Darius Slayton Credit: Bill Moore photo

For the second consecutive season, none of the four teams in the NFC East has distinguished themselves as the clear favorite to win the division title as the 17-game schedule enters December. The Dallas Cowboys are currently in first place at 7-4 but their hold has become increasingly tenuous.

After a 6-1 start and showing the characteristics of a potential Super Bowl caliber contender, the Cowboys have lost three out of their last four games and are 7-4 heading into their matchup tonight versus the New Orleans Saints on the road.

The Cowboys are the only team above .500 in the NFC East, as the second place Washington Football Team is 5-6, followed by the 5-7 Philadelphia Eagles.

The 4-7 Giants are in last place, but they have an opportunity to gain ground in the coming weeks. Their 13-7 victory over the Eagles last Sunday at MetLife Stadium, their third win over the last five games, provided the Giants a sliver of hope they can miraculously make a push for a playoff spot.

The odds are still heavily stacked against them, but it serves as motivation with three games remaining in the division. The Giants face the Cowboys at MetLife Dec. 19, the Eagles on the road Dec. 26, and close out the regular season against Washington at home in New Jersey.

Yet they must first get by the 5-7 Dolphins in Miami this Sunday to maintain their dubious playoff chances. The Giants’ firing of Jason Garrett as the offensive coordinator last week and assigning the play-calling responsibilities to offensive assistant coach Freddie Kitchens, who was the Cleveland Browns’ head coach from Week 9 of the 2018 season through the 2019 season, had no tangible positive outcomes versus the Eagles.

Head coach Joe Judge, who according to recent media reports wanted to dismiss the former Cowboys head coach last season but couldn’t because of Garrett’s strong support from Giants ownership, didn’t see the offense improve in any discernible way. They only had 264 total yards and generated just three points in the first half before scoring their only touchdown at 6:50 of the third quarter, a one-yard pass from quarterback Daniel Jones to tight end Chris Myarick.

Jones, who had a mediocre performance going 19-30 for 202 yards and no turnovers, could be sidelined for the game against the Dolphins with a strained neck, suffered in the opening minutes versus the Eagles. Backup Mike Glennon would fill in as starter. Jones’ absence would further burden an offensive group that is ranked 26 in average yards per game (317.5) and laboring at 18.4 points per game.

The 24-year-old Jones is near the bottom of the quarterback metrics, sitting at 25th in the National Football League with a QBR (total quarterback rating) of 40.9. In 11 games he has passed for 2.428 yards (20th), thrown 10 touchdowns (25th) and has seven interceptions (14th).

Now in his third year, Jones has also lost his symbiotic connection with wide receiver Darius Slayton. The pair entered the league together in 2019, Jones the sixth pick in the first round out of Duke and Slayton a fifth round selection from Auburn. The two developed immediate chemistry and Slayton had a promising rookie campaign, catching 48 passes for 740 yards and eight touchdowns.

Despite a drop to just three touchdowns last season, Slayton led the Giants in receiving yards with 751 on 50 catches. But in eight games this season—he has been out three games due to injury—Slayton has been targeted only 37 times for 19 receptions, 267 yards and one touchdown. This season, rookie reciever Kadarius Toney, who has played in nine of the Giants 11 games, has a team best 35 receptions and 392 yards.

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