Sorry Fans, NFC East Is Overrated
And it's true the NFC East can rightfully be proud that it produced multiple playoff teams the past five seasons. No other division has boasted two such teams even two years running.
But there's making the playoffs and there's making a statement in postseason. Aside from the New York Giants' stunning Super Bowl triumph in 2007, only one NFC East team, the 2004 Philadelphia Eagles, competed for the past nine Lombardi trophies.
The Dallas Cowboys, Super Bowl champions in 1992, 1993 and 1995, still clung to their "America's Team" label while failing to win a playoff game from 1997-2008. The Washington Redskins, winners of three Super Bowls from 1982-91, have won just three playoff games since, only one in the past decade.
And for all the fuss over the Cowboys finally ending their postseason drought last year, few mentioned that Dallas did so by beating Philadelphia. In other words, the Cowboys, who were clobbered the next week by the Minnesota Vikings, have gone 13 years without beating a non-division rival in the playoffs.Making matters worse for the NFC East is that Dallas seems to be the division's only playoff lock in 2010. While the defending NFC East champion Cowboys have a nearly intact roster (aging left tackle Flozell Adams out, ailing rookie receiver Dez Bryant in), their three division rivals have gone through various levels of overhaul.
The Eagles have replaced Donovan McNabb, who led them to five conference title games during his decade as their quarterback, with the untested Kevin Kolb in the wake of the consecutive routs by the Cowboys that cost them the NFC East title and then ended their season.
The Giants cut ailing linebacker Antonio Pierce, their defensive leader of 2005-08, and have their third coordinator in three years after they turned from feared to fraud on defense as last season's 5-0 start became an 8-8 finish.
The Redskins have a new quarterback in McNabb, a new left tackle in fourth overall draft choice Trent Williams, and a new 3-4 defensive scheme as they try to rebound from their worst season in 15 years.
Neither the Eagles' youth movement -- they traded McNabb, linebacker Chris Gocong and cornerback Sheldon Brown and cut longtime No. 1 back Brian Westbrook, offensive tackle Shawn Andrews, defensive end Darren Howard and receiver Kevin Curtis -- nor the Giants' defensive shakeup -- replacing Bill Sheridan with former Buffalo Bills coordinator Perry Fewell , signing middle linebacker Keith Bulluck and safeties Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant and focusing their draft picks on that side of the ball -- is sure to work despite the successful track records of New York coach Tom Coughlin and Philadelphia coach Andy Reid.
New Redskins coach Mike Shanahan has an even richer pedigree, having won back-to-back Super Bowls in Denver in 1997-98. However, the coach won a lone playoff game during his final decade with the Broncos for whom he was only .500 over his final four seasons. And despite their plethora of additions and subtractions this offseason, the Redskins have basically the same starters who faltered so badly in 2009. Other than McNabb and Williams, only right tackle Jammal Brown and right guard Artis Hicks and end Adam Carriker are newcomers to the lineup. That hardly seems enough to forge a major turnaround for a team that 's 6-18 since midseason 2008.
Meanwhile, the NFC South boasts the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons, who were 9-7 during an injury-riddled 2009, and the intriguing Carolina Panthers.The NFC North has the formidable Vikings and Green Bay Packers, a wild card last year, while the NFC West has the 2008 NFC champion Arizona Cardinals and the rising San Francisco 49ers. And that's just the NFC.
Can the NFC East really claim superiority over the AFC East (New England Patriots, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins), AFC North (Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers) or AFC South (Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans)? The latter division was 12 games over .500 last year, eight games better than the vaunted NFC East.
So while only the NFC East boasts three Super Bowl coaches (Shanahan, Coughlin and Reid) and two Super Bowl quarterbacks (McNabb and Manning) and plays in four of the top media markets, the division's days of smug superiority should surely be in the past.