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In Week 13, everyone realized how putrid the 2019 NFC East is.
The Dallas Cowboys were demolished at home by the Buffalo Bills, a game that is likely to be the final straw for coach Jason Garrett. The Philadelphia Eagles did them one better, somehow losing to the Miami Dolphins, who were 2-9 going in. The New York Giants lost their eighth in a row, falling 31-13 to the Green Bay Packers. It’s a weird day when the Washington Redskins are the bright spot of the division. They won at the Carolina Panthers to improve to 3-9.
This division is quickly descending into historic awfulness. It could be the third division in NFL history to produce a champion with a losing record. The Cowboys lead at 6-6 and the Eagles are next at 5-7. And, statistically, it’s trending toward being arguably the worst division of the 16-game schedule era that dates back to 1978.
The combined record for the four NFC East teams is 16-32. Among divisions that did not have at least one team reach double digits in wins — having one good team should eliminate a group from “worst division ever” status — the 2008 NFC West have the fewest combined wins at 22 (the 2014 NFC South had 22 wins and a tie). That 22-42 combined record is a .344 winning percentage. The 2019 NFC East has a combined .333 winning percentage. There are plenty of divisional games left and someone has to win them. The Cowboys could win out and get to double digits. Still, we don’t need arbitrary figures to inform us the NFC East is bad. We can all see it.
It’s rare for a division to not produce at least one team with 10 or more wins. It has happened only 27 times since 1978. Only three times has a division failed to produce a 10-win team or combine to win at least 25 games: 2014 NFC South, 2008 NFC West and 2008 AFC West. The NFC East has to go 9-7 the rest of the way to reach 25 wins, and do you trust these four teams to win nine games the rest of the way? There are six guaranteed wins remaining due to the NFC East teams playing each other, and it still seems they’ll fall short of nine.
So yes, the 2019 NFC East is making an argument as the worst division ever. Unless they all get hot — hold your laughter, please — they’ll be on a short list of the WOAT. A quick look at what has gone wrong:
Dallas: The Cowboys started 3-0 and have lost six of nine since then. The Cowboys have a positive point differential at plus-74, and they’re the only NFC East team with that distinction. They’re also 2-6 when they’re not playing divisional teams, which says all you need to know.
Philadelphia: The Eagles have lost three in a row. Injuries and a tough schedule explains some of Philadelphia’s woes, but they were mostly healthy and playing the Dolphins on Sunday and still lost.
Washington: The Redskins started 1-9, are the only team to fire their coach this season, and they’re still not in last place. Washington has won two straight, which seems miraculous. It’s averaging 14.4 points per game, worst in the NFL. It’s also last in the NFL in yards gained.
New York: When the Giants beat Washington on Sept. 29, they were 2-2. That was their last win. The Giants didn’t win a game in October or November. They’re 25th in the NFL in points scored and 29th in points allowed.
There you have it, four awful teams in one division. The NFC East might be lucky to avoid being the third team to crown a division champ with a losing record, joining the 2010 Seahawks and 2014 Panthers. The NFC East is the highest profile division in the NFL because the teams are in four huge markets, and all the division is doing is giving us a lot of bad football. It’s possible three of the four teams could fire their coaches. Is it too late to petition the NFL to not allow the NFC East a playoff spot this season?
Here are the Power Rankings after Week 13 of the NFL season:
Sunday had to be great for Andy Dalton, getting his job back and leading the Bengals to their first win. Dalton’s time with the Bengals is probably almost done, but his last big contribution can be saving Cincinnati from 0-16.
31. New York Giants (2-10, LW: 29)
The Dolphins and Redskins won, and now it’s time for the Giants to get rid of any idea they have of winning again this season. Lose out, hope the Bengals take a quarterback, draft Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. Don’t screw this up.
30. Washington Redskins (3-9, LW: 31)
I still don’t get why Washington gave Adrian Peterson 13 carries and Derrius Guice 10, but maybe Guice’s 129-yard day will convince it to see what Guice can do in the featured role. Peterson is an amazing story at his age, but Guice is the future.
29. Detroit Lions (3-8-1, LW: 26)
Matthew Stafford and Jeff Driskel are out, and David Blough is going to get a big opportunity at quarterback. He wasn’t bad against a good Bears defense, but there’s still a chance this Lions season could get uglier. It’s not like Matt Patricia’s defense is going to help out.
