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The 5 O’Clock Club: Enjoying the view from the top of the hill

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The 5 o’clock club is published several times per week during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

The Washington Football Team is guaranteed to have the only divisional win for the next month, as we won’t see another inter-divisional game until Week 5, when the Giants will travel to Dallas. Interestingly, is apparently in denial about the Cowboys’ loss to the Rams in Week 1, keeping Dallas at 0-0 and attributing the loss to the Giants instead:

With New York facing off against Pittsburgh tonight, the standings for the NFC East currently look pretty good:

That division record column will remain static for Weeks 2, 3 and 4. With all the vagaries of schedule planning in the midst of a pandemic, the league pushed most of the division matchups back to the latter parts of the season. The four teams of the division have to wait until Week 5 to see another division contest get chalked up in that column, and the Eagles will be waiting until Week 7 to try to notch their first division win of the season when they host the Giants.

The Giants, by the time that Week 7 game is over, will have — like Washington — played every division rival as the next division game for our Washington team is also against the Giants, coming in New Jersey in Week 6, wedged between the G-men’s visits to Dallas and Philly.

The burgundy & gold have their third division game at home against the Cowboys in Week 7 ahead of a Week 8 bye. The division should have begun sorting itself out by then, but for the meantime, Ron Rivera has bragging rights in the NFC East coach’s Zoom conference (division?) calls.

In the meantime, it’s a pretty steady diet of NFC West and AFC North opponents on the horizon.

It’s a bit odd; I’d been so fixated on Week 1 against the Eagles for so long that when the game ended on Sunday and I started to think about next week, I realized that I didn’t even know who was next on the schedule.

If you’re like me, let me help out (I looked it up). Between now and the return to division play, the Football Team will play two games on the road and two games at home.

Week 2 at Arizona
The Cardinals just beat the 49ers, and little Kyler Murray apparently isn’t as easy a target for a dominant pass rush as Carson Wentz was. Murray completed 65 percent of his passes for 230 yards and a 1-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but he made much of his Week 1 impact by keeping the ball in his own hands. Murray led the Cardinals in rushing, with 91 yards on 13 carries, and he kept his offense on the field even when punts seemed imminent. Murray even picked up a third-and-17 by scrambling. Murray was stellar and carried the Cardinals to their first win of 2020.

Week 3 at Browns
The Browns stunk it up on Sunday, losing in Baltimore 38-6. The Browns appeared to have a running attack, but it’s hard to hand the ball to Chubb and Kareem Hunt when you’re falling behind by multiple scores. The Browns’ first two offensive drives of the game ended on turnovers, with Cleveland giving away the ball twice in its first ten offensive plays. Once they were behind by a bunch, they became desperate — like the Eagles, they gave up possession on downs twice in the second half. They can’t get in a hole early and expect to win against a team like the Ravens.

Week 4 home against the Ravens
Speaking of the Ravens...Washington fans may be reminded what it’s like to play a legitimate super bowl contender in Week 4 when the Ravens take the short road trip down I-95 with the reigning league MVP and lofty expectations for a huge 2020 season. After two road games, it doesn’t look like a promising homecoming for the boys in burgundy.

Week 5 home against the Rams
Sean McVay comes home to Washington. His squad did their job on Sunday night at home, with the Rams defense stepping up to spoil Jerry Jones’ night and to christen the Rams’ new home stadium in LA with a big win. The Cowboys lost Vander Esch to a broken collarbone and TE Blake Jarwin to what appears to be an ACL tear. Aside from injuries taking opposing players off the field, the Rams Week 1 game bore other similarities to the WFT win over the Eagles. The game out west also featured a missed field goal by each team and the visiting team also ended two drives by giving up the ball on downs.

All in all, during the next month without divisional play, the Football Team has some opportunities to build on the Week 1 success, but there are challenges in that schedule as well.

But let’s take a moment to enjoy some of this week’s successes.

The defense got 8 sacks — Ryan Kerrigan is now the franchise official leader in career sacks, with 15 games to pad his totals.

Fabian Moreau and Jimmy Moreland each picked off Carson Wentz on eerily similar plays where the two corners each broke on the ball on the same side of the field, stepped in front of an outbreaking recever and took the ball away from him. It appeared as if the coaches spotted a “tell” in Wentz or the Eagles formations — both CBs broke on the ball with confidence that it would be there. I love good coaching and great on-field play.

The team didn’t crack when they were down 17-0. They stayed tough and did what they had to do — beat the opponent one play at a time.

Ron Rivera was getting an IV at halftime as part of his cancer treatment — something that was planned in advance of the game. Dwayne Haskins reportedly spoke to the team at halftime to rally them to the second half surge to victory.

Logan Thomas looked legitimate. Not only did he catch a touchdown pass, but managed to get a tough 3rd down conversion on a smart play, and showed good blocking skills, controlling his man on the critical Peyton Barber second touchdown run.

Yes, that’s right. The burgundy & gold rushed for two touchdowns on Sunday, and both of them belonged to Peyton Barber.

It wasn’t a pretty win, but it was a beautiful one. Sending the Eagles home with their heads down after blowing an early lead and surrendering 27 unanswered points (and let’s face it; it coulda been more; Ron just ran out the clock at the end of the game instead of putting up more points) was wonderful. That was the biggest deficit the Washington team has ever overcome against the Philly team to win in the nearly-90 years that they’ve been playing against each other.

The Football Team won because they played together, didn’t panic, and put their collective feet on the neck of the Eagles and didn’t let up. I’ve been waiting a long time to see that kind of 4th quarter from this team!

For the moment, Rivera has his team sitting atop the NFC East — nobody can move the Washington Football Team out of that spot this week, and the Giants would have to win two games to have a shot at dislodging them in Week 2. The Football Team owns the division, at least for now.

Let’s enjoy the view from the top of the hill.