BY JERRY TAPP
With three weeks remaining in the 2019 NFL season, one thing is for certain: Whichever team wins the NFC East will have a less-than-stellar regular season record.
The Dallas Cowboys are sitting atop the NFC East with a losing record at 6-7. The Eagles are a game back with a 5-8 mark.
Even if the Cowboys win out in their three remaining contests, they would win the division with a 9-7 record, just a game above .500.
But there’s an even more interesting scenario that could play out that would certainly be an embarrassment to the league: The NFC East champion could end the season with a 6-10 record.
Think about that: An NFC East champion with a 6-10 record could host a first-round playoff game against a Wild Card team that won 10 or more games in the regular season. Crazy, huh?
Here’s how that could happen:
* Dallas, 6-7, could lose their three remaining games against the Rams, Eagles and Redskins and finish 6-10. Philadelphia, 5-8, could lose to the Redskins, beat the Cowboys, lose to the Giants and finish 6-10.* Washington, now 3-10, is still, believe it or not, in the race to win the division. The Redskins could defeat the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys in their last three games and finish 6-10.
There it is, a three-way tie for the NFC East with Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington all ending the season with a record of 6-10.
Enough of the “could happens.” Since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, there have been 27 division champions that ended the regular season with a winning percentage under .600 (that usually meant winning the division with less than 10 wins — which will happen in the NFC East this season). In fact, there have been five teams since 1970 (not counting the 1982 strike season) that won their division with a .500 or below winning percentage. The five:
1985: Cleveland 8-8 .500.
2008: San Diego, 8-8 .500.
2010: Seattle, 7-9 .438.
2011: Denver, 8-8, .500.
2014: Carolina, 7-8-1, .469
As you can see, the Cowboys will have to win three straight to avoid this list, and if we end the year with a three-way tie with the Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins at 6-10, it will set a new mark for futility for division champions.
One interesting stat about the five teams listed above that won their division: Each of the five teams except the ’85 Browns won at least one playoff game that season.