The Cowboys (5–6) are all but on to 2018. After getting blown out by the surging Chargers at home on Thanksgiving, the team will inevitably take the long weekend to reflect on what their offense looks like in a post-Ezekiel Elliott world (the offense has only scored 22 points in three games without him).
Dak Prescott threw two interceptions on Thursday, bringing his turnover tally up to five in the last two games. Before Nov. 19, 2017, Prescott had just two multiple interception games in his career. What struck me about Dallas’ offense on Sunday was how positively out of ideas they were. That doesn’t mean they aren’t trying—offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was pulling everything out of his bag Thursday—but at some point it’s difficult to pilot an offense that requires a very specific, but unavailable, component to work. Once again, the Cowboys’ top two rushers went for more than four yards per carry but an otherwise stagnant offense watched Los Angeles build up a 16-point lead over three quarters.
Meanwhile, Philip Rivers is playing video-game football again. His once-telekinetic relationship with Keenan Allen has returned, and on Thursday, Allen caught 11 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown on 14 targets. Over the last two weeks, he has 23 catches for 331 yards and three touchdowns.
The Chargers—who in 1992 became the only franchise in NFL history to reach the playoffs after starting 0–4—have now won five of their last seven games in a division that seems to be regressing to the mean. They have the Cleveland Browns next week, with an incredible chance to sit at .500 after 12 games.
Case Keenum tossed three total touchdowns to go along with a 95.6 quarterback rating as the Vikings climb to 9–2 on the season. Head coach Mike Zimmer has navigated some incredibly unfortunate personnel situations over his tenure in Minnesota, and perhaps this is the karmic payoff.
Keenum, who is in line to make himself a substantial income this offseason, dotted passes to six different wide receivers, Latavius Murray gained 4.2 yards per carry on 20 carries and Adam Thielen continues to be one of the most sure-handed, difficult-to-guard wide receivers in football.
In Detroit, the story will be Matthew Stafford’s ankle. The quarterback injured himself in the fourth quarter and, according to ESPN, said “Not 100%. But ticker’s still ticking, so we’ll be all right.”
Detroit’s reality right now? A top-heavy NFC east is passing them by. A golden opportunity with Aaron Rodgers out for the season is slipping away. Their remaining schedule is fortuitous—Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Cincinnati and Green Bay—but can they find enough complementary offense to Stafford to win the games they’re supposed to?
Washington 20, New York Giants 10
On an evening that certainly did not quiet the “fire Ben McAdoo” brigade, the Giants put up a completely lifeless offensive performance in prime time. Eli Manning had 113 passing yards and no touchdowns—the second time in two weeks and third time total this season Manning did not have a single passing touchdown. The Giants posted six total first downs and have still not put up more than 24 points once this year.
This Giants team is barreling toward some cringe worthy franchise lows. Earlier this week, Washington head coach Jay Gruden made the Odell Beckham excuse—the one McAdoo cannot make publicly for himself. But should any offense with a potentially Hall of Fame quarterback be this bad?
On the bright side for Washington, they bounce back on short rest from a deflating loss to the Saints. Despite Kirk Cousins getting sacked six times, he was able to chuck a pair of touchdown passes and push forward a team that strangely doesn’t feel “out of it” just yet. Washington’s remaining schedule? The limping Cowboys, the Chargers, the Cardinals, the Broncos and the Giants again.