Football (158806)
Football Credit: Pixabay

It was a few days past mid-September, and the 2016 NFL season had merely reached the conclusion of 
week 2. But in the nation’s capital, as in many other cities across the United States where professional football is an inextricable and emotional component of the social fabric, fans were already in a panic.

Washington had lost their first two games to the Pittsburg Steelers and longtime NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys, respectively, and now faced the prospect of going a precarious 0-3 as they readied to take on the 2-0 New York Giants on the road. Furthermore, there were widespread yet unsubstantiated reports that several members of the team’s offensive unit were unconvinced that quarterback Kirk Cousins, who had a breakout season in 2015, his first as Washington’s fulltime starter, possessed the necessities to lead them toward a Super Bowl run after guiding them to the playoffs seven months earlier.

Yet after escaping MetLife Stadium with a narrow 29-27 win over the Giants led by Cousins, who passed for 296 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, fears and conjecture were put to rest as Washington went on to win their next three games.

This past Sunday night, Cousins loudly shouted, “How you like me now?” while excitedly prancing on the turf at legendary Lambeau Field after Washington’s 42-24 thrashing of the 4-6 Green Bay Packers, which elevated them to 6-3. Cousins certainly had a right to rhetorically ask the question. He had hung 375 yards, with three TDs and no interceptions on the Packers, and the free-agent to be at the end of this season was increasing his leverage for a potential deal from Washington or another franchise that should exceed $60 million in guaranteed money.

The 28-year-old fifth-year pro from Michigan State will now have an even bigger stage to prove his worth when Washington goes up against the 9-1 Cowboys, who hold the best record in the league, in Dallas this afternoon (Thanksgiving Day) at 4:30 p.m. on national television.

Washington, as well as the 7-3 Giants and 5-5 Eagles, are all chasing the Cowboys in the NFC East, the only division in the NFL in which all of its teams are at or above .500. After several years of mediocrity, the division that has a combined 12 Super Bowl titles—the Eagles are the only team that hasn’t won a Super Bowl—once again is the best in professional football.