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NFC East up for grabs following devastating injury to Alex Smith

NFL: Houston Texans at Washington Redskins Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Washington quarterback Alex Smith suffered a brutal leg injury on Sunday against the Houston Texans, ending his season with a broken fibia and tibia. The Texans ended up winning the game 23-21, dropping Washington to 6-4 on the season, just one game ahead of the 5-5 Dallas Cowboys. Colt McCoy came into the game for Smith, completing 6-of-12 passes for 54 yards and one touchdown.

The injury changes the outlook for Washington’s season significantly, as McCoy hasn’t started a game since 2014. The 32-year-old is 7-18 in his career as a starter, having thrown just 23 passes in the last 3.5 years, more than half of which came on Sunday. Perhaps McCoy has an unexpected hot streak in him, but certainly the perception right now is that Washington could lose their lead in the NFC East after having pulled out to an early lead as the Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants all played well below expectations.

But Dallas has now won two in a row following a 22-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The Eagles are in the midst of getting blown out as I write this and will be 4-6 by the end of the day, but they can’t be counted out; believe it or not, neither can the 3-7 Giants, who won 38-35 over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It seems likely that a 9-7 record could win the NFC East, so can New York win out?

The first test for two of these teams come next week as Philly hosts the Giants. The loser of that game will have virtually no shot at the division. If New York wins, they’ll be 4-7 following a 1-7 start. If the Eagles win, they’ll be 5-6 with two games left against Washington and one against the Cowboys.

Dallas has three straight home games now, including against Washington this Thanksgiving; win and they’ll have the same record as Washington, splitting the season series 1-1. If Washington wins, they’ll have a huge advantage, going 2-0 versus the Cowboys with a one game lead in the standings. Despite Smith’s injury, that’s how close they are to a virtual three-game lead in the division with five games to go.

This is all important to the Seattle Seahawks because why? The winner of the NFC East could very well be the four-seed and host the number one wild card team. If the Seahawks beat the Panthers next Sunday, they’ll be in a wild card spot, and they could even be in the five-seed if the Minnesota Vikings take two more losses in that time period.

Washington is trying out three QBs this week who will not do anything to help their chances.