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NFL Draft

What’s Worst Possible Record That Could Win NFC East?

  • The Draft Network
  • October 9, 2020
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East? I thought you said least!

The NFC East, as a whole, is not off to a great start this season. Four games into the schedule and the Philadelphia Eagles are currently in first place and control their own destiny at *double-checks notes* 1-2-1. Looks like Doug Pederson taking the soft way out and playing for the tie at the end of overtime against the Bengals paid off after all. Take that, doubters!

Getting back on track here, looking at how the New York Giants are trying to win games with a first-time head coach and without their best player, how the Washington Football Team just benched their starting quarterback, how the Dallas Cowboys are on a historically bad pace defensively, and how the Eagles’ roster once again looks like a hospital check-in sheet, we might not have the strongest representative in the playoffs from that division this year.

But there does have to be one team from the NFC East that goes to the postseason every year. Which got me to thinking. What’s the worst record one of these teams could have and still win the division?

Before we look over how bad we can make these teams’ records, let’s go over the tiebreakers when it comes to determining division winners and playoff spots.

If there are two franchises with identical records at the end of the season, this is the order of operations to determine who comes out on top (in order).

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs)
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference
  5. Strength of victory
  6. Strength of schedule
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed
  9. Best net points in common games
  10. Best net points in all games
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games
  12. Coin toss

But what if there are multiple teams with similar records? If that were to happen, the only thing that would change is the first step would then involve more teams. Whenever the process of elimination for multiple teams eliminates one of them, the steps would then reset at the top for the remaining two teams.

So, now that we know that, here is the current state of the NFC East:

Philadelphia Eagles: 1-2-1

Washington Football Team: 1-3-0

Dallas Cowboys: 1-3-0

New York Giants: 0-4-0

As of right now, Washington holds second place because their one win was in the division against the Eagles. That gives them one more win in the division than the Cowboys, who have yet to start division play.

To set the stage for our journey into the abyss of the NFC East, let’s fast forward through the boring parts. Using, I started from where we currently are in the season and chose every game (even the ones outside of these four teams) each week the way I believed they’d finish, while having all NFC East teams lose each week they were facing non-NFC East teams. Then, on occasions where one of these four teams did face a division opponent, chose the winner based on whatever helped us get to an even 3-3 division finish for each team.

But there was another wrinkle to consider. Since this year in the NFC East is not only bad but also hilarious, the Eagles are only on top right now because they have a tie against the Bengals. However, lucky for us, the entire division plays the Bengals this year, and the only team to have played them yet is Philly. So when Washington, Dallas, and New York played the Bengals in the schedule, I gave them a tie.

Let us begin.

Week 5: Giants at Cowboys

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is passing the ball at a historic rate. No, really, he’s currently on pace to beat Peyton Manning’s single-season passing record by more than 1,000 yards. The bad news is, the Cowboys defense is giving up even more points than the offense is scoring.

Congrats, Joe Judge, on your first win. All those gassers were worth it. 

Week 6: Football Team at Giants 

After benching Dwayne Haskins in favor of Kyle Allen, citing the reason as “the division is wide open,” Allen can’t get the ball past the 50-yard line and the Giants win 6-3.

Washington is no longer in control of their divisional destiny and the Giants get their second NFC East win.

Week 7: Giants at Eagles

Carson Wentz and the rest of the team get a little bit healthier and a little more on track, and when I say that, I mean they’re still bad but the Giants are worse.

Big win for the birds.

Week 8: Cowboys at Eagles

A crucial showdown that was supposed to have monumental implications for who would come away with the division title this season. I guess that’s still true, but in truly the worst way possible.

Cowboys upset the Eagles to take a commanding two-game divisional lead over them in the standings.

Week 9: Giants at Football Team

Oh, brother, didn’t we just do this one?

After seeing that Allen is who we thought he was, a pissed off Haskins is re-inserted into the starting lineup. Haskins angrily has the game of his life, throws five touchdowns and Rivera says after the game that this was all part of the plan when they made the move to bench Haskins and he “knew he had it in him all along.”

Week 10: Eagles at Giants

Look, everything about this game says the Eagles are going to win.

Which is why they won’t.

Week 12: Football Team at Cowboys

At this point in the season, Prescott will have thrown for over 5,000 yards with four games still to play. His arm is so shot science has replaced it with a robot arm. Haskins is back to being bad. Robot Cowboys win.

Week 16: Eagles at Cowboys

This is it. The marbles—all of them. It’s for it. Er, them. Whatever, you get it.

Carson Wentz has one of those games where the Lord looks upon him with great favor and he can do no wrong. In a game that goes down to the wire, Doug Pederson converts a fourth-down try from the exact same yard line that terrified him in the Bengals game that led to the tie. He converts. Fears are overcome. Barriers are broken. The Eagles win. And Pederson is once again allowed to enter city limits without a police escort.

All is well in the city of brotherly love.

Week 17: Cowboys at Giants

Prescott has done it, he’s become the only quarterback to throw for 6,000 yards. As he is carried off the field Tobey Maguire Spiderman style, he holds up his robot arm in the form of a thumbs up. Cowboys fans erupt in cheers and tears. Their record is 4-11-1.

Week 17: Football Team at Eagles

Knowing that their destiny is in their hands after the victory against Dallas last week, the Eagles would not be denied. With their entire roster back and healthy, not even a single player questionable, they take down the Washington Football team on the back of three Nate Gerry defensive touchdowns.

At the end of a wild ride, the NFC East standings read:

Philadelphia Eagles: 4-11-1

Dallas Cowboys 4-11-1

New York Giants: 3-12-1

Washington Football Team: 3-12-1

After making sure each team finished with a 3-3 divisional record, the Eagles and Cowboys finished one game ahead of both New York and Washington, due to the fact that they already have wins outside of the division right now that I cannot change.

In order to determine who would be representing the worst division in the history of football, we had to go pretty far down the tiebreak order.

Both teams had the same record to start. They also had the same record head-to-head at 1-1. They were also similar in that they were both 3-3 in the division. When it came to common games, the only game outside of their division that they didn’t lose was the Bengals game they both tied—so once again deadlocked. Then we had to open it up to wins against any team in the conference. Since the Eagles had their win against the San Francisco 49ers and the Cowboys had their win against the Atlanta Falcons, that one win apiece yet again made them even. It is not until we get down to the fifth tiebreaker where we determine the winner. That category is “strength of victory.” Since the Niners finished with a better record than the Falcons, the Eagles’ one extra win meant more than the Cowboys’.

And there we have it, the Eagles hosting a playoff game in the Wild Card round with a record of 4-11-1 as the worst possible record an NFC East team can make it into the playoffs with.

I’m going to go lie down for a while now.

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