two games that Vick has finished this season in which he did not turn over the ball. His Total QBR in that game was 90.1, which is his season high, and ESPN Stats & Information tells us that he was 8-for-12 for 125 yards and a touchdown when the Giants sent five or more pass-rushers. The Giants are going to have to figure out how to pressure Vick with just their front four, but they haven't been doing that to anyone lately.
Super Bowl curse? The Giants need to win and have three other teams -- the Vikings, Bears and Cowboys -- lose in order to make the playoffs as an NFC wild-card team. If they do not make it (or even if they do make it and lose a playoff road game next week), they will be the seventh consecutive Super Bowl champion to fail to win a playoff game the following season. The last defending Super Bowl champion to win a playoff game was the 2005 New England Patriots.
Going for the sweep. The Washington Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day in Texas. If they beat them again Sunday night at FedEx Field, they will not only win the NFC East for the first time since 1999, they'll have swept the Cowboys in a season series for only the second time in 17 years. They beat them twice in 2005. Incidentally, only the Browns (20), Lions (19), Bills (17) and Jaguars (13) have played as many or more seasons since their most recent division title than the Redskins have.
No defense for this. The Cowboys are playing without five of their defensive starters because of injuries, and it has shown. Over the past eight weeks, no team in the NFL has allowed more yards per game than the Cowboys' 409.9. The Dallas offense, with Tony Romo performing at the most consistently clutch, level-headed, responsible level of his career, has shown a propensity to hang in games and win them at the end. And the defense has been able to lock down a game or two with a big turnover at the end. But they are not getting stops to the extent that they need to get them, and if they lose this game Sunday that's likely to be the reason why.
Pinpoint precision. The Cowboys can't count on Robert Griffin III and the Redskins to help them out in the turnover department, either. Washington's 14 turnovers are the fewest in the league this year. Further, Griffin is one of the most accurate passers in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information, completing a league-high 50.0 percent of his passes on throws 20 or more yards downfield. Stats & Info also reports that only 13.9 percent of Griffin's passes have been incomplete because of being underthrown or overthrown, the third-lowest figure in the league, and that only three of his five interceptions have been as a result of an off-target pass.