Today’s Sportstat: December 14, 2019
NFC East champion will win their division with a less-than-champion-like record
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… they 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 with the Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins at 6-10, it will set a new mark for futility for division champions.
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