No division in the NFL has produced a more mind-boggling storyline than the NFC East this season.
It’s fitting the division winner will be decided by a meeting between the Eagles (4-10-1), who blew their unlikely shot at the NFC East title in Week 16, and the Washington Football Team (6-9), who can still clinch a playoff spot in what has been one of the franchise's most tumultuous seasons in recent memory.
Even if Washington can pull off just one more victory over the Eagles, their prize would be a tough matchup with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On ProFootballTalk Tuesday, Chris Simms and Mike Florio highlighted the significance of Sunday’s fixtures. Before Washington and Philadelphia take the field, the Cowboys and Giants will have already duked it out over their shot at the playoffs, which can only be realized if Ron Rivera’s team comes up short.
“We’ve seen sub-500 teams win in the postseason, so throw out the records at this point. What matters at this point is Washington wins the division if they win Sunday night. If they lose, the winner of the Cowboys-Giants game is in. I love it.”
After the release of quarterback Dwayne Haskins on Monday, Ron Rivera stated that Alex Smith will get the nod on Sunday if he can overcome the calf injury that kept him out of their Week 16 loss to the Panthers. If he can play and lead his team to an unlikely playoff berth, the Alex Smith comeback story could reach a new height.
“I really do think Washington winning the division would be the sentimental favorite and would just feel good,” Florio said.
But even if Washington can pull off a victory, neither Simms nor Florio favor their chances of making it past their next opponent.
“Whoever wins is going to get to host Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that’s your consolation prize,” Simms said. “I don’t think that’s good for Washington. I don’t think they match up well.”
While Washington’s defense ranks seventh in the NFL, the Buccaneers' recent run suggests they might be peaking at the right time. And with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time under center in Tom Brady, the Bucs spell trouble for whoever emerges out of the NFC East.
“It’s still the worst division in football, but they’re still hosting a playoff game. And we’ve seen teams sub .500 hosting playoff games Wild Card weekend and winning,” Florio said.