The 2019 NFC East looks quite bad. With three weeks to go in the season, the Division is lead by Dallas at 6-7 and includes an inconsistent Philadelphia team at 5-7 in second place.
A true mark of how poor the division is that, at 3-10, the Washington team can still win the division and make the playoffs.
Is it the worst NFL division ever?
That is tough to say, as the current alignment of 8 divisions of 4 teams each has only been around since 2002, somewhat limiting us to that stretch of time for comparison.
This is also the time period in which a team with a losing record has won the division, a readily understood mark of poor performance.
Twice that has happened: in 2010, Seattle won the NFC West with a 7-9 record, and in 2014, Carolina won the NFC South with a 7-8-1 mark.
That is an easy mark for Division weakness, but another measure is wins outside the division.
Again, the balanced schedules make this easy since 2002. Every team plays 6 games in division, 10 games outside the division. So we can throw out the wins earned in the division, and ask which division was truly the worst outside their own circle. See the table.
|Fewest Wins Outside Division by NFL Division (Since 2002)|
|Division||Total Outside Wins||Aggregate Point Differential||Division Winner|
|2019 NFC East||10*||-176*||Dallas 6-7*|
|2014 NFC South||10||-227†||Carolina 7-8-1|
|2008 AFC West||11||-260||San Diego 8-8|
|2015 AFC South||12||-240||Houston 9-7|
|2009 NFC West||12||-272||Arizona 10-6|
|2010 NFC West||13||-322†||Seattle 7-9|
|2004 NFC West||13||-306†||Seattle 9-7|
|2015 NFC East||14||-165||Washington 9-7|
|* – still active
† – all four teams with negative point differential
As expected, the 2019 NFC East and 2014 NFC South are right there, but surprisingly the 2010 NFC West is not even in the worst 5 by measure of wins outside division. Yes it is the only other time that a division winner was sub .500, but outside the division they made their case better than 5 other times.
At least in terms of wins. By point differential, that 2010 NFC West division was putrid, and makes the 2019 NFC East look much better.
Now, the 2019 regular season is not over, but time is running out on the NFC East quickly.
After tonight’s Philly-New York match-up, there are only two games remaining outside the division. They both take play next weekend in week #15, and the NFC East may be underdogs in both of them. Dallas is home against a Los Angeles Rams team and New York hosts a surprisingly resilient Miami team that has already beaten Philadelphia.
There could easily be a third losing team winning a division, and by outside-division wins, the NFC East is likely going to go down as one of the poorest showings in the last 18 years.
Photo by AzKodiak