Bad divisions pop up from time to time. It’s part of the wonderful parity that is innate to today’s brand of football, but parity can have a dark side. Sometimes it’s relatively harmless and somewhat expected, like with last year’s NFC South and Carolina’s division-winning (and playoff game-winning) 7-8-1 team. Did that outcome really shock anyone? And sometimes it’s like this year’s AFC South, where the Colts and Texans have somehow both battled back to respectable 6-5 records and you might as well flip a quarter at this point if you want to know who comes out on top there. LOL, football!
And then you have cases like this year’s NFC East, which makes you want to bang your head against a brick wall, all the while yelling to no one in particular, “What the hell’s the matter with you guys?!?” The standings, as they are now, feel like backwards logic. So much talent spread throughout these four teams, and we’re now entering Week 13 and no one has a winning record.
But maybe it’s not all bad! Maybe there’s hope lurking somewhere beneath these four lots of football sadness. And such as the current NFL rules dictate, someone must win the division and go to the playoffs. So, let’s take a closer look at where each team stands, ranked by inverse order of their Football Outsiders’ playoff odds:
Dallas (2.2 percent)
Toughest remaining opponent: Week 14 at Green Bay
With Tony Romo now out again — and this time for the season — the Cowboys are toast and should be trying to assess what it is they have for next season. Romo will be back, as will Dez Bryant, of course. Jason Witten has been effective, but is now 33, has accumulated a lot of on-field mileage, and has started to enter that phase of a tight end’s career where he begins to fade away from an offense. (Did you know Antonio Gates, at 35, is still playing in San Diego? Strange but true!) Darren McFadden has kept the running game held together somehow, but he’s not a long-term solution. And honestly, the sooner this season ends and they can discard Greg Hardy into the nearest trash heap, the better it will be for that team. If Jerry Jones was chugging down more Johnnie Walker Blue this season than ever before, who would blame him?