(CBS DFW) -- The Dallas Cowboys come into Week 5 with a handle on the NFC East. They've won three in a row, most recently putting up 36 points on the undefeated Carolina Panthers, who boasted one of the NFL's top defenses. They're followed by the Washington Football Team, who are off to a disappointing start. What was supposed to be one of the NFL's top defenses is giving up yards and points in bunches. If not for a fair bit of luck, WFT could easily be winless.
That would still put them only a game behind the 1-3 New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants seem to be emerging from the growing pains they've suffered with Daniel Jones in recent years. The Eagles, however, are still adapting to life in the Jalen Hurts era. While their young dual-threat quarterback provides plenty of excitement, they've still lost three straight.
CBS DFW sports anchor Bill Jones looks at the three NFC East matchups in Week 5.
All times listed are Eastern.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers, Sunday, October 10 @ 1:00 p.m.
The Eagles defense has given up over 40 points in recent weeks. The Cowboys put up 41 two weeks ago, and the Chiefs scored 42 last week. Dak Prescott threw for three touchdowns, and Patrick Mahomes had five of his own in those Eagles losses. While big losses to two of the NFL's most high-powered offenses isn't necessarily the best measure of a defense, it does suggest they are prone to allowing points.
The Carolina Panthers could welcome back Christian McCaffrey from a strained hamstring. That would be a boost to the unit. According to Jones, "Carolina is doing just enough offensively, even without Christian McCaffrey at running back. Sam Darnold has found a new home in Carolina. He's taking care of the football when he's not going up against Trevon Diggs and the Cowboys, of course."
Darnold has been productive, when his offensive line gives him time. He went 26-39 for 301 yards and two TDs against the Cowboys and 23-34 for 304 yards against the Texans. But their defense has been stifling, at least up until their first loss.
"The Panthers came into last week's game against the Cowboys with the number-one-ranked defense in the league, number one against the run, number one against the pass," Jones notes. "But we saw what the Cowboys did against them, put up 36 points on Carolina in the first three quarters of that game."
Philadelphia has been adapting to life under second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts. The Eagles have lost three straight after their Week 1 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Hurts' numbers have been solid, both as a runner and a passer -- 56.5 and 291.8 yards respectively -- but his production hasn't led to wins.
According to Jones, "Philadelphia doesn't have the same kind of offense that the Cowboys have, and the focus is on Jalen Hurts, as he tries to evolve into an NFL-caliber quarterback. He's passed for a lot of yards, but a lot of that has been late in games. Like a couple of weeks ago against the Cowboys they got over 300 yards because they were so far behind."
New Orleans Saints @ Washington Football Team, Sunday, October 10 @ 1:00 p.m.
Washington is coming off a late win over the Falcons, while the Saints lost a tough one to the Giants in overtime. Both teams sit at 2-2, in a season that's already had its share of ups and downs. Washington lost starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1, and has been led by the exciting though inexperienced Taylor Heinicke. The Saints had to deal with being uprooted from New Orleans.
"The Saints, it's amazing, they started the year with a 38-3 win in Jacksonville against the Green Bay Packers," Jones noted. "It was very disappointing for them, last week, losing their first game at home in New Orleans after having to transplant. Here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, they were working out at TCU for nearly a full month. So it was very disappointing for them to lose that game."
The Saints have also had their issues on offense of late. Jameis Winston has only topped 200 yards passing in one game this season. That's a far cry from the standard Drew Brees set in his years with the team. According to Jones, "it's a struggle offensively, even though Sean Payton is very creative as an offensive play caller, with Jameis Winston at quarterback. And they uses Taysom Hill some as well."
The Washington defense was supposed to be team strength coming into the season. But they're allowing 417.5 yards and 30.5 points per game so far, fourth and third worst in the NFL respectively. That's with basically the same lineup that made them one of the league's top-ranked units last season. What defense will show up against the Saints?
"I think Washington's defense is just too tough," Jones said. "I think Washington has gotten off to a disappointing start, because a lot of people pick them to win the division. But with a defense that's pretty solid, that'll keep you in games."
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, October 10 @ 4:25 p.m.
While the Giants are 1-3 and the Cowboys are 3-1, records often don't matter much in division matchups. Daniel Brown is coming off a career performance against the Saints, piling up 402 yards and two TDs on 28-40 passing. "Daniel Jones is playing the best football that he's played in his three-year NFL career. He's now in his third year. He's the NFC Offensive Player of the Week from last week, having thrown for over 400 yards against the Saints last week."
And Jones will lead a Giants team into Dallas that easily could be 3-1. "I wouldn't sleep on the Giants," warned Jones. "When you look at what the Giants have done so far, their strength of schedule has not been that great. But a couple of weeks ago, Thursday night game against Washington, they had the game won. Dexter Lawrence jumps offsides on the field goal attempt by Washington that was no good, gave them a second chance. Washington kicks the field goal to win, 30-29. Then the next week against Atlanta, they lose on a last-second field goal, 17-14. They come back and win last week. They could easily be 2-2, if Dexter Lawrence doesn't jump offsides in that Washington game. And they could also be 3-1 if they just pull out that tight game against Atlanta a couple weeks ago."
The Cowboys could easily be 4-0, if not for the last-minute heroics of Tom Brady in Week 1. Their offense is averaging 420.8 yards and 31.5 points, both top five in the league. And Dak Prescott has been impressive in his return under center. According to Jones, "as long as the Cowboys don't pay attention to the hype and keep a level head, and so forth and continue to run the football and have a balanced offense, like they've had in the last couple of weeks, they should be able to win this game."
The Dallas defense has been a little shaky so far this season, giving up 396.3 yards per game. And that presents an opportunity for a Giants team looking to come into its own.
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