NFC East - Week 1 Overreactions
Week 1 in the NFL saw parody at a seemingly all-time high. The 1pm E.T. window included two overtime games, a tie, two game-winning field goals and a massive upset as the Bears (+6.5) defeated the 49ers in the pouring Chicago rain.
In the NFC East, The Washington Commanders scored a game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes to go on a 24-yard pass from Carson Wentz to rookie receiver Jahon Dotson.
Elsewhere in the division, the Eagles took care of the Lions after a late surge from Detroit to win 38-35, the Giants came from 13 down to beat the Titans 21-20 and last-years division champ, Dallas Cowboys, were trounced at home 19-3, and were the only team in the NFL held without a touchdown in the opening week.
Week 1 always has leads to overreactions and has storylines that do not last til seasons end. In this article, we’ll sift through some of the early season narratives in the NFC East and decide what is and what is not an overreaction.
The Eagles are the best team in the division
Not an overreaction
The Birds offense was cooking in Sunday’s 38-35 win on the road against the Lions. Philadelphia registered the third most rushing yards in the NFL (216) and four different players scored a rushing touchdown, including quarterback Jalen Hurts, who added 243 yards through the air.
Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK
The main concern for the Eagles through one week is defense. They surrendered 35 points to a Detroit offense that was stagnant for most of the first half and let a 17 point lead slip away to hold on for a 3-point win.
At this point, saying that Philly is the best team in the division is less about validating the Eagles and more of an indictment on the rest of the division…nonetheless the fact remains the same; they’re the team to beat in the NFC East.
The Cowboys are in real trouble, with or without a healthy Dak Prescott
The only reason I say overreaction is that it’s just one game. We’re not freaking out about the Super Bowl Champions getting blown out by Buffalo (yet) and I’m applying the same logic here.
Just as Green Bay did in Week 1 of the 2021 season, The Cowboys only mustered 3 points on Sunday night and were the only team held without a touchdown across the league. Last year's Packers turned out alright and Dallas could too.
The real concern lies with the health of quarterback Dak Prescott, who fractured his thumb in the 19-3 loss to Tampa Bay and is likely out for the next 6-8 weeks. That means that quarterback Cooper Rush will take his place until Prescott is able to return.
We have all season to worry about Dallas and I’m not there just yet. A poor performance in Week 2 hosting the defending AFC Champion Bengals and I’ll start becoming concerned.
Saquon Barkley is BACK
Man, Saquon looked good didn’t he? The fifth year running back out of Penn State rushed for 164 yards on 18 carries, scored a touchdown and added the game-winning two point conversion in a 21-20 comeback victory over Tennessee. His 68 yard run in the 3rd quarter to give the Giants a spark was his longest run since 2019.
Photo: Associated Press
Unfortunately, we’ve seen this before. Barkley comes out hot, everyone thinks he’s back and then BAM, he gets hurt again and isn't the same for the rest of the season. That’s why this is an overreaction…for now.
Saquon’s rookie year was his best by far. In 2018, he rushed for over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns, adding 721 yards and 4 scores receiving.
That was the only season in which he played every game. In the last two years combined, he’s only played in 15 games and has rushed for 627 yards and 2 touchdowns.
In 2022, I am a Saquon believer. He’s built a narrative that he cannot stay healthy and this is his last real year to debunk that. His rushing total Week 1 was his most yards in a game since Week 16 in 2019 and his third most yards in any game of his career.
If Saquon wants to show he’s back, he should do that again against Carolina in the Giants home opener this weekend.
The Commanders receiving core is the best top-to-bottom in the division
Not close to ready to agree with this one simply because there are guys named CeeDee Lamb and AJ Brown in the division, but it isn’t THAT crazy.
Outside of The Commanders receiving core, the rest of the NFC East receivers combined for just one touchdown on opening weekend (Sterling Shepard - NYG). Meanwhile, three different Washington receivers scored touchdowns in Sunday’s 26-21 win over Jacksonville, including two from rookie Jahon Dotson (Penn State).
Photo: Kourtney Carroll and Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders
The Commanders used a first round pick on Dotson in the 2022 draft and he caught the game winner in his first ever NFL game. Not a bad start.
Pairing Dotson with returning star Terry McLaurin, with contributions from Curtis Samuel, Amari Rodgers and Cam Sims, I don’t see why this unit can’t become the best receiving core top-to-bottom in the NFC East. They’ll just need to keep it going.
Carson Wentz threw for over 300 yards in his first game as the Commanders quarterback, something that Washington QB’s did only once all of last season. If Wentz can continue to spread the wealth and take better care of the football (Wentz had 2 interceptions against Jacksonville), this passing attack could quickly turn into the best in the division.
The Cowboys defense is for real
Not an overreaction…at all
This is the best defense in the division and I do not see that changing, assuming health doesn’t become a factor. The Cowboys got dominated on Sunday night in a 19-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and it would have been significantly worse, had it not been for the defense.
The Dallas defense, led by second year linebacker Micah Parsons, held Tampa to field goals in the first half as the Cowboys offense could not get rolling, but only trailed 12-3 at the half.
Parsons was able to sack Tom Brady twice in the game, while his linebacking counterpart Leighton Vander-Esch led the team with 9 tackles.
Photo: AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth
This defense is the only reason I’m not writing Dallas off. Just as they were Sunday night, they’ll be able to hang around in games they have no business being in because of the defense.
They’ve got a good test Week 2 as Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals come to Jerry World, followed by divisional games at New York and hosting Washington. Let’s see where this team is at after four games and how the defense is holding up without Dak Prescott leading the offense.
Jalen Hurts is now the best quarterback in the division
Carson Wentz might have something to say about this…all jokes aside, the Eagles quarterback appears to be on the rise and is leading a lethal Philadelphia offense.
In Sunday’s 38-35 win over Detroit, Hurts was 18/32 passing for 243 yards, adding 90 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown. Perhaps most importantly, the offense never turned the ball over.
Photo: AP Photo/Rick Osentoski
This is an overreaction because The Lions do not have a good defense. Philly’s Week 2 opponent, Minnesota Vikings, seemingly have a terrific defense. The two square off on Monday night in Philadelphia’s home opener, which should be electric.
Let’s see how Hurts holds up against a top defense in his home opener, under the lights and in front of the raucous Philadelphia crowd.
CeeDee Lamb is NOT a top-20 receiver
Every receiver, even the good ones, get shut down every now and then. Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles is a defensive mastermind and was bracketing Lamb all night on Sunday, who finished with 2 catches for 29 yards and was targeted 11 times.
Photo: Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News
The question here is who else does Dallas have to take away some of the attention from Lamb? Amari Cooper is now a Cleveland Brown and Cedrick Wilson is in Miami, while Michael Gallup is trying to return from a torn ACL and is not yet fully healthy.
With Cooper and Wilson gone and Gallup on the sideline, there aren’t many options for Dallas quarterbacks and the passing attack is easier to defend than it’s been in years.
The reason I’m overreacting here is I think that if you took the likes of Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson, etc. and put them in Lamb’s position, the results would be very similar.
The other side of the coin says that if Lamb is a top guy, he’ll be doubled all the time and he should be able to get open anyway. I get that. However, again, it’s just one game.
Let’s see how Cincinnati defends him on Sunday and if Lamb can find some more space his second time out in 2022.