Just how low can a division winner go? The NFC East appears set to put this to a test.
The teams’ .229 combined winning percentage is the second worst for any division through Week 6 since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. The imploding Dallas Cowboys (2-4) are in first place, without their starting quarterback Dak Prescott, who is out for the remainder of the season.
If that sounds bleak, here’s a pick-me-up: The NFC East should get two wins this week, unless the Philadelphia Eagles (1-4-1) produce another tie.
Picking a winner in this division is tough. It’s like going to the pumpkin patch and being forced to pick from the misshapen options still remaining on the day before Halloween. Even the winner won’t be pretty.
ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) predicts there is a 28% chance the NFC East winner will have six or fewer wins. Again, not pretty. It even found simulations (13 out of 20,000) where the division champion emerged despite four wins.
Nobody expected this kind of start for the division, but NFC East reporters Todd Archer (Cowboys), Tim McManus (Eagles), Jordan Raanan (Giants) and John Keim (Washington) take a swing at predicting how the rest of the season will play out for their teams.
The situation: Can the Cowboys even get to seven wins?
Is there a game the rest of the season where you absolutely know the Cowboys win? There isn’t.
And whatever positives you’re thinking about the Cowboys’ chances, the other team is feeling that same way about playing them.
Injuries, turnovers, poor defensive execution.
It has added up to an immensely disappointing start to the 2020 season, and the remaining schedule does not show much promise at the moment.
Predicted finish: 7-9 — Archer
The situation: The Eagles have been ripped apart by injuries each of the past three seasons, but even for them, this is ridiculous.
It will be a struggle every week, but with Prescott lost for the season, the Eagles have the clear-cut top QB in the division in Wentz, as well as a Super Bowl-winning coach in Doug Pederson and some mettle-tested veterans.
That should be enough to clean up in the remainder of their division games.
Predicted finish: 6-9-1 — McManus
The situation: The Giants won a game, so I guess that puts them in the division mix.
It doesn’t take much these days.
They are moving in the right direction, having bought into coach Joe Judge’s program.
And unlike the Cowboys, at least Judge’s team is showing fight.
Predicted finish: 4-12 — Raanan
The situation: This was, and remains, a rebuilding season, despite the obvious desire to win the division.
Washington has lost five straight games, and four of those were by 14 or more points.
The offensive struggles were to be expected, but that wasn’t the case with the defense, which does feature a solid front.
Washington has a lot of youth, so the second half of the season will be important — not just in terms of wins and losses, but definite growth.
Predicted finish: 4-12 — Keim