NFC East is no longer the “NFC Least” in 2021 by the numbers
The 2020 NFL season featured the NFC East being relabeled the "NFC Least" being the worst division with a combined record of 23-40-1 which is the worst combined division record in NFL history since the 2014 NFC South (23-41) and the 2008 NFC West (22-42). Heading into the 2021 NFL season, the NFC East did not have a strong favorite to win the division thanks to so many questions about every team.
But after Week Four, the NFC East proved they are no longer the worst division in the NFL as each of the four teams showed they are more competitive than some experts previously anticipated:
*NFC East is now combined 7-9 record which is fifth best division record in the league ahead of the NFC North (6-10), AFC East (6-10), and AFC South (4-12)
*Eagles and Cowboys are both top ten in the NFL in Total Yards while the Washington Football Team is 11th in the league in Points Per Game scoring
*Cowboys Defense has forced second most Turnovers in the NFL while the Eagles have a top ten Passing Defense in the league and Giants Defense is 15th in the league in Total Yards Allowed
So why is the NFC East better this year than the 2020 NFL season? Well two teams had coaching changes this offseason:
-The Dallas Cowboys hiring of Dan Quinn to be Defensive Coordinator has paid off so far; last year their defense was 28th in the NFL in Scoring Defense (29.6 PPG Allowed) but this season the Scoring Defense has improved to 16th (24.3 PPG Allowed)
-The Philadelphia Eagles changing of Head Coach/Offensive Coaching Staff has seen them go from 26th in the league in Scoring Offense (20.9 PPG) and 24th in Total Yards to now 17th in Scoring Offense (23.5 PPG) and Eight Most Total Yards
Now the anomaly of the NFC East is the Washington Football Team whose Head Coach Ron Rivera has a defensive background with tons of talent in their front seven but the defense is 30th in the league in Scoring Defense (30.5 PPG Allowed) but their offense made a jump from 20.9 PPG last year to 25.3 PPG this season. It's hard to gauge this year's Washington squad when they lose a close game to the Chargers, barely beat the Giants, then lose by 22 points to the Bills and now only defeat the Falcons by four points.
The New York Giants lost their games in Weeks Two and Three in the final minutes of the Fourth Quarter then this past weekend they played their best game of the season defeating the Saints in Overtime at New Orleans. In the Giants three losses, the total margin of loss is 18 points which says they are a much more competitive team than some people seeming want to admit.
The final point of reference with the improved NFC East is the Quarterbacks:
*Without Dak Prescott last season, the Cowboys Quarterbacks combined for 4-7 record with 15 Touchdowns and Nine interceptions. This season, Prescott is third in the NFL in Touchdown Passes (10) and has the fourth best Passer Rating (116.9)
*Last season, Carson Wentz was statistically the worst QB in the NFL with a league high 15 Interceptions and averaged an underwhelming 218.3 Passing Yards per game. This year, Jalen Hurts is ninth in the NFL in Passing Yards Per Game (291.8) and second in the league behind Tom Brady in Total Offensive Yards (1,325)
*The Washington Football Team started four different Quarterbacks last season who combined for 16 Touchdowns and 16 Interceptions with the cast of Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Alex Smith, and Taylor Heinicke. This year, WFT only returns Heinicke who was supposed to be the backup behind Ryan Fitzpatrick; Now Taylor Heinicke has a 2-1 record as the starting QB and he has Eight Touchdowns plus only Three Interceptions
*For better or worse, the New York Giants are "all-in" with their starting Quarterback Daniel Jones who had the most fumbles in the NFL (19) his rookie season and a total of 22 Interceptions his first two years with the G-Men. But this year Jones has been much more efficient with a career high 66.7 Completion Percentage with only one interception thrown through the first four games of the 2021 season.
So congratulations NFC East teams and fans, your division is no longer the standing joke of the NFL anymore. The "NFC Least" was last season, the 2021 NFL Season is the year of growth and progress for the the Cowboys, Eagles, WFT, and Giants.