STAMFORD, CT – The NFC East has traditionally been one of the toughest divisions in football. For years, if you came out of the NFC East, you were battle-tested and had a pretty good chance at winning it all. The division has the most Super Bowl wins, with 13 and is tied for the most Super Bowl appearances, at 21 with the AFC East. But “the first one now will later be last,” said the great Bob Dylan, because “the times they are a-changin’.” The division has become the Eric Trump of the NFL, but someone has to win it. Let’s dissect the remaining schedule and see if we can handicap these horses.
Sched: Seattle, at Green Bay, New Orleans, at Arizona, at Dallas, Washington
Currently in the lead by virtue of a tie, the Eagles are in the pole position. But they won’t be on Thursday evening, assuming someone manages to win the Cowboys WTF game on Thanksgiving.
It’s all downhill from there. The next four games are almost all surely losses. It’s actually possible that in this crap division they could lose all four, then beat the Snyders and the Cowboys in their last two and still win the division. It would be fitting if all four teams finished with five wins and the Eagles win it because of a stupid tie with the stupid Bengals, in a game everyone criticized them for playing too conservatively in OT.
Something is not right with them. They got away from the run too soon against the Giants and the Browns. They kept targeting Bradberry, by the far the Giants’ best cover guy. Wentz has been massively inconsistent and looks jittery in the pocket. The play calling has been confusing and the offensive line has been spotty.
Sched: at Cincinnati, at Seattle, Arizona, Cleveland, at Baltimore, Dallas
Optimism has risen with the Giants’ two-game (could have easily been four) winning streak, but it’s a little too early to plan the parade. This week is a must win vs the Bengals, especially with Burrow out. And Week 17 against the Cowboys is also a must win. But they’ll probably be underdogs in the other four. They’ll likely need to steal one of those to get to six wins and have a shot.
The Giants are capable of beating one of those teams, heck, they should have beaten the Bucs. All four of them have flaw and they will look to eek out one win in there somewhere.
Maybe getting the X-men back in Oshane Ximines and Xavier McKinney will put them over the top and help them find that third win. But they might be better off if they don’t win the division. The difference between a playoff team and a four or five win non-playoff team will be about 15 drafts spots.
Sched: at Dallas, at Pittsburgh, at San Francisco, Seattle, Carolina, at Philadelphia
Hey, if you won’t name your team, I will. With a win against the Bengals, WFT might just be mediocre enough to win this thing. WTF, WFT? While it would be appropriate that the Eagles tie vs the Bengals wins them the division, it would also be fun if the Eagles didn’t win the division because they were the only team that couldn’t beat the Bengals.
Otherwise, WFT has an advantage will only two games against top tier teams. Their other games should have relatively small spreads. If they can win the two division games and then take one of the 49ers or Panthers games, that would probably do it.
Maybe Alex Smith is right guy at the right time, the ultimate mediocre QB to win this mediocre division. It would be quite the comeback story, especially if they could somehow pull an upset in the Wild Card round. It was sad that his first win as a starter after his horrific injury came in a game where Burrow went down with a bad injury. The circle of QB life, I guess.
Sched: Washington, at Baltimore, at Cincinnati, San Francisco, Philadelphia, at NY Giants
Miraculously, with the return of the Red Rocket and a big upset of the Vikings, this team’s chances of winning the division are real. In fact, they have the most control of their own destiny, with three division games left. And they only have one really tough game, five of the six left are sort of winnable.
I don’t mean to alarm you, but this could really happen. If they win their three division games, though unlikely, that will almost definitely be enough. And if they win two out of three division games, they could still beat the lowly Bengals or the 49ers game and take the division.
I don’t think they’ll do it, but the schedule sure makes it possible.
Break it Down for Me
There’s a pretty plausible scenario where the Giants and WFT end up tied with five wins and the Giants win the division on the head-to-head tiebreaker. It would mean the Eagles only win one more game vs the Cowboys, the Cowboys only win one more game vs the Bengals, WFT wins only two more games vs the Cowboys and Eagles, and the Giants win two more games vs the Bengals and Cowboys. If the likely favorites win every game left (which of course won’t happen) that might be how it would play out.
Six wins looks like the magic number. Which team can pull the big upset and get to six? The Eagles schedule is too hard and the Cowboys might have the worst defense in the league. It’s hard to see the Giants finding that 6th win. The health of the 49ers, who play the Cowboys and WFT, could play a big role in deciding the division.
WFT wins it at 6-10.
You don’t need Patrick Mahomes (Smith’s former understudy) to win this division, a game manager might be enough. Don’t screw it up, stand aside and let the other teams self-destruct.
The Wankers have a decent defense and have given up the fewest points in the division. Smith can air it out if he needs to, as he did last week in a tough loss vs the Lions, or play it safe and manage the game like the did on Sunday vs the Bengals. Their offense seems to be finding a bit of an identity with McLaurin and Co. The Giants come close but can’t pull off the upset vs any of their tougher opponents.
They’re definitely not great, but great is not required in the NFC East in 2020.
That’s it for me. Tell me who you think will win the division in the comments. And come back tomorrow for Angry Ward, whose stupid Vikings failed to end the Cowboys season, as he probably predicted. Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.