NFC East is now the top division in the conference
John Schmeelk: Fact – It’s hard to argue otherwise, with the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys combining for a 10-2 record. The Eagles are the only undefeated team in the NFL, and the Giants and Cowboys are two of four NFC teams with a 3-1 record. The NFC West disappointed with the lackluster start of the Rams and Cardinals. The Bucs are in first place in the NFC South but only 2-2. The Saints, a popular preseason playoff pick, are just 1-3. The Packers and Vikings are 3-1, but the Lions and Bears trail the Cowboys and Giants. It’s not the NFC Least anymore, at least for the first four games of the season.
Dan Solomon: Fact – In the words of Michael Scott: “Well, well, how the turntables…” A punchline for the past few seasons, the NFC East, which is the only division that has four franchises with Super Bowl titles in their history , is now a combined 11-5. All four teams are 3-1 against NFC North, 1-1 against NFC South, 1-0 against AFC North and 3-0 against NFC South.
Lance Medow: Fact – Based on record alone, it certainly is because the NFC East is the only division in the conference that features three teams with winning ratings. When all is said and done, that may not be the case. But as it stands this division has some substance behind it with the Eagles relying on a strong running game and solid defense, the Cowboys have been equally impressive if not better on defense while the quarterback- Substitute fullback Cooper Rush proved to be a force stabilizer under center and the Giants relied on their rushing offense and solid defense. We can’t sleep on NFC West, which also had some surprises at the start of the season and the Lions are much better than their record (1-3), adding a little more depth to NFC North. That being said, at least for the first quarter of the season, no other group leads the East in consistency.
Matt Citak: Fiction – The NFC East is the only division in the league with three teams above .500 heading into Week 5. However, the NFC West is still the top division in the conference. All four NFC West teams are currently 2-2. The Seattle Seahawks surprised many with their first month of the season, as Geno Smith currently leads the NFL by a wide margin with a 77.3 completion percentage. Despite the loss of Trey Lance, the San Francisco 49ers still have Jimmy Garoppolo to lead the offense and possibly the best defense in the league. While the Los Angeles Rams have struggled a bit, it’s hard to count the defending Super Bowl champions. Finally, the Arizona Cardinals have been solid on offense despite the absence of DeAndre Hopkins, who was suspended for the first six games. The NFC West entered the year widely regarded as the best division in the conference, and through four games it still earns that designation.
Saquon Barkley will touch the ball at least 30 times on Sunday
John Schmelk: Fact – You could go the other way here given Daniel Jones’ mobility in training on Wednesday, but why? Jones was healthy for most of the game against the Bears and Saquon Barkley still had 33 touches. No one emphasizes positional value more, but there’s a fair argument to be made that Barkley should be in the MVP conversation if the season ended today. He leads the NFL in rushing yards, scrimmage yards and touches. Barkley has accounted for 43% of the Giants’ 1,328 yardage this season. He wouldn’t win it because of the big quarterback play in the league (Mahomes, Allen, Hurts, etc.) this season, but he’d be the best non-quarterback (with Cooper Kupp) in consideration.
Dan Solomon: Fact – Given the health of the wide receivers and the uncertain statuses of their quarterbacks, no number can be considered too high for this game. He is off to the best start in franchise history in rushing.
Lance Medow: Fiction – Saquon Barkley has only touched the ball at least 30 times in four games this season and it’s a result of the Giants relying heavily on the ground attack and playing up front for the majority of the game against the Bears. They only attempted 16 passes. The Packers game will be more in line with the first three contests in which Barkley had 24 touches or less in each – 33 touches won’t be the norm going forward.
Matt Citak: Fact – Barkley has only touched the ball 30 times this season, in last week’s win over the Bears. Injuries to Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor, as well as poor weather conditions, certainly played a role in the number of touches he had. But there’s no reason for the Giants to deviate from that game plan. Barkley led the Giants to the league’s No.1 rushing offense, averaging an incredible 192.5 yards per game. Meanwhile, the Packers are giving up 126.8 rushing yards per game. It would benefit the Giants to keep the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands for as long as possible on Sunday. One way to do this is to buy time for the possession battle by establishing the run, which starts and ends with Barkley.