How Bad Can The NFC East Get?
9:01 AM EDT on October 20, 2020
OK, because you wanted to know, here it is: the worst record an NFC East team can accrue and still win its division outright, without resorting to tiebreakers, is—vomit bags at the ready, coil your necks and, on our signal, GO!—4-11-1, by the Philadelphia Eagles. And who doesn't want that?
Here's how we figure it: the Eagles, with a win over San Francisco and a tie with Cincinnati, would have the advantage over the Cowboys, who have a win over Atlanta. All we need for this to occur is for all four teams to split their season series with their divisional rivals (HAH!) and lose everything else outside the division. This, after watching the Cowboys donate their all in a degrading bow-and-scrape to the Arizona Cardinals in a 38-10 dope-slapping Monday night made palatable only by Jerry Jones having to watch it from both the luxury box he paid for and the sideline his employees foul on a regular basis.
There has never been an NFL team go worse than 7-9 and get into the playoffs, and there has never been a division lose more than 42 games in aggregate. The East right now is on pace (a phrase used only by people who don't date, have no friends, and end up drinking alone) to finish 13-48-3. They can't do that; because they play each other, the worst this could actually get is 14-49-1, but having seen what we have so far, we wouldn't put it past these yobs to do worse than the math allows. In fact, we'd prefer it. I mean, they've gone to so much trouble to make us notice how rancid they are, so we should remember just how much effort they've refused to put into this. The Cowboys' defense alone is on pace to give up an all-time worst 581 points, and their offense is mostly the ghost of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott giving away footballs like he was working a turkey drive.
And they're still not the worst team in the division, because Washington is 1-5 and still trying to raise money to find a nickname that doesn't sound like a defunct British soccer team, and the Giants barely beat the WFT by a point. The division is 6-15-3 against the spread, and Vegas doesn't like that kind of wagering security.
This being Covidia, all things are playoffable. The Houston Astros came within a game of reaching the World Series with a losing record, the Columbus Blue Jackets made the NHL playoffs despite losing more games than they won (thanks to the loser point), and the NBA's been sending bad teams to the playoffs forever. But this would be a spectacular new low, an earth's-crust-takes-a-serious-beating low—worse than the '88 Maple Leafs (21-49-10) or the '68 Bulls (29-53) or the '53 Baltimore Bullets (16-54).
AND NONE OF THESE TEAMS ARE THE NEW YORK JETS. NONE OF THEM.
So let's all get what we want, which is abject divisional failure on an intergalactic galactic scale. Let's get those Eagles in by going zero to 60 in reverse. Let's have the perfect storm that takes out the entire waterfront. Let's have the 4-11-1 Eagles playing in Week 18, even if Week 18 happens in Week 22. We want this. Hell, THEY want this. You can see it in every box score, every sad-faced quarterback, every hypertouchy coach answering impertinent questions that imply the word "suck." This is the competitive disaster whose time has come ... and still none of these teams are guaranteed Trevor Lawrence. So let's just call it "Tank For The Hell Of It," and if it happens, maybe the Eagles could put a statue of Sam Hinkie next to the one of Doug Pederson and Nick Foles commemorating the first Philly Special.