The Path to the Playoffs in the NFC East

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelpia Eagles

After their 24-16 win over the Washington Redskins, the Philadelphia Eagles have the outright lead in the NFC East for the first time since Week 4 of the 2012 season (yeah, believe it or not, they actually were 3-1 and in sole possession of 1st in the division before closing the season 1-11).

No team ever wants to get too far ahead of itself in a sport where each game carries a tremendous amount of weight in the standings, but that’s why sports analysts exist in the world. It’s guys (and gals) like us that get to look ahead, especially as we’re getting down to crunch time in 2013. That being said, here’s what the road to the NFC East crown looks like for the three teams contending for what will likely be the 4th seed in the NFC playoffs.

Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles remaining scheduleCurrent record: 6-5, 1st in the NFC East

Combined schedule of remaining opponents: 25-24 (.510)

Division record: 3-2

A conservative prediction would give the Birds a 2-2 record heading into that Week 17 showdown in the Big D. Even if they manage to go 3-1 (I think that’s the more likely scenario), the division is probably going to come down to that final week. Looking back at the previous matchup between the Birds and Cowgirls is pointless if you ask me—Philly’s defense is playing at another level, Nick Foles is playing at another level, things are clicking for this team. They control their own fate, and, at this point, the division looks like it’s theirs to lose. They shouldn’t feel any pressure though, because they’re the one team that no one gave any chance coming into this season. They’re playing with house money, under the tutelage of a first-year NFL head coach, and still getting used to a brand new way of doing things. If these are the kinds of results that we’re seeing after less than a year, that should mean there’s plenty to look forward to over the next few years.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys remaining scheduleCurrent record: 5-5, 2nd in the NFC East (1/2 game back)

Combined schedule of remaining opponents: 29-31 (.475)

Division record: 3-0

The Cowboys have taken care of their divisional games which has essentially kept them in the race for the NFC East this year. They were the odds on favorite heading into 2013, but things haven’t panned out so well for America’s team (a common occurrence these days). They have the easiest schedule down the stretch, and, barring an epic collapse that would leave even Jerry Jones speechless, the division should come down to that final game against the Eagles.

New York Giants

Giants remaining scheduleCurrent record: 4-6, 3rd in the NFC East (2 1/2 games back)

Combined schedule of remaining opponents: 30-29 (.508)

Division record: 1-2

I’d say the Giants have done a hell of a job clawing their way back into the NFC East hunt, but here’s a quick look at exactly they’ve gone up against during their oh so impressive four-game winning streak: the Minnesota Vikings and the Josh Freeman project; an Eagles team with a mess at the QB position (Matt Barkley played 3.5 quarters in that one); the Oakland Raiders and a not-so-impressive Terrell Pryor who was playing with an injured hammy; and Scott Tolzien. So, yeah. Not too much to be proud of there, but here they are, in a position to make some kind of run back into the thick of things. Their schedule down the stretch, though—despite not being “as tough” as the Eagles’—isn’t exactly a cakewalk. They get Dallas, a scrappy Washington team that will be playing for pride (twice), trips to San Diego and Detroit, and a meeting with the Seahawks, a favorite to represent the conference in February.

Washington Redskins

Umm.. See you next year.

Bold Prediction: Eagles win out and get the 3rd seed in the NFC East (so long as they learn to keep their damn foot on the pedal… no more of these 24-0 leads being coughed up in the 4th quarter).

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