Friday, September 25, 2009
NFC East: Final Word Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Five nuggets of knowledge about Sunday's and Monday's games:
J. Meric/Getty Images
Look for Felix Jones to get more touches if Marion Barber is unable to play Monday night.
I don't think the Cowboys will have Marion Barber: Earlier today, someone close to the situation said the Cowboys were "leaning toward" sitting Barber for this game. And with superb depth in Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, it sounds like a solid course of action. Barber's still lobbying to play against the Panthers, but I'd be really surprised if he wins this debate. He probably knows how awful the Panthers have been against the run and would like to get a piece of that action. With Barber out, look for offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to try to get Jones and Choice involved in the passing game early. My best guess is that Jones will end up with about 15 to 18 carries and Choice will be somewhere in the 10-to-12 range. Choice did a really nice job filling in last December, so I could see him getting hot in this game and reeling off 75 yards and a touchdown.
The Giants have to overcome more adversity: This Kenny Phillips injury has really upset the locker room. Phillips, who was placed on injured reserve Thursday, was poised to make a run at the Pro Bowl, in my opinion. Now the Giants will replace him with C.C. Brown, who's not nearly as good in coverage. There's also a chance that Justin Tuck (shoulder) might not be able to play. He's also lobbying pretty hard to play, but right now he's feeling some resistance. I think the Giants would like to rest him one game to let the shoulder injury settle down. The Giants are really banged up in the secondary. Getting Kevin Dockery (hamstring) would help immensely, but I wouldn't bet on it happening.
The Redskins need a convincing win: A win's a win -- unless you're playing the Rams and Lions in back-to-back weeks. Jim Zorn is already feeling the heat following Sunday's 9-7 win over the Rams in which the Skins were horrendous in the red zone. I think you'll see a lot more poise from them against the Lions, and Jason Campbell's about to have a big day. If they lose this game, the discussion of an in-season coaching change will start up. Actually, I've already started that, I guess. Look for Santana Moss to have a big game against the Lions. Zorn's been trying to get him more involved and I think this is the week he breaks out.
Should I attempt to make an Eagles point that doesn't involve Michael Vick? Well, let's give it a try. All the focus will be on the Wildcat formation, but the defense needs to win this game. You have to put bad teams away early -- and that's why the defense needs to cause a couple of turnovers. The Eagles let Drew Brees do anything he wanted in an embarrassing 48-22 loss. This week, the Eagles will call a lot more blitzes and you'll see fewer mistakes. You also need to eliminate the mistakes on special teams. Chiefs coach Todd Haley knows a thing or two about moving the ball on the Eagles (see NFC Championship Game), so I don't think this will be the blowout Eagles fans are craving.
There's one way Jason Garrett could cut down on Tony Romo's turnovers: The Princeton man saw what this running game could do against an elite front seven. And that's why he should come out and let the Cowboys' offensive line dominate the Panthers, who have allowed 168 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys could've put the Giants away if they'd kept running the ball late in the third quarter. Garrett gave Romo the opportunity to go for the deep ball -- and it backfired. Felix Jones and Tashard Choice should both have big days. If that doesn't happen, Garrett's going with the wrong game plan.
Let's also hope Jerry Jones gets the Party Pass situation taken care of. That was a potentially dangerous situation when a large number of fans broke down a barricade to get into the Party Pass area. OK, thanks for joining us for the Final Word.