The NFC (L)East: The Worst Competitive Division Ever

By Saransh Sharma, Rohan Krishnan, and Pranav Thiriveedhi

The NFC East’s current leader, the Philadelphia Eagles, has a half-game lead over the other 3 teams in the division, who are in a 3-way tie for second place in the division. These teams must be good, right? Well, they certainly are competitive, and they have had their fair share of injuries, unlucky losses, roster changes, blowouts, coaching turmoil, and everything in between. All of these teams have 3 wins, with the Eagles only having a half-game lead over the rest of the division due to the tie they had with the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3. This week has some big division games coming, with the Cowboys hosting Washington on Thanksgiving Day, the Giants playing the Bengals, and the Eagles hosting the Seahawks on Monday Night Football. Here are our predictions for who wins the NFC East:

Current NFC East Standings:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1), Division Record: (2-2)
  2. New York Giants (3-7), Division Record: (3-2)
  3. Washington Football Team (3-7), Division Record (2-2)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (3-7), Division Record (1-2)

Saransh’s NFC East Winner: Washington Football Team

Washington Remaining Schedule: @ Cowboys (3-7), @ Steelers (10-0), @ 49ers (4-6) vs. Seahawks (7-3), vs. Panthers (4-7), @ Eagles (3-6-1)

Yes, I am a Washington fan, but no, I am not saying this in a biased sense. Right now, of the 4 starting quarterbacks in the NFC East, the one quarterback that I trust most to not turn the football over and make poor decisions, win games, and use their experience to their advantage, is none other than Alex Smith. For New York, Daniel Jones has shown improvement over a 2-game stretch, where they played Washington and Philadelphia, but is still a turnover machine. For Dallas, Andy Dalton is still shaky and does not have the best chemistry with all of the Cowboys’ WRs, although he has a very nice connection with CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz. And lastly, for Philadephia, Carson Wentz has the clock ticking on him as the starter in Philadelphia. Alex Smith is a born winner, and when he had come into Washington, he was at the time in the top-5 in terms of winningest active QBs at the time (2018). Then, of course, the gruesome leg injury happened which nearly ended his career and his ability to ever walk again, yet he is here on a football field, inspiring the young Washington Football Team to be in winning situations and even win games, something that has not been seen in Washington for years. Alex Smith may never be even half of what he was as a QB before his injury, but he is still a winner and a leader, and the other quarterbacks in the division are not showing that right now. On top of that, Terry McLaurin has been unreal and is easily the most underrated wide receiver in the entire league, but most of all has been another great leader on the field and in the locker room.

The defense, who are middle-of-the-pack against the run, is ranked #1 in the NFL against the pass and 3rd in sacks. Having guys like rookie sensation Chase Young be double and even triple-teamed at times, has allowed the rest of the front seven, like Jonathan Allen, DaRon Payne, and Ryan Kerrigan, to get constant pressure along with Young. Then there is the secondary, led by cornerbacks Kendall Fuller and Ronald Darby, who have quietly led the #1 pass defense in the entire NFL. To be fair, the stats are misleading, as this defense has had some big games, such as their 7-sack performance in Week 1 against the Eagles, but also poor games, like giving up 30 points to a Lions offense without Kenny Golladay. If they can find even the slightest bit of consistency, as the offense is beginning to show now under Alex Smith, this team can win the games they should win, and do enough to win the division.

Washington should beat Dallas on Thanksgiving and should beat the Eagles to complete the season sweep to finish 4-2 in the NFC East overall. Outside of that, Carolina should be a win, and a sneaky win could come against the 49ers, who will be without George Kittle and most likely also Jimmy Garoppolo. Without the 49ers win, they would finish 6-10, and they would finish 7-9 with it. Either way, I do not think any other NFC East team finishes with more than 5 wins. The Giants, who are the biggest competition to Washington for the division title, have all but two of their remaining games against teams with winning records, and I do not see the Giants doing enough to get past Washington. HC Ron Rivera has battled through cancer this season, and Alex Smith, while being nothing more than an average QB, has still made one of the greatest comebacks from an injury in the history of sports. This team not only could end up being the best in the NFC East when it is all said and done, but also the most inspiring. Whatever happens in this wild division, it will be intriguing (and ugly) to watch, and all of these teams will have their work cut out for them this offseason.

