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NFL

The NFC East Is So Bad!

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 04: Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants recovers his fumble as he is sacked by Morgan Fox #97 of the Los Angeles Rams during the first half at SoFi Stadium on October 04, 2020 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

With a comeback win over the 49ers on Sunday night, the Philadelphia Eagles scratched out their first win of the season. It sure as hell wasn’t pretty, with injuries forcing the Eagles to play without their top three receivers, a tight end, and four starting offensive linemen, and the Niners a shell of their opening day roster. But a win’s a win, especially for a miserable team that had to wait until Week 4 to garner its first. “”It’s a huge relief,” said quarterback Carson Wentz, who, with his best air game of the season—193 yards passing with one touchdown—moved up the NFL leaderboard to 33rd in passer rating. With their first win, the Eagles … moved all alone into first place in the NFC East.

Trash! This division is trash! And not even solid trash, much of which can be repurposed into sundry DIY arts and crafts projects. The NFC East is the smelly trash water which collects at the bottom of the bag and drips onto your shoes as you drag it out to the curb.

Every year, one division has to be crap. It’s usually the AFC South. But no longer! Philadelphia’s 1-2-1 record, a result of them actively playing for a tie last week, puts them in pole position in a division that features Washington and Dallas battling for second at 1-3, and the 0-4 Giants actually outperforming expectations by not having negative wins. Since realignment in 2002, no division had ever failed to combine for four wins through the season’s first four weeks. One of these teams is going to make the playoffs, invalidating football as a sport.

The thing about the NFC East, dating at least back to the late ’90s when the remnants of the championship Cowboys were sleepwalking to first-round playoff exits, is that it’s usually pretty good, but when it’s bad, it’s unwatchable. Rudderless, charmless franchises clinging to outdated roster-construction strategies, led by moon-hyped young players doomed to failure by poor systems from the minds of poor hires overseen by meddling ownership. (If you’re a fan of an NFC East team, and you’re wondering how the previous sentence so accurately described your specific team—it’s all of them.)

Take the Giants. Daniel Jones, just nudging out Wentz for 32nd in the league in passer rating, has shown us just enough over just long enough to start to think, hey, maybe Daniel Jones isn’t a good quarterback. Jones, who spent the offseason working on not turning the ball over, has thrown five picks in four games to go with two lost fumbles. This would be fine if he had some gaudy offensive numbers to offset the ball-control issues, but Jones has not thrown a touchdown since Week 1. In fact, the Giants have now gone consecutive games without a TD for the first time since the immortal Danny Kanell was under center.

Giants-Rams, a 17-9 win for L.A., may have been the most entertaining of the NFC East’s games on Sunday, only because of a massive fight that took place after the final whistle. Golden Tate and Jalen Ramsey traded punches, and while I’m not saying I know what it was about, I do know that Ramsey has two kids with Tate’s sister, and Tate—a notoriously alleged homewrecker himself—wasn’t happy with his sister’s and Ramsey’s very public breakup last year.

The Giants might be the crap of the crop for now, but don’t count out Washington Football Team, whose only win came in Week 1 against the Eagles. Since then WFT has lost three games by a combined 43 points, and Dwayne Haskins—a respectable (only by comparison to Jones and Wentz) 29th in the league in passer rating—has not exactly shown he’s the quarterback of the future, despite looking a little bit better yesterday. Washington, the most anonymous of these shitty squads, lost 31-17 to the Ravens on Sunday, in a game most of the country was blessedly shielded from.

The Cowboys, whose only win so far came in a miracle comeback against the Falcons, are undoubtedly the most watchable team in this division, only because watching Dallas lose is inherently satisfying. If you tuned in to watch the Browns beat them 49-38, you did not feel like you wasted your time. If you tune in to watch the Cowboys lose to anyone, you will not feel like you wasted your time. Unfortunately, Dallas will probably not be knocking on the cellar door for very long. Their three losses have come against teams who are currently a combined 10-2, Zeke looks good, Dak looks good, and they are, ultimately, probably just a mediocre team that’s faced tough competition. Which is to say, take heart, Cowboys fans! This 1-3 team is, deep down, an 8-8 team.

So here we are, a quarter through the season, four shit teams with 12 losses among them. They’re not just losing, either; they’re all losing badly. The NFC East is the only division in football where all four teams have negative point differential, and the Eagles, Cowboys, Football Team, and Giants have four of the five worst point differentials in the conference. Wins will necessarily have to come, as there’s only been one intra-divisional game thus far, but I have confidence that the misery will remain universal and thorough. Twice in the history of the league have 7-9 teams made the playoffs. The most exciting race in football is seeing whether the NFC East has what it takes to send a 6-10 squad to the postseason.