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State of the NFC East - The Best Division in Football

It was hardly two months ago that I referred to the NFC East as perhaps the worst division in the NFL. Honestly, who could blame me?


The NFC East finished 32-36 collectively last season, a win percentage of .471. This year, the division is off to a ridiculous start, with a combined 23-8 record and a win percentage of .742.


The Philadelphia Eagles are the NFL’s only remaining undefeated team. The Dallas Cowboys have the best defense in the NFL. The New York Giants are the surprise story of the NFL season so far, already eclipsing their win total from last season. The Washington Commanders are 4-4, but have won three games in a row, the last two with backup


quarterback Taylor Heinicke.


The NFC East combined win percentage of .742 is the highest combined win percentage for a division through 8 weeks since the league merger in 1970. Nobody saw this coming.


In this article, we’ll take a quick look at each team, see where they’re at and where they might be going.

 

Philadelphia Eagles:


  • Record: 7-0 overall (2-0 in NFC East, 1st)

  • Remaining Schedule:

    • Home: Washington, Green Bay, Tennessee, New Orleans, New York Giants

    • Away: Houston, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Chicago, Dallas

  • Biggest Question: How long can they stay undefeated?

  • Ceiling: Super Bowl Champions


Yes, The Eagles are the last undefeated team in the NFL and they have looked very impressive at times. However, of Philadelphia’s seven wins, only two were against teams that are currently over .500 (Minnesota & Dallas).


With that said, this appears to be the most balanced team in the NFL.


On offense, the Eagles have an up and coming quarterback in Jalen Hurts and two stud receivers for him to throw to. A.J. Brown is coming off his best performance as an Eagle, scoring three touchdowns in Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh, while DeVonta Smith continues to put up big numbers as well. Meanwhile, running back Miles Sanders is eighth in the NFL in rushing.

Photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images


Defensively, The Eagles have found consistency. Since the Week 1 38-35 win over Detroit, Philadelphia is only giving up 13.8 points per game, which would be the best mark in the league.


In looking at the remaining games, it’s hard to find an obvious loss for the league’s only undefeated team. The Eagles will likely be the favorite for all of them.


In all likelihood, they won’t go undefeated. Keep an eye on the Christmas Eve game in Dallas as a potential loss, but I think their first loss will come at a much more unexpected time. I think the Green Bay game on November 27 could be the one.


Regardless, The Eagles appear to be the best team in the NFC (maybe the NFL) and should be well on their way to earning the conference's top seed for the postseason.


The last time they did that, The Lombardi Trophy came back to Philly.

 

Dallas Cowboys:


  • Record: 6-2 overall (2-1 in NFC East, 2nd)

  • Remaining Schedule:

    • Home: New York Giants, Indianapolis, Houston, Philadelphia

    • Away: Green Bay, Minnesota, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Washington

  • Biggest Question: Can defense still win championships in today’s NFL?

  • Ceiling: Super Bowl or bust


It’s been a weird eight weeks for Dallas but they’re finally into the bye with an impressive 6-2 record.


Offensively, health has plagued The Cowboys. Starting quarterback Dak Prescott missed five games while running back Ezekiel Elliott and receiver Michael Gallup have missed time as well.


This past Sunday, the offense had its best performance yet, scoring 49 points on Chicago without Ezekiel Elliott. In his absence, running back Tony Pollard rushed for 131 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 14 carries.

Photo: Elias Valverde II/Dallas Morning News


Defensively, Dallas has been dominant. For the first five games of the year, The Cowboys were surrendering just over 14 points per game. However, they’ve allowed 20+ in two of the past three matchups, including a 26-17 loss to Philadelphia.


Currently, The Cowboys have the third best statistical defense in the league, only behind Buffalo and Denver. Is the defense going to be enough to carry them the rest of the way, or does the offense have to play a bigger role, as it did this past Sunday?


Assuming Philadelphia runs away with the division, Dallas will be on the road for Wild Card Weekend. I know it’s an old cliche, but who would want to play this team in a do or die game?