Pranav’s NFC East Winner: New York Giants

New York’s Remaining Schedule: @ Bengals (2-7-1), @ Seahawks (7-3), vs. Cardinals (6-4), vs. Browns (7-3), @ Ravens (6-4), vs. Cowboys (3-7)

Let me start by saying I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan. ‘Go Birds’ and all that stuff, but this year? The Eagles stink, and no single person can be blamed. Sure, Carson Wentz and his disgusting attempt at being a marginally good quarterback, or Doug Pederson and his awful play-calling, have failed miserably, but this is a team problem that is not a one-week fix. Let us face reality here, the Eagles have tried to fix these problems every week, yet nothing has changed. Fans and critics thought it might be because half the team is injured but the truth is the Eagles are not the best in the NFC East, regardless of their place in the division presently. At the beginning of the season, Dallas and Philadelphia split the predictions for winners of the NFC East, but after the injury to Dak Prescott, Dallas doesn’t have a shot. The Philadelphia Eagles, for the last few weeks, have been too quick to crown themselves as the division winners, but now everyone can see that they might have called it too early. They have probably the hardest remaining schedule in the NFC East, playing four Super Bowl contenders in a row: Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, and Arizona. 

On the other hand, the dark horse team in the NFC East, the New York Giants, are riding on a few wins. The New York Giants and I hate to say this, are the best team in the division. No one expected them to be anywhere outside of the last place in the division to start the season, and even more after Saquon Barkley’s season-ending injury, but things change. For starters, the Giants have the easiest remaining schedule, and being tied for second is a big help for them because one win already puts them in the driver seat for the East. The Giants are better than the Washington Football Team, having the series sweep. The Giants are also better than the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite having split the season series, the Giants have dominated both matchups with ball control, as they lost their first matchup with Philly due to avoidable penalties. And lastly, the Giants are better than the Dallas Cowboys, and I do not even have to explain. I know I should have no bias as an Eagles fan, but I will never give the Cowboys any love unless they have 1:1 odds to win something.

That being said, the Giants are in the position to take the NFC East, but this is still a division too early to call. We don’t know what is going to happen, or what more (or less) to expect, and to be honest with you, it is not good. All I can say is that none of these teams are going anywhere this season and will be undergoing major changes this offseason. 

Rohan’s NFC East Winner: New York Giants

New York’s Remaining Schedule: @ Bengals (2-7-1), @ Seahawks (7-3), vs. Cardinals (6-4), vs. Browns (7-3), @ Ravens (6-4), vs. Cowboys (3-7)

I am also a Washington fan like Saransh, yet I believe the Giants will come out on top and take the NFC East crown. Joe Judge is doing a solid job in his first year as head coach of the Giants, and the team is making incremental progress game after game. Daniel Jones is starting to pull it together with consecutive no turnover performances, and I trust the Giants defense the most in this division. The Giants defense is ranked 12th in the NFL in scoring average this season, with several standout players, including lockdown cornerback James Bradberry, Blake Martinez, and Leonard Williams. Also, over the last 6 games, the Giants are 3-3 and those three losses are just by 6 points. One of those losses includes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are viewed by many as Super Bowl contenders. The Giants were playing the best football of any team in the NFC East before their bye, and I think they will get 3 more wins (CIN, CLE, DAL) to win the division. I view Dallas as the biggest competition to the Giants. They have the easiest road as they still get to play each of the East teams once and have opponents like the 49ers and Bengals on their schedule. They have also been very competitive, nearly beating the undefeated Steelers at home and knocking off the Vikings recently on the road. The offense looked solid with Andy Dalton back and Zeke had his best game in a while, totaling over 100 rushing yards for the first time this season. Tony Pollard has also been a nice touch, as he added some quality carries and a TD against the Vikings. They also have a special talent in CeeDee Lamb who is looking like the best rookie receiver in the draft class. However, the Cowboys defense needs to improve, especially their poor secondary. Their run defense is atrocious as well, allowing a whopping 153.8 yards on the ground per game to opposing offenses. 

