You don’t want to read too much into three weeks in a league with this much parity, but man does the NFC East look like a dumpster fire right now.
A word of caution before I continue: a lot can change in a 17-week season, for good and ill. Washington, who won the division last season, sat at a disappointing 3-6 before their bye week last year, and proceeded to reel off seven straight wins. The Giants started the season 6-2 before losing five of their last eight games.
A lot can change, but through three weeks, with the exception of the Cowboys, the NFC East looks like it might be the worst division in the NFL.
That fact is highlighted by a pair of 0-3 starts for Washington and New York – the first time in league history that both clubs are winless through three weeks.
They aren’t exactly looking hot.
What tipped me off, right? Was it the 38-0 drubbing that Carolina dropped on the Giants – the worst loss in Tom Coughlin’s tenure? Maybe not -- everyone in the NFL gets beat down at one point or another. It might have been the seven sacks the Giants allowed and the meager 150 yards of total offense they posted that showcased their futility more than anything else.
Seven starting quarterbacks in the league – Jake Locker, Alex Smith, Peyton Manning, E.J. Manuel, Andrew Luck, Phillip Rivers and
To make it more NFC East-focused: the division’s other three starting quarterbacks, Romo, Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III, have thrown seven combined interceptions – still fewer than Eli.
Down the road in Landover, Md., the Redskins became the second division team to fall to 0-3. This game was actually competitive throughout, as Washington avoided the three-score deficits they fell into in Week 1 and Week 2.
That’s just about the epitome of moral victories, though.
Here’s the telling stat – the one you’ve very likely heard by now. The Redskins’ defense has allowed 1,464 yards in its 0-3 start, which is a league record for worst-ever through three weeks. Matt Stafford chucked away on Washington for 385 yards and had two separate 100-yard receivers. The Lions only ran the ball for 63 yards, but it’s not like they needed to.
Griffin managed 37 yards on six carries, but it’s a far cry from the dual threat he posed last season. Griffin’s mission to become a more accomplished pocket passer was so-so against Detroit. He completed 64 percent for 326 yards, but he threw an interception and no touchdowns.
It doesn’t seem right for the Redskins, who led the league in rushing in 2012, to be airing it out, but that’s what this defense is forcing them into. In Washington’s 10 wins last year, Griffin averaged 21 attempts per game, and in the Redskins’ six losses, he averaged 30.
Through three games this year, Griffin is averaging 46 attempts per game – not a winning formula, apparently.
Sadly enough for the Redskins, the Lions’ 27 points is the fewest they’ve allowed this season by a full touchdown, which helps explain why they have the league’s second-worst scoring defense in addition to its worst yardage output.
You know who has the worst scoring defense? That’s right, the Giants, who are allowing an average of 38 points per game.
In fact, following their 31-7 demolition of St. Louis, the Cowboys moved to 15th in the league in total defense. Not only is Dallas the only NFC East team in the top half of the league, they’re the only NFC East team that isn’t in the bottom eight. Washington, Philadelphia and New York rank 32nd, 30th and 24th, respectively, in yards allowed.
Points allowed isn’t any better. In that category, New York brings up the rear at No. 32, with Washington at No. 31 and Philly at No. 26. Dallas sits at a solid 10th, allowing 18.3 points per contest.
I’m not going to touch on the Eagles too much, as I covered their loss to Kansas City on Friday. But it’s worth pointing out that Philadelphia is the only other team in the division with a win, and it came against Washington. The Cowboys’ win against the Rams is the only non-division win so far for the East, giving the division a sterling 1-6 start.
It’s undoubtedly early, and there’s still time for plenty of twists and turns. But the stats are telling. Only three of 115 0-3 teams have rebounded to make the playoffs since the NFL adopted its modern postseason format.
We may not yet know how good the Cowboys are. But at this point, they look like the best team in the NFC East, almost by default.