In recent years the NFC East has earned the unflattering label of being the worst division in football, with many referring to the division as the “NFC Least”. While the national media will most likely continue the use of the moniker it is disingenuous to claim that the NFC East has consistently been the worst division in football.
In 2016 the NFC East produced three teams with winning records; the 13-3 Cowboys, the 11-5 Giants, and the 8-7-1 Redskins (the AFC North and NFC West only produced one). While the Eagles finished under .500 they did manage to finish the season 7-9. The NFC East ended the season as the best division in the entire NFC with an overall 39-24 record while the Cowboys were also able to secure the #1 seed in the NFC. The Giants also made the playoffs, meaning two of the six of the playoff spots for the NFC were occupied by NFC East teams.
In 2017 the NFC East produced two teams with winning records. The 13-3 Eagles and the 9-7 Cowboys. Yet again the NFC East produced the number 1 seed in the NFC and the Eagles would go on and win it all, capping off Super Bowl LII with a 41-33 win over the New England Patriots. While the NFC East did not repeat as the best division in the NFC they were far from the worst division in football finishing ahead of the AFC North, AFC South, and AFC West in total wins and win percentage.
During the 2018 season the NFC East yet again produced two teams with winning records. For comparison the AFC East and NFC South only produced one winning team that year. The Cowboys finished the season 10-6 and the Eagles finished 9-7 with both teams qualifying for the playoffs. Both teams were able to win during the wildcard round and subsequentially both advanced.
In 2019 and 2020 the NFC East did have down years producing only one winning team in 2019 and none in 2020. During this stretch is when the NFC Least nickname was coined for the division as they only managed a combined record of 47-80-1 over the course of these two seasons. While there is no excusing the drop in the level of play during this period the division did return to form during the 2021 season.
Over the course of the 2021 season the NFC East again produced two winning teams, the 12-5 Dallas Cowboys and the 9-8 Eagles, both who qualified for the 2021 playoffs. The NFC East as whole ended the season 32-36, ahead of the NFC North (30-37-1) and the AFC South (28-40).
So has the NFC East been the worst division in football?? Not really. During four of the last six seasons the NFC East has had multiple teams finish over .500. In three of the last six it has produced two playoff teams. The NFC East has also produced two one seeds and a Super Bowl champion in that time. Despite it’s reputation the NFC East has consistently been one of the most competitive divisions in NFL and it appears that trend will continue into the upcoming season.
2 responses to “NFC Least? Not quite”
Loved the analysis! Hopefully this season will be even greater. Thx