Football Team

Why each NFC East team will, and won't, win the forsaken division

Football Team

The 2020 NFC East stinks — really badly — and you know that — really well — by now.

By rule, however, one of the four squads in the division has to win it and advance to the playoffs. Even if that squad finishes 6-10 or 5-10-1 or 4-7-5 or whatever. That's how it works in the NFL.

So, because someone has to sit atop this thing by the time Week 17 is completed, let's discuss the main reason the Washington Football Team, Cowboys, Giants and Eagles all will do so — and the main reason they won't.

The Cowboys

Why they will win it: Their skill players

As the non-Cowboys members of the NFC East continue to stumble and fumble and bumble and any other -umble you can come up with, most have assumed that Dallas will just pull away. That clearly hasn't happened yet.

It still very well could, though, because they have so much talent, even if that talent isn't producing victories yet. 

Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb make up easily the best core of skill players in the division. Sure, Andy Dalton's going to have to perform a lot better to ensure he properly uses those guys like Dak Prescott was, but still, they're so loaded on offense. Should that unit get going with their backup, the other franchises won't be able to keep up.

Why they won't: Their defense (and they might already hate each other)

 

At the rate their defense is going, the Cowboys could have three Elliotts, Coopers, Gallups and Lambs and still not be able to offset their other unit.

Mike McCarthy and Mike Nolan's defense is allowing 36.3 points a contest, which is the worst in the league by four points. It's honestly impressive they're so awful and so much more awful than everyone else, too.

Plus, this feels important: Players are telling the media that the staff is "unprepared" and "not good at their jobs." Nothing like some good ol' fashioned infighting seven weeks into a coach's first year on the job, right?

The Eagles

Why they will win it: Carson Wentz

Saying Carson Wentz needs to do a better job protecting the ball is like saying the average person needs to floss more. Everyone knows it; the question is whether it'll happen.

If Wentz can cut down the turnovers and just get somewhat close to his old, MVP-ish form, he'll be the best quarterback around. It wouldn't even be close, either.

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Philly's ridiculous run of injuries isn't doing much to set Wentz up for success, but he has shown the ability in the past to carry a roster. He needs to up his game until some reinforcements return and then ascend from there.

Why they won't: Their health

Wentz's offensive line is essentially unrecognizable at this point, while his targets are quite short-handed as well. The defense also hasn't been spared, and overall, Philadelphia's already lost players for a combined 77 "man games" this season.

Those in and around an NFL locker room will never use injuries as an excuse, but sometimes, injuries are a totally valid excuse. Even in the NFC East, it's hard to remain in the mix when relying on third- and -fourth stringers. That's a lot of strings.

The Giants

Why they will win it: They're actually buying into Joe Judge?

Joe Judge made his guys do some wacky stuff in training camp. Like, stuff that was so wacky, Jim Zorn would call it wacky. But somehow, the Giants seem to have bought in and actually like their new leader?

What's happening in Dallas, as far as players already revolting against their new coach, doesn't seem to be happening at all in New York. That cohesion could explain why the Giants are slowly — slowly — improving. And a slow improvement may be all it takes for them to reach the postseason.

Why they won't: History

For one of these organizations to "earn" the "crown" of "champion," they'll need to beat up on their rivals and rack up wins there, where they're most available. But the Giants haven't done much of that lately.

 

New York has dropped its last seven to the Eagles and its last seven to the Cowboys. They also haven't won this thing since 2011, which is a lengthy time in what's usually a muddled race. Maybe the most muddled of muddled races still won't be enough for them?

Washington

Why they will win it: Their defensive line

It went down approximately seven years ago, but Washington's defensive line did look like a total nightmare to deal with in the 2020 opener. They haven't matched that eight-sack output since, and Matt Ioannidis is now done, but the group still has quite a few reputable pass rushers left.

Look at their remaining schedule, too. The Burgundy and Gold get to face the following foes: The Cowboys twice, the Giants again, the Lions, the Bengals, the 49ers, the Seahawks and the Eagles again. Respectively, those offensive lines are 20th, 23rd, 21st, 31st, 26th, 25th and 32nd in terms of sacks allowed.

All offseason long, Washington's D-line was hailed as their strength. Those matchups will all be opportunities for that strength to really put up strong numbers.

Why they won't: Quarterback drama

Ron Rivera has already switched quarterbacks once, and with Kyle Allen fresh off of a two-turnover day and Alex Smith waiting, another change could be coming soon. Hell, Dwayne Haskins may get to start again at some point, if he isn't traded first.

There may not be much difference in skill between those three signal callers, but regardless, going back and forth and back again between them, which feels rather inevitable, is going to take a toll on the entire operation. That's just not an effective way to climb to the top of the standings, even when the standings are as climb-able as these.