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This week in the NFC East
Texans (6-3) at Redskins (6-3)
The NFC East has an interesting week on tap. All four Sunday games have the division teams playing non-division opponents, with the Cowboys, Giants and Eagles playing NFC rivals, while the Redskins host the AFC South division leading Texans.
The three one o’clock games look like good matchups, though the late game could be a hard one for Eagles fans to watch.
Let’s turn to the FanPulse surveys to see what they say, and let’s start with that Eagles game in New Orleans against the NFC’s top team, the Saints.
Philadelphia at New Orleans
The readers from the Saints’ SB Nation blog, the Canal Street Chronicles, are predicting an 11-point win for the home team.
It appears that they’ll get no argument from the readers of Bleeding Green Nation, who predicted exactly the same outcome with exactly the same point spread.
Redskins fans will be counting on the Saints to take care of business on Sunday afternoon. If the Eagles fall lto 4-6 with six games remaining, their playoff hopes would begin to flicker like a candle in the wind. The Eagles still have to face the Rams, Texans and the Redskins (twice).
The Eagles are 2-4 in their last 6 games, with the two victories coming against the Giants and Jaguars. The win against the Jags was loss number 4 for Jacksonville in their current five game losing streak. I think back to the preseason predictions from BGN fans who were ‘gifting’ the Week 17 matchup to the Redskins on the theory that Philly would have the division locked up and would be resting their starters and smile. I’m not at all unhappy to see this Philly team floundering in search of a meaningful win and unlikely to get it this week.
Tampa Bay at New York
This is the game no one expects to win.
Each of the two fan bases have predicted a one-point loss for their team.
The Buccaneers fans are battered and bruised at the moment, and who can blame them? They started the season with back-to-back wins over the Saints and Eagles (yes, the Saints’ only loss this season was against Tampa Bay in Week 1), but things unraveled quickly after that. The team has benched two different quarterbacks, and the coach and front office find themselves in an uncomfortable position similar to the one the Redskins faced in 2015 with RG3; the Bucs have exercised the fifth-year option on Jameis Winston with its 100% injury guarantee, and have no reason to play him again this season if they don’t believe he’s the future of the franchise.
The Giants have their own quarterback questions that will likely need to be answered in the late season games and the 2019 draft. The team really should play Kyle Lauletta a bit to see what they have with him, but last year’s aborted benching of Eli Manning by Ben McAdoo was such a shitshow that it’s almost impossible to sit Eli again, no matter how bad things get.
When you're washed af, but still might be able to win enough games so they can't draft your replacement pic.twitter.com/om2JCmOqos— NFL Retweet (@NFLRT) November 13, 2018
The Eli question will need to be answered in April with the NFL’s annual player selection meeting. The Giants will have to draft a quarterback this year after eschewing the opportunity to take Sam Darnold last April.
That means that the Giants need to be picking very near the top of the draft, so every win takes them a little further away from being able to do easily what they have to do. It will be hard for me to feel disappointed with the outcome of this game, whatever it is.
Dallas at Atlanta
Fresh off their first road victory this season, the Cowboys are flushed with confidence, and going up against a faltering Falcons team that lost to the Browns on the road in Week 10.
Cowboys fans and Falcons fans each see this as a close game, with each group of fans picking their team to win by one point.
I can understand both groups’ points of view. But looking back at the previous ten weeks, I see that the Falcons have lost to the Eagles, Saints, Bengals, and Steelers. On the winning side of the ledger, aside from the Redskins, the Falcons have won games against the Panthers, Buccaneers and Giants.
The question is: Which group of opponents does Dallas naturally fit into?
Looking beyond this week’s game, with the Redskins, Saints and Eagles still on tap in the Cowboys’ final 6 games, it’s hard to see Dallas running the table to win the division, which will be pretty much what they will have to do if they fall to the Falcons this week.
Houston at Washington
I put together a bit of a preview of this game in Saturday’s 5 o’clock club.
- Redskins fans have predicted a 3-point victory for the home team.
- Texans fans have predicted a 3-point victory for the visitors.
Like the Giants and Cowboys games, this one looks fairly evenly matched, with both teams 6-3 and leading their respective divisions.
The Texans are riding a 6-game win streak, but none of the wins has, by itself, been against a particularly impressive opponent. Houston has beaten (in order): Colts, Cowboys, Bills, Jaguars, Dolphins, Broncos.
The Texans have been held to 17 points, 19 (twice), 20 (three times), and 22 in seven of their nine games. They scored 37 against the Colts at home and 42 versus the Dolphins on the road.
Houston is ranked 14th in the NFL in offensive yards per game (369.1) and 16th in points per game (24), which makes their offense statistically much less powerful than the Tampa Bay offense, though they are loaded with top-end talent.
The Redskins are currently ranked 17th in yards allowed per game (361) and 4th in points per game, at 19.4, after giving up 501 yards and 3 points last week in Florida.
Both teams will want to win in order to protect their respective division leads, but someone is going to lose. The fact that the Texans have struggled to score in seven of nine games this season heartens me, but that six game win streak bothers me.
I liked what I saw from the Redskins’ piecemeal offensive line last week, and I think that, with Jonathan Cooper taking over at left guard, the unit will be okay when Trent Williams is healthy enough to play effectively.
Bucs tried Cooper early and often with stunts. Handled them well (might even go as far as to say better than Skins typically handle stunts/games). First pass rep here, read the stunt early, passed it off and picked it up easily pic.twitter.com/xVEEhM8jVM— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) November 13, 2018
In the meantime, it wouldn’t shock me to see the Redskins lose this week as they try to recover from early and mid-season injuries. This is an AFC opponent, so, in terms of tie-breakers, is one of the least important games, but with only a two-game lead in the division, I’d feel a lot better if the Redskins win this week.
The Redskins face the Cowboys (on Thanksgiving day), Eagles and Giants in the next three games. Win or lose against the Texans on Sunday, with wins in Weeks 12, 13 and 14, the Redskins can pretty much assure themselves of a division title and a playoff spot.