The NFC East: To Tank, or Not to Tank?


Bill Streicher

Eagles QB Carson Wentz evades the Giants defense to score a touchdown that helped Philadelphia secure a win in week 7.

Christian Dahms, Reporting Journalist

The NFC East in years past has always had at least one or two teams that have been Super Bowl contenders. This year, however, that is far from the case with the absolute mess that the division has become. The Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Football Team, and the New York Giants have all been having disappointing seasons, with no team above .500 in the win column as of Week 9. So with half of the season already gone, who is most likely to clinch the division? Without further ado, let’s find out!

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles were the NFC East champions last season with a record of 9-7, but it wasn’t pretty. Many key players on the team were injured throughout the season such as Zach Ertz, Jordan Howard, Alshon Jeffery, Lane Johnson, and Carson Wentz. Fast forward to this season, and injuries are still a big reason for why some might say that the Eagles haven’t reached their full potential quite yet. However, a lot of fans have been blaming their lack of success on some of the bigger pieces of the organization, mainly head coach Doug Pederson and star quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz’s play this season has been very inconsistent, as he currently has 12 TDs to 12 interceptions. These types of numbers can be attributed to a lot of different things, like the Eagles’s lack of a formidable offensive line and less go-to offensive weapons for Wentz. As for Doug Pederson, he has made multiple questionable play calls this season that have either cost or almost cost the Eagles a win, such as head-scratching two-point conversion attempts that end up failing colossally, or opting to punt the ball for the tie instead of a field-goal attempt to win against the subpar Bengals back in Week 4.

Despite these flaws, the Eagles are still most likely to win the division barring that they don’t catch the injury bug as badly as they did last year. The team is very much average though, as the defense is mediocre at best and the offense has been proven to be faulty at times. What the team needs the most is for Carson Wentz to return to the superstar form that he once was at (the emergence of wide receiver Travis Fulgham can help with that) and for Doug to stop overthinking the game plan too much. In any other division, the Eagles would be an average team. But in the NFC East this year, average is more than enough to get the job done.

Final record projection: 7-8-1

Washington Football Team: This year was supposed to be a reset year for Washington, and not just because of a name change. They nailed it in the draft by taking defensive end Chase Young with the 2nd overall pick, as his ability to terrorize QBs on the pass rush has been a huge reason why the Football Team has the 8th-ranked team defense in the NFL (per Pro Football Reference). On the offensive side though, the same cannot be said. Last year’s first round pick, QB Dwayne Haskins, has not panned out like Washington had hoped, and benched him for Kyle Allen in week 5. Although there are some good weapons in RB Antonio Gibson and WR Terry McLaurin, the rest of the offense is terrible, ranking 31st in the league. It’s been tough for Washington off of the field as well, as Ron Rivera has been battling cancer while being the head coach of the team. The only real way that the Football Team can have a shot at taking the division is if they can improve on the offensive end, which is a lot to ask considering that we are already halfway through the season. With the way that the defense has been able to keep them in games, though, it’s safe to say that the future is looking bright for the Football Team.

Final record projection: 5-11

Dallas Cowboys: How ‘bout them Cowboys? Terrible. Going into the season, Dallas had a lot of hope that they could contend for a Super Bowl appearance this year with its loaded offense. Although there were concerns about the defense, many people believed that any team with stars like QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliot, and WRs Amari Cooper and rookie CeeDee Lamb were destined for success. In week 5 against the Giants, however, things would quickly go awry. Dak Prescott in the 3rd quarter suffered a gruesome ankle injury that immediately put him out for the rest of the season and might affect his play for the rest of his career. Although backup QB Andy Dalton did enough to put the game away against the scrappy Giants, the weeks that have followed have been an absolute nightmare. Over the last three games, the Cowboys have only scored double-digits in a game once (a 38-10 loss against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 6). That’s not even the worst of the team, though. The Dallas defense is so bad that it’s downright insulting, as it ranks dead last in the league. Head coach Mike McCarthy has not helped at all either, as he is notorious for relying on high-end talent to win him games, which was the reason why he was forced out of Green Bay. If there was any hope that the Cowboys had a chance at clinching a playoff spot, it’s long gone now, as they neither have an offense or a defense now. This reporter’s advice would be for them to just throw in the towel and tank to try to get a higher draft pick.

Final Record Projection: 4-12

New York Giants: Rounding out the mess that is this year’s NFC East is the New York Giants, a team that has had very low expectations for a while now. Early into the season, their star running back Saquon Barkley tore his ACL in a week 2 loss against the Chicago Bears, a crucial blow to an already subpar Giants offense. As of week 9, the Giants are last in the division with a record of 1-7, but not all of those losses have been complete blowouts, as all of their games have been decided by 10 points or less except for their week 3 loss against the San Francisco 49ers. Yes, the Giants are not good, and don’t have much of a chance of taking the division, but they at least have a good amount of players with potential. Take, for example, WR Darius Slayton, who has been having a solid year with 485 receiving yards and 3 touchdown receptions entering week 9. RB Wayne Gallman has also stepped up in the absence of Saquon, as he has had at least 1 rushing touchdown in each of his last two games. Perhaps even more surprising is the Giants defense, as players like DE Leonard Williams (4 Sacks), LB Blake Martinez (82 tackles), and CB James Bradbery (3 interceptions) have been big reasons why they have their games close even against tough teams like the Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, there has been a lot of pressure placed on second-year QB Daniel Jones. As of right now, he currently has 7 touchdowns to 9 interceptions, which is not what you would expect from a player who was taken with the 6th overall pick in 2019 (a move that many people saw as a reach) Despite this, Daniel Jones has shown promise at times, mainly by showcasing his ability to run with the ball when necessary. But he still has a long way to go if he wants to remain the face of the franchise. Although this year may not end up with the Giants winning the NFC East, they’ve shown that they can compete with even the toughest teams. If Daniel Jones and the rest of the team can continue to improve, it’ll give Giants fans a reason to be optimistic.

Final Record Projection: 5-11