The NFC East, or, Your Annual Sideshow
It’s becoming an annual tradition, if traditions can be painful, comical, entertaining all at once. The NFC East might not always provide the most asthetic brand of football, but for sheer drama it’s hard to find a division that’s provided quantity over quality for more than a decade.
Division winners in order since 2004: Philadelphia, New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, New York, Dallas, Philadelphia, New York.
Parity. Chaos. Always entertaining.
Last year, the Giants and Cowboys squared off in a season ending game for the division. It was suppose to be a meaningless game in the grand scheme of things, the mediocre cream rising to the top, and somehow, the Giants won it all.
That makes about as much sense as this season, where the Giants look likely to be out of the playoffs, even though they’re the owners of signature wins over San Francisco and Green Bay. In Philadelphia, the dream team curse continues and Mike Vick has gone from the subject of an entire ESPN magazine to the inventor of the fumblebrag.
And so, come Sunday, it’s the previously 3-6 Washington Redskins against the perpetually lingering Cowboys team in a winner take all.
The Cowboys — America’s Team by no one’s definition — always flash the potential of a 12-4 team, and yet there’s always a handful of inexplicable, close losses that prevent them from being anything but average (this year: Week 6 at Baltimore, Week 8 vs. Giants, last week vs. Saints). And somehow, Romo’s having another “maybe he can sustain this level of play” stretch and Dez Bryant might be the best wideout in the league, and so, here they are again with a shot at the post-season.
But consider this: Under Romo, the Cowboys have had as many playoff victories as Tim Tebow does. Mark Sanchez has four playoff wins to Romo’s one. Sure, it’s not always on the quarterback, but the franchise has underachieved and made questionable personnel decisions (Roy Williams trade, anyone). In another division, in another league, that means you relegate yourself to irrelevance. Here in the NFC East, you get your shot at redemption every Week 17.
For the Redskins, their coach said it was time to look ahead to next season a month and a half ago, and no one in the fanbase particularly disagreed. But no team has a brighter outlook than Washington, not when RG3 is the man leading the way.
And come Sunday, Griffin III looks to join fellow rookies Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson as playoff qualifiers. It would be a wonderful story, and for that very fact, no one will be surprised if the Cowboys prevent that happy ending from happening.
This is the NFC East, no need for rational arguments here.