The NFC East: Is It Really Anybody’s Race?

The 2020 NFL season is now four weeks young and both fans and analysts alike are starting to get an idea of who the league’s top contenders are.

There are a number of undefeated teams still standing, six to be exact, most of whom are not a total shock with the Titans and Bills being the possible exceptions. As division leaders start to stake their claim, there is one division (more like an island of misfit toys) that stands far below the rest.

The NFC East

The NFC East is a historically rich group of football teams who share 13 Super Bowls overall, a number of successful seasons, and deep playoff runs, now sit on the outside looking in. While there are obviously teams outside the division who are battling struggles of their own, there is no division that is as collectively downright bad as this one.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch a lot of NFL football this season or check on the standings, let me put things into perspective.

The Philadelphia Eagles stand atop the NFC East with a record of 1-2-1, their saving grace coming from a slow-paced and sloppy tie with the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3. The Washington Football Team and the Dallas Cowboys are tied for second place with records of 1-3 respectively and last place in the NFC East belongs to the winless New York Giants.

While the fan bases of each of these four teams are unquestionably frustrated, there is still hope both emotionally and mathematically that the NFC East title is truly up for grabs.

NFC East race leaving every team thinking they have a chance

However, it may not be in reach as equally as some fans and members of the franchises might think.

Singing the Big Blues

Through the first four games of the new year, the Giants have scored a total of three offensive touchdowns. Star wide receiver of the Cleveland Browns, and former Giant, Odell Beckham Jr. has scored four by himself. This is likely due to New York’s failure to reach three hundred yards of total offense in a game all year. A statistic that is just as impressive as it is embarrassing for a professional football team.

With a start this bad, it is unlikely that the G-men makeup much, if any, ground on their three biggest rivals and are quite possibly headed for another top-five pick in next year’s draft.

Don’t expect a miracle run up the standings from Big Blue.

The Boys are Back?

In a similarly poor fashion, the Cowboys defense has let up an average of 36.5 points-per-game and a concerning 438.8 yards-per-game to their first four opponents. However, their offense has both outscored and outgained these opponents, keeping them in every game and allowing them to capture their only win in dramatic comeback fashion over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2.

Dak Prescott seems to be playing at a level he hasn’t yet shown in his career thus far, and as former Cowboys legend Deion Sanders said on Barstool Sports’ podcast “Pardon My Take” on Monday, “Jerry Jones is the world’s greatest salesman of hope.”

With a few more stops on defense and the offense clicking, Dallas fans will deserve to graduate from hope and start to have some real belief that their team will win a division title in 2020. Don’t be shocked if this is the case.

Let’s Do That Washington Football

Washington came out of the gate strong with an upset win over the Eagles where they recorded a dominant eight sacks and forced two interceptions. However, the defense has been the only (somewhat) bright spot so far as second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins has consistently struggled.

Haskins has only thrown four touchdowns to go with three interceptions on the year. That stat line has landed Haskins on the bench, as the team announced Wednesday that former Carolina Panther, and Cam Newton replacement, Kyle Allen will start under center in Week 5.

A revolving door at quarterback will likely lead to further struggle and Ron Rivera will need more than twelve games to right the ship in his first year as the team’s coach. With Washington continuing to trend downwards, don’t be surprised to see them battling for last place in the NFC East with the Giants come seasons end.

Fly Eagles Fly

Finally, the Eagles have had one of the weirder starts to the 2020 season out of any team in the league. After losing the aforementioned game to Washington in Week 1, Philadelphia has notched a tie and a win to put them in first place. While the tie with the Bengals would be viewed as a disappointment during past years, or in other divisions, it holds as much weight as a victory in the race for first place in the East.

In addition, the Eagles captured an impressive win over a more talented, although battered, 49ers team in San Francisco last Sunday night. All this coming despite question marks surrounding the play of injury-riddled fifth-year quarterback Carson Wentz through the team’s first three games.

However, head Coach Doug Pederson along with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz have had too much recent success within the division during recent years to write the Eagles off just yet. Experience and coaching put them in contention to pull away from the pack with the Cowboys in the coming weeks.

Conclusion

So, while all four teams in the NFC East have shown the rest of the league they are nothing to fear as of now, the statistics and trends show that the Cowboys and Eagles seem to be the most superior misfits on the island. With the on-field product being as bad as it is in New York and young players providing uncertainty in Washington, the biggest buzz word to describe the NFC East after four weeks: Hope. And hope will likely fade soon for some and continue to loom skeptically for others.

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