NFC East: Which Team Could Make the Cut for the Playoffs

Published 12/16/2020, 11:05 AM EST
Nov 26, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) and Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young (99) in action during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Football Team at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


The NFC East this season has been cited by many as the worst division ever in the league’s century-long history. With not one single team boasting of a winning record, the division is in shambles.

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All four teams have been posed with different challenges over the course of this turbulent season. The Dallas Cowboys are without their franchise-tagged star QB in Dak Prescott, Philadelphia Eagles franchise QB Carson Wentz has been so poor that he had to be benched for a rookie.

The New York Giants are (still) transitioning and Washington Football Team’s Head Coach Ron Rivera literally coached through cancer. But then again, not ever cancer could stop Rivera. 

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As things stand, the winner of the division gets a spot at the Playoffs. With the scenario being as tight as it is and all the teams are still mathematically in contention, let’s see has the best shot at making it to the Playoffs. 

Washington Football Team (6-7) 

It feels like this is the one. Washington has found form at just the right time. With the regular season winding up, Washington have turned things around.

Currently, on a 4-game winning streak, which includes wins against the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers’, the team is suddenly punching well above its weight and looks primed to win the NFC East.

What to look out for- An aspect of their game that has been key to the Washington side this season has been their defense. Their D-line is one of the best in the league boasting of the likes of veteran pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan and future superstars in Chase Young and Montez Sweat.

Young, especially, has been phenomenal over the past 2 gameweeks. With a crucial goal-line tackle against the Steelers followed by a sack, fumble and 47-yard pick up touchdown from a fumble against the 49ers, Young is proving just why he was the league’s 2nd overall draft pick this season.

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Games remaining- Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles 

If Washington wishes to extend its winning streak to 5, they’ll have to do so by getting a ‘W’ against the Seattle Seahawks. Which is by no means an easy feat.

Rivera’s band of speedsters will subsequently face the Carolina Panthers and division rivals Philadelphia Eagles. They’re also the only team in the division that controls its own fate and does not have to rely on results elsewhere.

New York Giants (5-8) 

The Giants were the only team from the division to lose a game this past week. And a thumping loss it was. Falling 26-7 to the Arizona Cardinals, the Giants lost their hold over the top spot in the division, and their shot at the Playoffs is fading fast as well.

With quarterback Daniel Jones not at 100% with a hamstring issue, the team from New York has its work cut out if it wants to qualify for the Playoffs.

Dec 6, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; New York Giants quarterback Colt McCoy (12) looks to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the third quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

What to look out for – This Giants squad has proved that it can pull off an upset. Their win against the Seahawks capped off a 4-game winning streak. It was just what the doctor ordered for the Giants.

Beating the Seahawks is no easy feat given the sort of form Wilson and DK Metcalf have been in. All that momentum came crashing down though in the game against the Cardinals.

If the Giants are to win the next two games, they’ll need to channel some of that energy they showed against Seattle.

Games remaining – Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys 

The Giants have the toughest run of games among the four. With games against the AFC North’s Browns and Ravens, the Giants sure have a mountain to climb to win their division.

They are slated to take on their division rivals Dallas Cowboys, during their last gameweek, which also is a must win game for them.

But even getting a win across all 3 games will not be enough for the Giants, who will have to rely on Washington dropping at least one game to make the Playoffs.

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Philadelphia Eagles (4-8)

The Eagles are not flying high, or are they? Just as you thought that all was over for the franchise with QB Carson Wentz playing some of the worst football of his career, in comes rookie Jalen Hurts.

The win against the New Orleans Saints was one that no one saw coming, and it was enough to give coach Doug Pederson the confidence to anoint Hurts as the starting QB for the game against the Cardinals.

What to look out for – Jalen Hurts, the rookie drafted from Alabama, stunned all by leading his team to a win against the Saints where he rushed for 106 yards and most importantly was not sacked.

Wentz, on the other hand, was being sacked on an average 4 times a game. The rookie QB can go down as a cult hero at Philly if he can channel some of the 2018-Nick Foles energy and lead the team to the top of the NFC East. 

Games remaining – Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Football Team

The Eagles first take on the Cardinals and then division rivals Cowboys and Washington. If they win all three, they’ll still have to rely on decisions elsewhere to help them top the NFC East.

A loss against the Cardinals will still not make it mathematically impossible for them to qualify, but that’s what it’ll likely remain, a mathematical possibility, not reality. 

Dallas Cowboys (4-9)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Languishing at the bottom of the pile, the Cowboys are pretty much down and out of the NFC East race.

One more loss and it’s the end of their playoff hopes for this season. Without their star QB pulling the strings, the offense has struggled. They haven’t been helped by the fact that running back Ezekiel Elliott has not been a 100%. 

Dec 8, 2020; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (19) celebrates with quarterback Andy Dalton (14) after scoring a fourth quarter touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

What to look out for – Dalton had a good game against his former team in the Cowboys’ last outing. Getting two touchdowns did his confidence a world of good.

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He looked calm and composed in the pocket and will hope to carry forward some of that form into the game against a heavily depleted-49ers squad.

Games remaining– San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants

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Each game is a must-win. No ifs and no buts. The rest is up to the football gods. Dallas will need a string of favorable results if they are to make the Playoffs. The feeling is that the game against the 49ers might just be the final nail in the coffin.

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Shivayan Roy

746 articles

Shivayan Roy is currently an NFL writer at EssentiallySports. After completing his Masters Diploma in Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism, Roy functioned as a reporter for Goal.com and extensively covered the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

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