Friday, October 5, 2012
Final Word: NFC East
By Dan Graziano
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 5:
Keystone showdown: The Philadelphia Eagles have won six of their last eight games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, though the teams have not played since a 15-6 Eagles victory in Philadelphia in Week 3 of the 2008 season. The Eagles have won just twice in six tries in Pittsburgh dating to 1968. If the Eagles win in Pittsburgh on Sunday, they'll be 4-1 for the first time since 2006. If the Steelers lose, they'll be 1-3 for the first time since 2006.
Robert Griffin III has plenty more comebacks to complete before he catches Matt Ryan.
Sweat the short stuff? The Eagles and the Steelers rank first and second in lowest completion percentage allowed on passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information's "Next Level" numbers. Philadelphia is allowing a 28.0 completion percentage on such throws, and the Steelers are allowing 33.3 percent. But both teams have wide receivers -- DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown -- who are skilled at catching the ball short and making something happen afterward.
Fourth-quarter magic:Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III authored the first game-winning drive of his pro career Sunday in Tampa Bay. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who's in his fifth NFL season, delivered his 17th in Atlanta's victory over Carolina. No quarterback has led more game-winning drives since the start of Ryan's 2008 rookie season. Don't turn this game off if it's close in the fourth.
Going longer later: Those Next Level numbers from ESPN Stats & Info show us that the Redskins allow Griffin to take more shots downfield as the game goes along. His average target depth in the first quarter is 1.5 yards, third in the league. In the second quarter, that grows to 6.6, which is 21st in the league. And in the third and fourth, Griffin's average target depth is 9.4 yards, which is ninth in the league. What's odd about it is that they've only been trailing at halftime in one of their four games so far -- the loss to the Bengals in Week 3.
Bothering the QB: The New York Giants probably will bring intense pressure on Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden in Sunday's game. The Giants ranked just 17th in the league in sacks through four weeks after ranking third last year, but according to ESPN Stats & Info, they are putting opposing quarterbacks under duress on 20.7 percent of drop-backs, and that figure is the fourth-best in the league. The Giants have played against Tony Romo, Josh Freeman, Cam Newton and Michael Vick, all of whom are mobile quarterbacks who can get out of the way of a pass rush, so that probably explains -- at least in part -- how they could be getting to quarterbacks but not knocking them over. Weeden is attempting 42 throws per game, so the Giants will have chances to take their shots.