Rotten NFC East the unimpressive Eagles’ ultimate safety valve in 2020

Philadelphia Eagles free safety Rodney McLeod (23) celebrates with his teammates after intercepting the football against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The NFC East stinks, there’s no other way to describe it. 

The Philadelphia Eagles took the divisional lead over the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and the Washington Football Team on Sunday night by squeaking out a fourth-quarter comeback over a decimated, depleted San Francisco 49ers team that finished the game with its third-string quarterback, CJ Beathard, chucking up a fruitless Hail Mary. 

It was an ugly, unimpressive win, but it was good enough to take the top spot in the division after the Cowboys were ransacked by the Cleveland Browns, the Giants came up empty against the Los Angeles Rams, and Washington rolled over against the Baltimore Ravens. 

Talk about a “meh” first victory. Yet here the Eagles are at 1-2-1 in the driver’s seat within one of the worst divisions we’ve ever seen. 

That’s not hyperbole, either. 

Teams in the NFC East are a combined 3-12-1. The Eagles’ tie in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals prevented the division from having the worst start in the NFL since 1970 through four games, according to ESPN. The 1984 AFC Central went a combined 3-13 through their first four games of that year. 

Those three wins are hardly anything to write home about, either. Washington shocked the Eagles in Week 1 while the Cowboys took advantage of a vintage Atlanta Falcons choke job to pick up their only win of the season. 

Regardless, that win against the 49ers is indescribably important for the Eagles to have kept their divisional-title hopes alive. 

Their schedule doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Pittsburgh in the cards next week to meet the Steelers before hosting Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in Week 6. 

That provides the legitimate reality of a 1-4-1 start to the season, which considering just how bad this division is, would still see the Eagles in striking distance for the No. 1 spot in the NFC East. They play the Giants in two of their ensuing three games following that tough stretch, which sandwiches a Week 8 matchup with the Cowboys. 

It’s a temporary reprieve, though, as the Eagles then meet the Browns, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, and New Orleans Saints. 

Considering how they’ve started this season, it seems less than likely that this is a team that will flirt with .500 too often. Yet, they have as good a chance as anyone to come away with another divisional crown — which shows just how putrid the NFC East really is. 

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