Anyone taking a look at the current NFL standings will surely notice the NFC East. It is a division marked by a distinct lack of quality – all four teams had managed to achieve just three wins going into Thanksgiving Day.
While Washington managed to beat the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, any team that progresses from the wretched division is almost certain to be the worst ever team to make the play-offs. Thanks to the way the NFL works, one of the NFC East teams is going to slink its way into the post-season with an abject record.
Creating history of the wrong kind in the NFC East
Before the 2020 season, the worst teams of the 16-game season era were the Carolina Panthers of 2014 and the Seattle Seahawks of 2010. The Panthers managed to reach the play-offs with a 7-8-1 record, while the Seahawks snuck in with a 7-9 record.
Prior to the 16-game era, the two worst teams had been the Houston Oilers (6-6-2) in 1969 and the 1982 Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions teams, who had 4-5 records in a strike-shortened season.
Even matching the poor records of the Panthers and Seahawks is likely to prove tricky for any team in the NFC East this season. After all, just to do that, Washington will need to win three of its next five games, and the other teams – Philadelphia, NY Giants and the Cowboys – will need to win four of their remaining games.
When you take a look at those team’s remaining fixtures, it begins to look increasingly certain that whoever reaches the play-offs from the NFC East is going to be creating some pretty rotten history.
Philadelphia has home games against Seattle, New Orleans and Washington, as well as visits to Green Bay, Arizona and Dallas on its itinerary. That list has four strong play-off contenders on it, as well as key match ups against Dallas and Washington.
Although the Cowboys lost to Washington this week, they have a relatively straightforward itinerary facing them for the rest of 2020. They must travel to Baltimore and Cincinnati, as well as to New York to face the Giants. Their home games are against San Francisco and Philadelphia.
The Giants have it tough, with them having to play five teams from outside the NFC East. Trips to Cincinnati and Seattle are followed by home games against Arizona and Cleveland. They finish their season with a trip to Baltimore and a home game with Dallas.
Washington takes the lead
Washington must now follow up its win over Dallas by travelling to Pittsburgh to face the undefeated Steelers, before heading to San Francisco. Home games with Seattle and Carolina are then followed with a home game with the Eagles.
The signs certainly don’t look for the Cowboys after they were comprehensively beaten by Washington on Thanksgiving Day. The final scoreline of 41-16 was a fair reflection of Washington’s dominance. The Cowboys had had reasons for confidence going into the game, following a win over Minnesota Vikings in their previous outing that had ended a four-game losing streak.
Washington now leads the poor NFC East with a 4-7 record. The Eagles and the Giants will face each other this weekend, though, so that could change. One thing that does look likely is that the Super Bowl champion is unlikely to emerge from the NFC East.