Five weeks into the 2020 season, the NFC East truly is the NFC Least. All four teams are under .500, with the leader two last-second kicks away from potentially being winless, and at this pace, the East could produce the first-ever 6-10 division champion.
That said, even the last place team is only two games out, with 10 of the 12 intra-division games still to come. But how do you even try to handicap which team will win the division and probably be a heavy underdog against a Wild Card team (right now, Dallas would play either the 4-1 Rams or 4-1 Bears if the season ended now) in the first round of the playoffs?
We’re going to give it a shot, going in current standings order.
The case for: They’re in first place now and already have a divisional win, so they just have to stay the course! Seriously, though, they do have the most offensive talent in the division, having scored 32.6 points per game so far, and their three losses are to teams that are 4-1 or 5-0, only one of which was by more than one score. And, while yes, they just lost Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton might still be one of the top four quarterbacks in the division.
The case against: They have plenty of skill talent, sure, but that offense definitely loses one element going from Prescott to Dalton, and they also are missing half of their offensive line for the season. And yes, while they haven’t been blown out and have scored 32.6 PPG, they’ve also allowed 38, and literally can’t stop anybody – four of their five opponents have put up their season-high in points against Dallas. And did we mention that if not for Greg Zuerlein and two furious last-minute drives against teams that are still winless, they could be 0-5?
The case for: Injuries. How is that a case for? Carson Wentz is missing his No. 2 tight end and top three receivers, and four of their top six offensive linemen are on the shelf with a fifth playing sparingly on a bad ankle. All of the other divisional teams are missing a quality player, but the Eagles have serious quantity here, which is just as bad. Even with that, unlike the teams constantly playing from behind, Philly has led or had the ball with a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter of three of their four non-wins – and technically, they were only down eight with the ball against the Rams. If Dallas is a couple good breaks from being 0-5, Philly is a couple bad breaks from being 3-2 or even 4-1.
The case against: Injuries. The team is decimated, and sure, they could gel some more, but they’re still 1-3-1 and a lot of those injured players aren’t returning any time soon. Also, the defense has started to break, and their already weak linebacking corps is now down two more. And sure, Carson Wentz is playing behind a patchwork line, but he has thrown 10 picks in five games and looks nothing like the MVP candidate he was in 2017. Oh, and they’re already down a divisional loss, and their next four non-divisional games are Baltimore, at Cleveland, Seattle, and at Green Bay.
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
The case for: They’re already up a divisional win, which is huge, and their schedule over the next six weeks is four divisional games (two each against the Giants and Cowboys) plus the Bengals and Lions. Now is the perfect time for Kyle Allen or Alex Smith to get their footing, and maybe find a way to trade Dwayne Haskins and bring in a veteran to right the ship. Antonio Gibson is on the verge of a breakout, too, so that will help the offense.
The case against: No matter how down you may be on Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen is not the answer, and while Alex Smith is a great story, the poor man showed on Sunday that he can barely move. Gibson could be great, but with a nondescript receiving corps and a less-than-mobile QB, expect a lot of eight in the box on early downs and safety help on Terry McLaurin on every down…not the recipe for success. Plus, the defense has played one good half in five games.
NEW YORK GIANTS
The case for: Five losses, but four games at least where the team has looked competitive, and two out of three without All-World back Saquon Barkley. Devonta Freeman is starting to get his legs, and even without Sterling Shepard, the passing game looked great against Dallas. This team has hung tough against three good teams and in a divisional road game, and they’re coming into an important albeit easier middle of their schedule.
The case against: Good enough isn’t good enough, and moral victories don’t make the playoffs. The offense is still run by Daniel Jones, who makes Carson Wentz look like Fort Knox, and their one outburst was against the weakest defense in the league. They won’t go 0-16 like their roommates at MetLife, but they’ll be lucky if they go .500 the rest of the way, and may already be in too big of a hole to get out of.
So fans, you make the call: who is going to win the NFC East?