The Dallas Cowboys said they needed a “wakeup call.”
Well, they got it.
The Philadelphia Eagles pulled off their biggest upset since ... the Super Bowl.
And the Washington Redskins, now running Quarterback 4.0, just won’t die despite another distraction this week.
Welcome to the Week 16 edition of the NFC East Roundup.
Just when we thought we had some clarity, some answers, the Colts blank the Cowboys, Nick Foles rises from the bench once again to lead the Eagles to an improbable win — this time on the road over the Rams — and Washington shows heart after their own spate of injuries (20 guys on IR? 20?!?) and some locker room strife.
So the situation: Dallas (8-6), Philadelphia (7-7) and Washington (7-7). Two games remain.
This week, the Cowboys host the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-9). They remain in control and would capture the East with a victory. But it almost feels like a must-win, at least to the Dallas fanbase.
The Eagles host the AFC South-leading Houston Texans (10-4), and the Redskins travel to Tennessee to face the Titans (8-6).
Meanwhile, Minnesota (7-6-1) has the edge for the sixth and final seed in the NFC playoffs, with the Eagles and Redskins just behind but needing help.
So two playoffs spots still up for grabs among four teams. Let the good times roll.
Here are some of the other big stories around the NFC East this week:
Maybe the Cowboys forgot what it was like to lose after five straight victories?
Then came the 23-0 defeat to the Indianapolis Colts.
Dak Prescott called it a “wakeup call” that “we needed.”
And Ezekiel Elliott described it as “a loss [that] was very much needed” and “better for us in the grand scheme of the season.”
That’s a team that seemed to really need a beating. The tension seems to be rising, at least outside the facility.
Even former Cowboys Super Bowl-stalwart Tony Casillas says “it’s time to lock up the NFC East,” he writes on the Blogging the Boys site.
The good news is Dallas has two weeks to figure out what issues it has — and against poor competition — before the playoffs, writes Tom Ryle.
And the Cowboys are hardly alone among likely playoff-bound teams that suffered a bad loss, Michael Sisemore informs us.
The problem that should worry Dallas is the possible absence again of All-Pro RG Zack Martin (left knee sprain). He missed his first game last week since at least high school, and you saw the results. And he did not practice again Wednesday, according to Dave Halprin.
But in a piece of good news, LG Xavier Su’a-Filo — who was taken to the hospital after suffering a left eye injury against the Colts — practiced on a limited basis and expects to play against the Bucs.
Meanwhile, WR Tavon Austin, who has been out since Week 6 with a groin injury, also was limited.
It’s Foles’ team for at least another week.
He will remain the starter Sunday against the Texans, coach Doug Pederson said. Some already are calling for it to be a permanent change, something Bleeding Green Nation had some fun with here and here.
But what happens to Foles next year for real? The Eagles probably wouldn’t pick up his option, not at $20 million, not unless the stress fracture in Wentz’s back is far worse than they’re letting on.
Although news that Wentz reportedly suffered a stress fracture in his back as a teenager that was discovered during his freshman year at North Dakota State could not have been reassuring.
Speaking of Wentz, his season isn’t necessarily over, the Eagles continue to say. They claim they are merely giving him another week to heal. He has not been placed on injured reserve.
But it’s Foles team for now after completing 24-of-31 attempts for 270 yards and an interception in the 30-23 upset of the Rams. He led the Eagles to the 30-point mark for just the second time this season.
Will he be enough to overcome DeAndre Hopkins and the Texans with a depleted secondary of Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas and Cre’Von LeBlanc? (That was rhetorical, by the way.)
But at least the Eagles are fired up — at least Pederson is.
Just when Washington should be feeling good about itself, winning behind Josh Johnson after losing two quarterbacks to broken legs and one to poor performance… this, Hogs Haven’s Scott Jennings reports.
S Montae Nicholson was arrested early Tuesday for assault and battery and public drunkenness following an altercation he and his girlfriend allegedly had with another couple.
He was subsequently placed on the reserve/non-football injury list.
And yes, TMZ has the video.
Nicholson started the first seven games, but lost his starting job after Washington acquired Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from the Green Bay Packers.
His incident follows Washington’s waiver claim for LB Reuben Foster three days after he was arrested on domestic violence charges and LB Mason Foster’s criticism of fans and some teammates on Instagram.
But hey, if the Redskins are still alive in Week 17, they might get some help. From who you may ask? Some in the organization think Colt McCoy just might be able to return by then from a broken leg.
And if you’re keeping score, CB Joshua Holsey (ACL tear) was the 20th Redskin placed on IR.