28. Atlanta Falcons (3-9, LW: 27)
Atlanta had 27 first downs to 14 for New Orleans, and outgained them 348-279. And still needed a couple onside kicks to even get close. For the past two years it has been a strange team, able to consistently put up yards and usually in a loss.
27. New York Jets (4-8, LW: 24)
The Jets have lost to the 0-7 Redskins and the 0-11 Bengals. It’s beyond troubling. And on top of it all, Ryan Tannehill is playing lights out for the Titans now that he’s away from Adam Gase, adding another layer to the skepticism that Gase can turn anything around.
26. Miami Dolphins (3-9, LW: 30)
The Dolphins can’t even tank right. One big positive from this season has been DeVante Parker’s breakout. You won’t see too many first-round picks break out in their fifth season, but it’s happening. Parker has been remarkable and was the reason the Dolphins beat the Eagles on Sunday.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8, LW: 25)
I have no idea what the Jaguars do with Nick Foles after this season. They can’t realistically cut him one year into an $88 million deal. Does he become Gardner Minshew II’s backup? Does Foles win the job next offseason? It’s kind of a mess.
24. Arizona Cardinals (3-8-1, LW: 23)
Arizona has become one of those teams in which you have no idea what you’ll get from week to week. The same team that should have won at San Francisco was trailing 34-0 at home to the reeling Rams. Just part of the growing pains for a young team.
23. Los Angeles Chargers (4-8, LW: 21)
That was an incredible way to lose a game, even for the Chargers. What’s forgotten is Mike Williams’ unbelievable catch on fourth-and-11 that set up the game-tying field goal. Williams doesn’t have the consistent impact throughout games you’d like to see, but he makes highlight catches that remind you how good he is. He’s averaging a league-leading 20.5 yards per catch this season but has no touchdowns, which is a remarkable combination.
22. Denver Broncos (4-8, LW: 28)
Drew Lock didn’t light it up, but threw a pair of touchdowns to Courtland Sutton and his deep ball late in the game drew a pass interference that set up the winning field goal. At very least, he did enough that the Broncos should be excited to see what the next four games bring.
21. Cleveland Browns (5-7, LW: 17)
A lot has and will be made of Freddie Kitchens’ “Pittsburgh Started It” T-shirt. Maybe it’s overblown, but it sums up everything that’s wrong with the Browns. This team is way too talented to be this mediocre.
20. Carolina Panthers (5-7, LW: 18)
Not that the Panthers were going to make the playoffs, but a loss at home to Washington is really disheartening. I don’t think the players will give up on Ron Rivera, though owner David Tepper did: Tepper fired Rivera on Tuesday.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7, LW: 22)
Devin White’s line Sunday: seven tackles, one quarterback hit, one interception, one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. I don’t think the Buccaneers should have drafted a middle linebacker with the fifth pick of the draft, but White will be a good one.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7, LW: 15)
There won’t be many losses this season worse than the Eagles falling at Miami. Philly was up 10-0 before anyone even settled in, and still blew it. Technically the Eagles could still win the NFC East if they beat the Cowboys at home in Week 16, but they can’t be trusted to beat anyone the rest of this season.
17. Chicago Bears (6-6, LW: 20)
I don’t take much from Mitchell Trubisky’s 338-yard game other than the Lions defense being horrendous. But it was a step in the right direction. The next four games are very important for Trubisky.
16. Oakland Raiders (6-6, LW: 13)
The Raiders’ home game against the Titans in Week 14 looks like a must-win for Oakland if it wants to stay in the wild-card hunt. The schedule after that is manageable. But after being outscored 74-12 the past two weeks, the Raiders might have already hit the wall.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5, LW: 19)
If the season ended today, the Steelers would be in the playoffs. And if the Steelers make the playoffs, it’ll be very hard to deny Mike Tomlin an NFL Coach of the Year award, even in a season with many good candidates.
14. Indianapolis Colts (6-6, LW: 12)
Jacoby Brissett is starting to get some heat. He has two touchdowns and three interceptions in five games (in one of those games he threw only five passes before injuring his knee). Brissett is capable but he’s not going to carry an offense, especially with as many key injuries as the Colts have.
