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6 ways in which the NFC East in the worst division you’ve ever seen

It’s bad. It’s so so bad.

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You mocked Doug Pederson for playing for the tie, didn’t you?

You mocked Doug Pederson’s genius to play not to lose against the Cincinnati Bengals two weeks ago because, through one-quarter of the NFL season, that tie against the lowly Bengals at home has the Eagles sitting at 1-2-1 following their 25-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.

Shame on you.

Of course, there is no shame for ripping Pederson’s decision to punt the ball away with seconds left in overtime two weeks ago. Had he gone for it on 4th and 12 from the Bengals 46 with 19 seconds left, he might have converted. And it certainly wasn’t guaranteed that he would have lost had he tried and failed, as Cincinnati would have had precious little time to get within field goal range. Pederson himself admitted he made the wrong call, so everyone should stop saying Doug made the right decision when he played it safe that afternoon.

That being said, the Eagles have just two losses this season, one fewer than the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team (1-3), and two less than the winless New York Giants (0-4), which puts them at the top of the NFC East manure pile through one-quarter of the NFL season. If you thought last year’s 9-7 divisional crown won by the Birds was a bit lackluster, 2020 is asking 2019 to hold its beer.

Is it the worst division ever? Here are seven ways in which the NFC East just might be the worst you’ve ever seen.

The Records

The combined record of the Eagles, Cowboys, Football Team and Giants is 3-12-1. In 2014, the NFC South was a tire fire as well. The Carolina Panthers won the division with a 7-8-1 record, followed by the New Orleans Saints at 7-9, the Atlanta Falcons at 6-10 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tanking for Jameis Winston at 2-14. The division had a combined 22-41-1 record that season, making it one of the worst divisions in NFL history. The NFC East is fixin’ to give that record a run for its money.

In addition, the NFC East is 2-11-1 against teams outside the division and has been outscored by a collective 125 points this year. Yikes.

The Cowboys Defense

Everyone knew the potential was there for Dallas to have an ugly defense this year, but no one expected it to be this bad. They have allowed 146 points in four games, most in team history, they gave up 20 points to the Rams, 39 to the Falcons (in a win they stole from Atlanta), 38 to Seattle and 49 to the Cleveland Browns.

They’re giving up 430.5 yards per game, 3rd-worst in the NFL, and an insane 172.5 yards per game on the ground, 2nd-worst in the league. Quarterbacks have a 114.3 rating against Dallas’ secondary this season, 3rd-highest in the NFL, with just one interception thus far.

Eagles’ Injuries

Carson Wentz’ top three receivers for their Sunday night showdown with the Niners were Greg Ward, who was on the practice squad for the first three-quarters of 2019, Deyontay Burnett, who was on the practice squad this whole season until Sunday, and John Hightower, a rookie 5th-round pick. The offense was also without tight end Dallas Goedert, a vital component in the Birds’ 12 personnel, which they use more than any other team in the NFL.

The offensive line was missing Jason Peters, Isaac Seamalu, Brandon Brooks, Andre Dillard and, for some of the 49ers game, Lane Johnson. In their places were Jordan Mailata, Nate Herbig, Matt Pryor, and Jack Driscoll. Only Jason Kelce remained on the O-line from the 2017 Super Bowl by the time the final whistle sounded Sunday night. Oh, and the team’s No. 2 cornerback Avonte Maddox was also out.

The QBs

Dak Prescott has easily had the best season of the four thus far, with a league-leading 1,690 passing yards through the first four games, although a good portion of that yardage was acquired in garbage time last week when Dallas trailed big against Cleveland. Still, you can’t turn up your nose at a 102.6 passer rating that ranks 11th in the NFL.

Now, for the other three. It’s ugly. Washington’s Dwayne Haskins has an 80.3 passer rating, which is 5th-worst in the league. New York’s Daniel Jones’ 68.3 is 2nd-worst, while Carson Wentz’ 66.9 remains the worst rating in the league. Right now, three of the five worst QBs are doing their thing in the horrific NFC East.

The Giants Offense

Jason Garrett’s arrival in New York has not exactly helped Daniel Jones and the Giants’ offense. Only the Jets have averaged fewer yards per game than the Giants’ futile offense thus far, 278.0 yards per game. Jones, playing without running back Saquon Barkley for the rest of the season, doesn’t figure to score much more than the 11.8 points per game he’s averaged for the first four weeks, easily the lowest total in the NFL. Jones has been sacked 14 times this year, tied with Wentz for 3rd-most in the league, and their 76.5 rushing yards per game is 2nd-worst, three yards better than the Houston Texans’ 73.5.

Jones was supposed to be better in his second season, but without Barkley in the backfield and a lack of big play talent around him, he faces the same headwinds as Haskins in Washington and Wentz in Philly.

Washington’s No-Play Makers

Down 28-10 with 11:41 to play in the 4th quarter on a 4th and goal from the 13, this is not the throw to make, Mr. Haskins.

Of course, Haskins has not had much help in his first two seasons as Washington’s QB. After being selected No. 2 overall in the 2019 draft, Haskins has one elite skill player, wide receiver Terry McLaurin, and a rookie running back in Antonio Gibson that may or may not turn into something useful.

ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky broke down Haskins’ Week 4 performance against Baltimore and said the problems go far beyond the second year signal caller.

Ron Rivera has some work to do, folks.

Look, one of these teams is going to the playoffs. The league mandates that at least one squad from every division play for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. So in advance, America, on behalf of the NFC East, I apologize for ruining wild card weekend.

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