With all the flashy quarterback stats, comeback wins and struggling defenses in the NFC East, it’s clear that runningback DeMarco Murray will be the key deciding factor in which team comes out on top of this division. When Murray is on the field and close to 100% the Cowboys offense becomes so dynamic with its fledging star Dez Bryant, savvy veteran Jason Witten and flourishing rookie talent Terrence Williams. Murray ran sparingly in Week 9 and the Cowboys earned a late game victory against a struggling one-win Minnesota Vikings team. The Cowboys went pass happy and ran the ball nine times against the Vikings for the entire game, abandoning a running attack that could have increased their lead while controlling the game clock. Tony Romo throwing 50-plus times a game may help the Cowboys in close games against subpar teams but 20-25 carries from a healthy DeMarco Murray can crush subpar teams and close games against playoff teams.
Let’s not downplay Robert Griffin III progressing and beginning to mirror what we saw last season from him, but his targets on offense are still flawed. Tight end Jordan Reed is developing but I don’t think RGIII can count on Garcon receiving for almost 200 yards on a consistent basis. No offense to Garcon but he’s known for dropping critical passes that should have been caught and that’s been the problem with the Redskins receivers this season. RGIII is an outstanding player but he can’t do it alone. Alfred Morris also needs the receivers to step up to keep eight players out of the box. Yes, he was able to run the ball effectively in Week 9 but the inconsistency of the receivers may prove this to be a blip rather than a trend.
Nick Foles showed flashes of a power arm with accuracy throwing bombs to DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper in Week 9 but the Eagles have been unable to sustain continuity in their offense week to week. Cooper still isn’t reliable enough to give neither Foles nor Vick a decent second option to DeSean Jackson when the opposing team is just as capable of putting up points in bunches. McCoy is always a threat out of the backfield but can be neutralized if the Eagles developing defense falls behind early.
After their bye week, it’ll be interesting to see the New York Giants gameplan for running the ball and helping Eli Manning realize he doesn’t have to throw the ball up for grabs to give his team a chance. The Giants have the Raiders in Week 10 and an opportunity to build their confidence on the offensive side of the ball.