The Cowboys hopes for winning the NFC East division will likely disappear if their defense is not up for the task. Washington, meanwhile, has a solid chance but a few problems of their own. Let us start with the defense, who was supposed to be one of the best units in the league under DC Jack Del Rio but has not lived up to the hype. By looking at the numbers, you might think that Washington has an above-average defense, however, it’s the complete opposite. Their defensive line has plenty of talent like Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Daron Payne, but have failed to take advantage of poor offensive lines, which proved to be critical in getting swept by the New York Giants. These losses hurt Washington big time as the Giants now have the tiebreaker. The linebacker core and secondary are both very weak and it showed when they played average offenses like the Lions. However, I also think a better offense would have a positive impact on the defense. The offense is badly underperforming overall, ranked 29th in the league, and Alex Smith is nothing more than an average quarterback. Washington has a bright future with star receiver Terry McLaurin and rookie running back Antonio Gibson, and their offensive line is looking better than expected, but aren’t going to go far with the style and play of this offense. The Thanksgiving game between Washington and Dallas will be very critical, as Washington can take the tiebreaker over Dallas with a win. 

Finally, Philadelphia is terrible, starting with QB Carson Wentz. He currently leads the league in interceptions and is making head-scratching mistakes game after game. Ever since that ACL injury, Wentz has been trending downward and could crash down to the point of no return. Carson is not the only one to blame, though. The coaching staff has regressed, and Head Coach Doug Pederson should be fired this offseason. Veterans like Jason Peters, Alshon Jeffery, and Jalen Mills are on the decline. The Eagles are a dumpster fire and could very well lose out and only win 3 games this season, as they have the toughest remaining schedule in the division. 

This division is all-around terrible, and we might see the worst division winner of all time. The worst record that a playoff team has ever recorded is 7-9 (Seahawks, 2010), and it is hard for me to envision an NFC East team even getting to 7 wins. It is crazy to think that one of these teams is going to host a playoff game. I do see this division coming down to the very last game, however, and that game would be Week 17: Cowboys @ Giants, a winner-take-all game to decide the division. One thing we can all agree on is that the team that makes the playoffs will not go far, and all of these teams have to make major changes this offseason. 

Redskins vs. Giants: The NFC East Decider

The Washington Redskins are huge underdogs coming into this game, though my prediction is that these 2 teams will go 1-2 in the NFC East and ease into the playoffs. Whoever wins is No. 1 in the division, and the loser gets No. 2. This game is between 2 teams that have MVP-caliber quarterbacks in potential rookie of the year Robert Griffin III and 2-time Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning. This is a matchup of 2 QBs selected as either No. 1 or No. 2. This also features 2 teams that are tied for the 2nd highest points scored per game.

Key Matchups

RG3 vs. Eli Manning

In a matchup that is very important, this is what I expect.

RG3:

30-36, 309 yards, 1 TD, 12 carries, 100 yards, 1 TD

Griffin is going to have a fantastic performance against the Giants, a team that has just 3.5 sacks in the last 4 games and have one of the lowest amount of sacks by any defense.

Eli Manning

29-45, 305 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Manning will have a great game, though not as spectacular as Griffin’s. Expect some struggles.

My call: The Redskins will win a close battle, winning 26-19.

My MLB World Series Predictions

Now, the Washington Nationals were stunned in Game 5 by the St. Louis Cardinals, the comeback kids. The NY Yankees dreams have been shattered after Derek Jeter went down with an ankle injury and is expected to miss the rest of the postseason. Now, it’s Yanks vs. Tigers, and Cardinals vs. Giants. Here are my predictions for who will win the World Series.

Yankees vs. Tigers

In this situation where you’re down a game and DJ3K is out, you have to panic. He is noted as out for rest of the postseason, so Robby (Robinson) Cano and Alex Rodriguez will have to step up. Hiroki Kuroda, CC Sabathia, and the rest of the bullpen will have to step up late in the game. Josè Valverdè struggled to close the game out in the 9th, and the game was tied at 2 going into the 10th. David Smyly got it done in the 11th and 12th, and Delmon Young’s double made it a 4-2 lead. I expect Miguel Cabrera and Co. to take advantage of Jeter’s absence, as the Tigers cruise into the World Series to sweep NY.

