It was arguably the NFL’s biggest punchline during the 2020 season.
How could teams in the NFC East start 1-4 or 0-5, and still have a realistic chance to win the division and make the postseason?
While other teams in the NFC put forth respectable seasons with .500 records or better, the NFC East champion would clinch a playoff berth with a win-loss tally that is usually reserved for teams picking in the first half of the NFL Draft.
When all was said and done, the Washington Football Team captured the NFC East with a record of 7-9, and almost had to apologize to the general public for making the playoffs.
However, with a new season on the horizon, there’s a golden opportunity for Washington, New York, Dallas, and Philadelphia to change the narrative.
While there’s no guarantee that a similar calamity couldn’t happen again, it would appear extremely unlikely.
We’ll take a look at each team individually, and why they should be taken seriously as legitimate opponents on the schedule.
Washington Football Team
We’ll see how their talent translates to wins this year, but there’s no doubt that the Football Team has blue-chip players in a few areas of their team.
Washington was sixth in the NFL last season in total sacks, and that was with Young still maneuvering his way through his rookie season.
The team’s largest issue last season was a revolving door at quarterback, but the team appears to have shored up that hole by signing veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Don't worry @deuce2_, we'll get to see the real TB12 on Nov. 14 😂
— Washington Football Team (@WashingtonNFL) August 27, 2021
New York Giants
Head coach Joe Judge did an impressive job molding the New York Giants into a competitive, hard-nosed type of team in his first year at the helm.
They hung in many games that the outside public did not give them a chance in, and it’s that type of experience that lays the foundation to build upon.
The defense doesn’t have many big names, but they’re well coached and allowed New York to be frisky.
They also drafted wide receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round, so quarterback Daniel Jones should have a bunch of toys to play with this year.
Additionally, star running back Saquon Barkley returns from an ACL injury, and appears like he should be ready for Week 1.
That’s a wrap in New England 💪
— GiantsTV (@GiantsTV) August 26, 2021
In a perfect world for defenders of the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys were the team that should’ve been representative of a decent NFL team in 2020.
Their offense had a boatload of talent, but their campaign was derailed by the unfortunate ankle injury suffered by quarterback Dak Prescott.
Cowboys fans are hoping that the potential of this team was just deferred out one year, and that Prescott can remain healthy for a full 17-game season.
Assuming health, there’s no reason to doubt Dallas’ ability to put up points against almost any opponent.
Additionally, they took significant steps to upgrade a porous defense.
They used a top-10 draft pick on LB Micah Parsons, and hired former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn to run their defense.
The Philadelphia Eagles are an X-factor in this division.
While the other three teams have a few aspects of their roster or coaching staff that can be counted on, Philadelphia has a ton of question marks.
New head coach Nick Sirianni will look to put his imprint on a franchise that has surprisingly lost its way in the years following their Super Bowl victory.
One of his biggest goals this year will be to find out whether Jalen Hurts can be their long-term answer at quarterback.
There’s a world where Hurts takes the job and runs away with it, pun intended, due to his notable mobility.
Philadelphia has also invested significant draft capital in upgrading their receiving weapons, using first-round picks on Jalen Reagor and Devonta Smith in back-to-back years.
The consistency might not be there for Philadelphia this year, but they have the ability to give teams trouble on a given week.