Final Word: NFC East

November, 30, 2012
11/30/12
1:30
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Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 13:

Tough times. The Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys haven't met in a game in which they both had losing records since ... well, since three weeks ago. But before that, the last time was Oct. 28, 1990. The 5-6 Cowboys host the 3-8 Eagles on Sunday night in Arlington, Texas, having beaten the Eagles 38-23 in Week 10 in Philadelphia. Eagles coach Andy Reid is 17-10 in his career against the Cowboys, which gives him the most victories against the Cowboys of any coach in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. (Joe Gibbs has 15, Tom Coughlin 12.)

[+] EnlargeJason Garrett
Elsa/Getty ImagesCan Jason Garrett's Cowboys end their Sunday night skid with the struggling Eagles visiting Dallas?
Ready for prime time? The Cowboys have lost eight straight Sunday night games (defined as games that begin later than 5 p.m. local time on Sundays) since 2010. The streak is interesting enough, but it's also somewhat remarkable that this will be the Cowboys' ninth Sunday night game in the past three seasons. They were 10-2 in Sunday night games from 2006 to 2009, so this is a relatively new trend, in case you were looking for something else for which to blame Jason Garrett.

Third and wrong. The New York Giants, according to ESPN Stats & Information, have had just 12 plays this season in which they have faced third down and 11 or more yards. That's the lowest such figure in the league, and they are 4-for-12 on such plays. The Washington Redskins, by contrast, have had 34 third-down plays of 11 yards or longer and have converted just two of them. I imagine this is a better indicator of the job the Giants do on first and second downs to stay out of third-and-long situations than it is of these teams' relative ability to convert third-and-very-long plays. It's worth mentioning, however, that the Redskins' defense has allowed the third-highest opponents third-down conversion percentage in the league this year. Opponents convert 44.9 percent of third downs against the Redskins, including 59.4 percent on third downs of 5 yards or fewer.

Keep him outside. In the Week 7 game against the Redskins in New Jersey, Giants quarterback Eli Manning was just 5-for-13 with no touchdowns and two interceptions on throws outside the numbers; he was 21-for-27 on throws over the middle (including his very memorable final one for a touchdown). The Redskins have given Manning fits in coverage the past two years. He has thrown just one touchdown pass and six interceptions while going 1-2 against them since the start of 2011.

Watch out for the fake. The Giants' pass rush will have to contend with Robert Griffin III's play-action passing game again. He has used a play-action fake on nearly 40 percent of his drop backs this year, according to ESPN Stats & Info, and he is averaging a league-best 12.2 yards per pass attempt when using play action. He was 7-for-10 for 107 yards using play action against the Giants in Week 7. The threat that Griffin himself will take off and run with the ball compounds the difficulty that defenses already have handling his play-action fakes, because even if they spot the ball still in his hand, he can still elude pass-rushers when the play breaks down.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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