13. Dallas Cowboys (6-6, LW: 11)
The funny thing is, the Cowboys are likely going to win the NFC East and host a playoff game. And they have the talent to win a couple games, despite how awful they have played since starting 3-0 against the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins.
12. Los Angeles Rams (7-5, LW: 16)
Jared Goff would have put up 500 yards had the Cardinals been more competitive. Goff has games like that and you wonder where that has been all season from him and this Rams offense.
11. Tennessee Titans (7-5, LW: 14)
Not to rain on the Titans’ win streak, but Corey Davis is shaping up as an enormous draft bust. The Titans can pass with Ryan Tannehill all of a sudden, but Davis isn’t part of it. Over the past two games he has three catches for 52 yards. He has zero 100-yard games this season, and two games with 9 yards or less. He has played 11 games and failed to top 48 yards in nine of them. This is not what the Titans expected when they took Davis fifth overall.
10. Minnesota Vikings (8-4, LW: 6)
It’s not that bad to lose at Seattle, though the Vikings have some tiebreaker problems with the Packers and are a game behind now. What’s concerning is the defense, which was so dominant two seasons ago and still has a lot of stars, simply hasn’t been very good. The Seahawks moved the ball at will, and that’s not too unusual for Vikings opponents this season. Kirk Cousins didn’t get it done in the end, but he certainly didn’t have much help from a defense that is supposed to be a lot better.
9. Houston Texans (8-4, LW: 10)
Pass rusher Jacob Martin really showed up on Sunday night. He has 2.5 sacks over Houston’s past two games and is very athletic coming off the edge. He’s 23 and one of the players acquired in the Jadeveon Clowney trade. Maybe Houston found something with him.
8. Buffalo Bills (9-3, LW: 9)
Josh Allen looked really good carving up the Cowboys. In eight games since a disastrous start against New England, Allen has 1,688 yards, 13 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 98.7 passer rating. And he’s dangerous with his legs. I’m not sure the Texans or Chiefs want to see the Bills on wild-card weekend.
7. Green Bay Packers (9-3, LW: 8)
Is Aaron Jones wearing down? He has 56 yards on 24 carries over his past two games. This is an efficient runner with a 4.9-yard career average, but a track record that includes a lot of injuries. He already has 26 more carries than his previous career high in a season. Something to keep an eye on.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4, LW: 7)
Next week’s matchup between the Chiefs offense and Patriots defense is fascinating. In the past two games, Patrick Mahomes has just 357 yards and two touchdowns, numbers that he routinely flew past in most games during his MVP season. But the Chiefs won both of their last two games. To win Sunday they’ll need a vintage Mahomes performance.
5. Seattle Seahawks (10-2, LW: 5)
It was a very good win for Seattle, but Tyler Lockett’s lack of production is concerning. Since suffering a shin injury at San Francisco that led to a hospital stay, Lockett has been practically invisible. He has one catch in two games. The Seahawks are rolling but they’re going to need Lockett to show up again to reach their full potential.
4. New Orleans Saints (10-2, LW: 4)
Saints vs. 49ers next week is a fascinating game. If the Saints win that, they’ll hold wins over the Seahawks and 49ers and would be an overwhelming favorite to get a bye and likely the No. 1 seed. It’ll be a fun showdown in the Superdome.
3. New England Patriots (10-2, LW: 2)
Running back James White is a very good player, but it’s not ideal for him to be the Patriots’ second-best receiver. The Patriots’ top two receivers are slot receiver Julian Edelman, White, and nobody else is really a factor since Mohamed Sanu fell off the map. No wonder Tom Brady looks frustrated.
2. San Francisco 49ers (10-2, LW: 3)
The 49ers did just fine in Baltimore. The 49ers had more yards and yards per play than the Ravens, the hottest team in the NFL, and lost a road game on a clutch 49-yard field goal. It was a great win for the Ravens and not a bad loss for the 49ers at all. It’s not like anyone was questioning how good the 49ers were, but Sunday was another reminder that they’re one of the NFL’s best, even in a loss.
1. Baltimore Ravens (10-2, LW: 1)
Justin Tucker is the rare kicker who is fun to watch. When he lined up for a game-winning 49-yard field goal in a rainstorm, it seemed like a chip shot. And he made it look like a chip shot. There aren’t many NFL players better at their jobs than Tucker is at his.
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