Less than a year ago, the Washington Redskins were celebrating their first NFC East title since 2012 after winning six of their last eight games and four straight to finish a respectable 9-7 and enter the playoffs as a dismal division’s only representative.
Despite ending its three-year playoff drought and winning one of the league’s most perennially tough divisions, Washington performed exactly as you’d expect the champion of a group that included just one winning record to perform in the post-season, losing 35-18 at home to the Green Bay Packers on Wild Card Weekend. But in today’s parity-driven NFL, a lot can change in 11 months.
This season, the NFC East has once again turned the tables on a variety of pre-season projections and enters Week 13 with a firm hold on the NFC playoff picture. At the top, the 10-1 Dallas Cowboys have beaten the odds to find their starting quarterback of the future just when it looked like they were doomed by the loss of Tony Romo, and if the post-season began today, the conference’s top team would be joined by both the 8-3 New York Giants and the 6-5 Redskins.
During the first offensive series of the Cowboys’ pre-season loss to the Seattle Seahawks on August 26th, Romo went down with a back injury that forced head coach Jason Garrett to hand the offense to rookie Dak Prescott. At the time, the move was little more than Garrett’s way of protecting his injury-prone quarterback. But with the help of rookie running back sensation Ezekiel Elliot, Prescott has guided Dallas to the league’s best record while giving Cowboy fans reason to believe in a very bright future.
In the Empire State, the Giants survived an early three-game slide and enter this week’s action with six straight wins to their credit despite a suspect run-game and an offense that currently ranks 22nd in total yards [3,695]. Without injured running back Shane Vereen, who’s just returned to practice after missing each of the last nine games with a triceps injury, the Giants have relied on Eli Manning and the team’s potent passing attack to power the offense while an improved defense has given Big Blue an actual shot to make the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Last Week’s Thanksgiving Day loss to Dallas snapped Washington’s two-game winning streak and allowed the 5-6 Philadelphia Eagles to pull within one win of the reigning NFC East champs. That loss also marked the beginning of the Redskins’ run of three straight road games, and if Washington [6-4-1] is going to hang-on to one of the NFC’s two Wild Cards, starting quarterback Kirk Cousins and company must find a way to win in Arizona against the Cardinals on Sunday and in Philadelphia on December 11th.
Following a deceiving 3-0 start, an early bye week sent the Eagles into a 2-6 tailspin that’s most recently included a pair of consecutive losses to the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. To be fair, each of Philly’s last eight outings have come against teams that are currently in the playoff hunt. But with their final four games of the regular season scheduled against Washington, the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens, the Giants, and Cowboys, things aren’t going to get any easier for the Eagles after they travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals this weekend.
During the last ten-plus years, the NFC East has been one of football’s most unpredictable divisions. Washington, Dallas, and Philadelphia have all claimed division crowns since 2013, and no team has won consecutive NFC East championships since the Eagles won their fourth straight in 2004.
While Dallas doesn’t look like its going to lose its two-win lead on New York, a season-ending showdown could offer all four teams one last chance to significantly improve their respective playoff positions. In Week 17, the Redskins will host the Giants and the Eagles will entertain the Cowboys on what’s shaping-up to be one of the most important days in recent division history. Of course, that day will only remain significant to the NFC playoff picture if the Giants, Redskins, and Eagles can keep pace with the Cowboys during the next four weeks.
Broncos’ Von Miller Avoids Charges for Bloody Shark Photo on Instagram
Denver Broncos superstar linebacker Von Miller will not face charges for catching and posing with a bloody hammerhead shark back in 2018, according to documents from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (h/t Deadspin).
Miller came under fire for a controversial photo posted on his Instagram story last year showing him with the bloody shark.
According to Florida Law, catching and releasing in this particular scenario would be fine, as long as the shark was “immediately returned to the water free, alive, and unharmed.”
Per TMZ Sports, Miller and the group pushed the shark back overboard after catching it, and the compilation of Miller’s Instagram story shows that process as well as the shark swimming away.
Despite that, and as Deadspin’s story points out, the picture doesn’t exactly 100% convince that the shark was “unharmed”.
According to USA Today, the boat Miller was on was called ‘Spellbound’ and the owner and operator of the boat were not as fortunate as Miller in regards to the investigation.
“Owner and operator were charged under the Magnuson-Stevens Act for fishing for sharks without the proper permit and for failure to release a shark in the manner that will ensure maximum probability of survival. A $2,000 NOVA was issued.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission classifies hammerhead sharks as a Group 3 shark, and harvesting them in state waters can be met with a second degree misdemeanor.
In the state of Florida, second-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail, as determined by a judge.
Miller defended himself following the post, claiming that the shark didn’t die; “Everybody knows that I hunt and fish. It’s what I do” Miller said (h/t ESPN).
“But I also believe in conservation. I’m not just out there going crazy. We followed the rules. I did everything I was supposed to do.”
Raiders’ Antonio Brown Settles Lawsuit
New Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown, who was acquired via trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this offseason, has struck a settlement with a man, Ophir Sternberg, that claimed that he nearly killed a toddle by throwing furniture off of a Miami apartment building balcony, according to TMZ.
In the lawsuit, Sternberg claims his 22-month-old son was walking around the pool at the high-end apartment complex back in April 2018 when suddenly “large objects started to fall from the building many floors above them.”
Sternberg claimed that Brown tossed everything from vases, an ottoman, and other pieces of furniture from the balcony and they landed within feet of the toddler.
Brown had denied throwing the items, claiming that it was another person who had access to his apartment on that day.
Police responded to the scene and reported that Brown was “very agitated” and yelling when they arrived, noting that people have been trying to calm Brown down.
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Eagles’ Jalen Mills Arrested
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills was arrested in Washington D.C following an altercation with Washington Wizards player Devin Robinson, according to the Associated Press’ Howard Fendrich (via the Washington Post).
Both men were charged with disorderly affray, which is described as fighting in a public place.
According to the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner, a verbal altercation broke out between the two that escalated into a physical fight that took place on the sidewalk.
Robinson was transported to a hospital following the fight with Mills and upon his release he was taken to to department’s 2nd District station where Mills was detained.
Mills and Robinson were “involved in a verbal altercation which escalated into a physical altercation on the sidewalk adjacent to the Opera Night Club” in the early hours of Saturday morning, according to the police report.
Both teams have since responded, with the Wizards essentially parting ways with Robinson due to the incident.
“We are aware of the incident this morning involving Devin and are disappointed in his actions. We will not extend him a qualifying offer for the 2019-20 season,” the Wizards said in a statement.
The Eagles issued a statement saying that they are “aware of the situation” and “continuing to gather more information.”
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