Sign me up for a Dallas @ Minnesota or Dallas @ San Francisco Wild Card game!

 

New York Giants:


  • Record: 6-2 overall (0-1 in NFC East, 3rd)

  • Remaining Schedule:

    • Home: Houston, Detroit, Washington, Philadelphia, Indianapolis

    • Away: Dallas, Washington, Minnesota, Philadelphia

  • Biggest Question: Is a 6-1 start enough to propel the Giants into the playoffs?

  • Ceiling: Divisional Round


How are they doing this? The New York Giants are off to a flying 6-2 start and they have the clear leader for coach of the year in first year head coach Brian Daboll.


Each of their six wins have been by one possession, so how long can they really keep this up? Are they for real, or are they pretenders?


On offense, it’s been the rushing attack that has carried The Giants. Quarterback Daniel Jones has not eclipsed 217 yards passing in a game this year and has only passed for 200+ yards twice in eight games.


However, you don’t need to throw when you’ve got the fourth best ground attack in the NFL and that is exactly what the Giants have.


Running back Saquon Barkley looks like his rookie self so far this season and currently sits second in the NFL in rushing with 779 yards. Meanwhile, Daniel Jones is the third best rushing quarterback so far in 2022, only behind Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields.


The defense hasn’t been anything special, but they are holding opponents to less than 20 points per game, which is exactly what The Giants have to do to win all of these close games.

Photo: Joe Nicholson / USA Today Sports


Coming off their most lopsided game of the year in a 27-13 loss in Seattle, The Giants enter the bye week before looking ahead to back-to-back home games against Houston and Detroit.


New York can legitimately be 8-2. However, they still have to play Philadelphia and Washington twice and travel to Dallas on Thanksgiving. There’s a lot of work to be done but I don’t see how The Giants don’t make the postseason.


They have a healthy and motivated team with a dynamite head coach and likely only need to win three or four of the final nine games to solidify a playoff spot.


The feel good story of the NFL season is only just getting started.

 

Washington Commanders:


  • Record: 4-4 overall (0-2 in NFC East, 4th)

  • Remaining Schedule:

    • Home: Minnesota, Atlanta, New York Giants, Cleveland, Dallas

    • Away: Philadelphia, Houston, New York Giants, San Francisco

  • Biggest Question: When everyone’s healthy, who should start at quarterback?

  • Ceiling: Wild Card Weekend


What a weird year it’s been in Washington. The Commanders have dealt with so many off-the-field issues that it can be easy to forget what’s going on on the field.


In fact, right before publishing this article, The Commanders announced that owner Dan Snyder has retained Bank of America Securities to look into finally selling the team, a huge first step that many thought would never happen, myself included.


Shifting to what’s going on on the field, Washington has turned things around after losing four straight games and have now won three in a row to move to 4-4 overall.


Quarterback Carson Wentz went down with a hand injury in the Thursday night win in Chicago, so it’s been the Taylor Heinicke show on offense, and boy has it delivered.


Since Heinicke took over, Washington is 2-0 and has won both games by a combined three points. The team also got back rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr, who was sidelined the first month after being shot multiple times in late August. The Commanders are 3-1 with Robinson active and he’s led the team in rushing three of the past four weeks.

Photo: Justin Casterline / Getty Images


It was also announced on November 2 that Washington will be getting star defensive end Chase Young back in the coming weeks as he began practicing Wednesday.


The bad news for The Commanders is the schedule. It’s brutal.


Washington has nine games to play and only two of those are against teams who currently have a losing record, and one of those two teams is Cleveland who will have Deshaun Wastson for the matchup on January 1.


Sure, in Heinicke we trust, but I don’t trust this team to navigate the back half of the schedule and win enough games to sneak into the playoffs.


Regardless, the ‘worst team’ in the NFC East has still been perhaps the most headline-driven team in the entire NFL this year. If nothing else, they are definitely not boring.


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