NFC East Roundup: Playoffs Begin In Week 16

Photo courtesy: USA Today Sports Images

Photo courtesy: USA Today Sports Images

The playoffs begin on Saturday; at least, for the Eagles and the Giants, they do. The race in the middling NFC East has reached a crescendo, with the biggest game of the season coming up on Saturday night.

When the Eagles face Washington, the division will hang in the balance. If Washington wins, Kirk Cousins and company head to the playoffs.

If the Eagles win on Saturday, they will have a chance to win the division with a Week 17 victory over the Giants.

If the Eagles win this week, but lose in Week 17, Washington can still win the division with a Week 17 victory over the hapless Cowboys.

The Giants need a little more help, in the form of the Eagles winning in Week 16, and both Washington and the Eagles losing in Week 17. The Giants, of course, would have to win both of their remaining games in order to make the playoffs.

The Cowboys have been officially eliminated from playoff contention after Washington won its seventh game of the season.

All the scenarios have been laid out, and the madness will begin the day after Christmas. Catch up on the division with our handy, dandy recaps below.

Washington (7-7, 1st)

Remaining schedule: @PHI, @DAL (.357 combined win percentage)

Saturday’s showdown in Philadelphia isn’t a must-win for Washington, writes ESPN’s John Keim, but they still want to have it.

If the Redskins lose Saturday, they still can win the division if they win at Dallas and New York beats Philadelphia in the season finale. The Eagles (6-8) can reach the postseason if they win their last two. (They would finish with a better division record than Washington.)

But the Redskins’ focus is on Saturday’s game.

“It’s a big game for us,” Redskins end Chris Baker said of Saturday. “I plan on celebrating in Philadelphia. We have to take care of business. We have to be focused and take care of the details. It’s going to be a dog fight. … Hopefully we go up there and play the way we’ve been playing the last couple games.”

At the end of his news conference following the Redskins’ 35-25 win over Buffalo, ex-Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson said, “Can’t get any better than going back to Philly, Saturday night football, let’s get it.”

Kirk Cousins has positioned his team to reach the playoffs, and in the process, writes the Washington Post’s Mike Jones, he’s caught the eye of Washington’s front office.

The Washington Redskins are sold on Kirk Cousins as their starting quarterback beyond this season, and because of that, team officials are determined to avoid letting the fourth-year veteran depart via free agency this offseason.

The Redskins remain undecided when it comes to Cousins’s value, and contract talks between the team and the quarterback’s representatives have not yet reached advanced stages, two people with knowledge of the situation said. However, the team’s decision-makers find themselves in agreement over Cousins: He’s their starter long term, and not merely a bridge quarterback.

Because of that conviction, the Redskins will either sign the former fourth-round pick – who is in the midst of a team-record-setting season – to a multi-year deal, or they will use the franchise tag to retain his services, and then continue to negotiate toward a contract that satisfies both sides. The franchise tag for a quarterback this offseason could translate to a value of around $18 million to $19 million.

EAGLES (6-8, T-2nd)

New York Giants (6-8, T-2nd)

Remaining schedule: MIN, PHI (.535 combined win percentage)

Sunday’s last-second loss to the Panthers was typical of the Giants’ 2015 season, writes the New York Post’s Dan Martin.

“We had plenty of opportunities with our hands on the ball and not catching them,” said [Dominique] Rodgers-Cromartie, who dropped a sure interception earlier. “We had some big stops coming into the third and fourth quarter. To go out there and just let them drive down the field is just mind-boggling.”

Not this year, it isn’t.

Sunday marked the sixth time this season the Giants have surrendered the winning points in the final two minutes of a game — and the fourth in the waning seconds.

“We kept fighting and had a chance to win at the end,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “We’ve got to finish.”

Odell Beckham Jr. has been suspended one game for what the NFL deemed unnecessary and dangerous actions in the Giants’ loss to Carolina, writes ESPN’s Dan Graziano.

Beckham has the right to appeal the suspension and almost assuredly will, though NFLPA officials said Monday afternoon that they would wait for the official letter announcing and detailing the suspension before proceeding. Appeals of this nature are generally expedited, and assuming Beckham files the appeal within the next day or so, it’s likely to be heard and ruled on well in advance of the Giants’ Sunday night game in Minnesota. A jointly appointed appeals officer, either Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, will hear the appeal.

Beckham was flagged three times for personal fouls as he grappled all day Sunday with Panthers cornerbacks Josh Norman and Cortland Finnegan. The Panthers’ defensive backs were also flagged, but Beckham’s actions seemed to be the more excessive, particularly the play on which he rushed across the field to deliver a helmet-to-helmet hit on Norman at the end of a run play on which neither was involved.

Dallas Cowboys (4-10, 4th)

Remaining schedule: @BUF, WAS (.465 combined win percentage)

In a Star Wars-apeing column, Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram posits that the Force was simply against the Cowboys competing this year.

This season promised to be as good as the Force Awakens, yet it is worse than Episodes I, II and III combined (sorry if you are lost with the Star Wars references; in a season as bad as this, all of us are desperate).

No playoffs. No winning record. No .500 record. Draft talk in December. A last-place finish in the worst division in football, which includes the Big Ten. The Cowboys stink worse than Jar Jar Binks.

The sad part is this team is not that bad, but the record says otherwise, so they smell like an Imperial Cruiser port-a-potty. When the Cowboys’ season mercifully ends in two weeks, know that the record will not be how this team will be evaluated. Bet your Millennium Falcon that when this team grades out, the Cowboys’ “brain trust” – a contradiction in terms, at best – will say this team is better than the final box office haul.

Kellen Moore will be the Cowboys’ starting quarterback in Week 16, the team’s fourth different starting quarterback this season, writes ESPN’s Todd Archer.

Kellen Moore will be the Dallas Cowboys’ starting quarterback Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

Coach Jason Garrett confirmed the move Monday morning, speaking on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas after Moore completed 15 of 25 passes for 158 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions in the Cowboys’ 19-16 loss to the New York Jets.

“Just the evaluation of how he did in the ballgame and where we want to be right now offensively,” Garrett said of the decision to start Moore. “We felt like he did good things for us. Unfortunately, the turnovers he made weren’t good, but hopefully he’ll learn from the experiences and gives us a chance to move the ball and score some points up there.”