How Much Worse Can the NFC East Get?

The Philadelphia Eagles hold a half-game lead over the NFC East through seven weeks. On its own, this isn’t a crazy statistic. However, they’re doing so with only two wins, four losses, and a tie. The NFC East isn’t just bad in 2020; it’s downright awful. Let’s break down just how awful it is.

The NFC East or the NFC Least?

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Nobody expected the NFC East to be a powerhouse this year. However, they didn’t expect it to be so historically bad. Part of this can be explained away due to bad luck with injuries. The Cowboys, for instance, lost Dak Prescott early in the season. However, the team looked awful long before Prescott went down and only looks worse now. 

The Giants, who are in year two of the Daniel Jones experiment, are last in the division with a 1-6 record. Although with just one less win than the leaders, even a slight uptick could get them into the playoffs. On the other hand, the Cowboys will likely tank if the season doesn’t improve. With Prescott out for the foreseeable future, their change doesn’t look promising. 

Over in Washington, the Football Team has fielded two starting quarterbacks and experimented with a recovering Alex Smith off the bench. The results have been dismal, as the team currently has a 2-5 record. In Philadelphia, Carson Wentz had a chance to show that he’s the real deal, but he’s playing some of the worst football in his career despite the division lead. 

The NFC East is a team with four bad teams in it and no signs of an improvement. Looking at it compared to other divisions makes this even stranger, too. 

Where they stand with other divisions

NFC East teams
Eagles running back Boston Scott beats Giants strong safety Jabrill Peppers | Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFC East is terrible in its own right, but looking at it versus the others drives home this point, details CBS Sports. To put things into perspective, no other division-leader has less than five wins.

At 5-2, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills have the next-worst records for division leaders. However, to understand how bad the NFC East, one can look at the bottom of other divisions. The 49ers, Chargers, and Broncos are either in last place or tied with another team for last place despite better records than the Eagles through seven weeks of action. 

Other teams with just one win, like the Minnesota Vikings or Atlanta Falcons, would still be just a game or two behind the Eagles in the NFC East. All of this is bad, but when FiveThirtyEight ran the numbers, the results were downright staggering. 

Just how bad is the NFC East

Through 20 games in the NFC East, the teams had a combined four wins, 15 losses, and one tie — good enough for a 22.5% win total. To put that into perspective, only one team in NFL history has a worst winning percentage through five games: the 1984 NFC West. However, after comparing the Elo ratings of the two teams, FiveThirtyEight found that the current NFC East is doing so with a lower Elo score. 

Every part of this is staggering. According to the stat-heavy website, a team could theoretically win the division with a 5-11 record. In one particularly bleak simulation in over 50,000, the Giants won the NFC East with a 4-12 record. Unless a team turns it all around and does so drastically, the last two-thirds of the season could be a long ride. 

The NFC East is one of the worst divisions in NFL history — if not the worst. However, if a team can get hot at the end of the year, the record in the season will not matter. This remains unlikely, however, as the teams have shown no signs of life whatsoever. However, the NFL is a strange place, and maybe one of them has a surprise to throw our way.