Cardinals vs. Giants

Throughout the DS vs. Nationals, they had outscored the Nats 23-9 thanks to the monster batting game. Carpenter should ease out Game 1 against a Giants batting crew that struggles. Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey have had to ride the whole team on their backs because the team has been struggling all postseason. I expect this to be a big series, though I think Matt Cain and Co. will be able to win and make it to the World Series for the 2nd time in 4 years.

Tigers vs. Giants

The World Series will be decided by who can win the batting battle. Both teams have young, talented batters, and so this series will be one of the best we’ve ever seen in the history of baseball. The Tigers will win in a tough and hard-nosed 7 games. Miguel Cabrera will win the World Series MVP Award.

NFL Week 5: The Injury Report

Week 5 has been a week in the NFL which has been full of injuries to many key players from their respective teams. Let’s have an update to see how bad the outcome of these injuries are.

Lamaar Woodley: Right Hamstring, Questionable Return.

Woodley’s injury seemed scary at first, but the Steelers won’t have to worry after the great play by backup linebackers Lawrence Timmons and James Worilds. Woodley had not registered a tackle or any other defensive stat.

Troy Polamalu: Aggravating Right Calf, Out Week 6 (vs. Titans).

Polamalu’s injury will be very serious. The Steelers only hope at Strong Safety is Ryan Clark, who says that it is hard to see Polamalu get hurt after forcing Michael Vick’s second fumble (which he recovered and fell 1 yard shy of the end zone).

Robert Griffin III: Mild Concussion, Questionable Week 6 Return.

RG3’s season has been nothing short of spectacular. He’s had one of the best rookie seasons you could’ve imagined from a rookie quarterback. This will hurt for Redskins fans. The Redskins are testing out Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman.

BJ Raji: Ankle, Expected to Play Week 6.

Raji has been one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL, and for Green Bay players and coaching staff, the injury sure did look ugly. Luckily for the Packers, Raji is to return for Week 6.

Cedric Benson: Foot, Questionable Return.

Many said that he would be the best running back in Packers history, though his dreams of being a great back were shattered. Packers are looking to use John Kuhn on a lot of rushing plays.

Andre Brown: Concussion, Questionable Return.

Brown was looking to impress a lot of experts this season with his great speed and blocking ability. The Giants used a good 200 rushing yards from Ahmad Bradshaw, so there’s no need to worry for NY Giants fans.

Will it be a big return and bounce-back for these players, or will some have to go home and cheer on their team as a spectator? What’s next for these players and their future? We shall wait to find out what will happen…

The Oldest Rivalry in Football: Giants vs. Eagles

The oldest rivalry in football continues Sunday night at 8:20pm on NBC. Already, we’ve seen the best and worst from these teams through the first 3 games. There will be some serious matchups coming in to this game.

Eli Manning vs. Nnamdi Asomougha

Manning needs to make sure that he doesn’t make any careless throws. Watch out for Nnamdi Asomougha, because he could take one to the house. As long as Eli doesn’t throw too many picks and is able to find Cruz and Nicks open, the Giants should be just fine.

Micheal Vick vs.  Jason Pierre-Paul

We have not seen the best from Vick or the Philadelphia Eagles. They lead the league with 12 turnovers, after having just 8 all of last season. Again, we’ll probably see the worst from Vick, and possibly the best performance from Pierre-Paul thus far.

Victor Cruz vs. Desean Jackson

Wideout vs. Wideout matchup. This will probably be the matchup that decides who wins the game. Cruz has been unstoppable, while Jackson has been impressive, but not good enough for a ‘bounce-back’ season.  Cruz will probably be doing the salsa in the end zone while Jackson just makes catches for about 10-20 yards, and probably a punt return for a TD.

My call: This game will be competitive, but the Giants have the odds in their favor. The defense will pressure Vick quite a bit, while Cruz should be salsa-ing all night. NY Giants: 30, Philadelphia Eagles 20.