The Beasts Of The NFC East: Why My Division Is Still Better Than Your Division

2010 was a little bit of a down year for the NFC East. Two teams with a losing record, only one team in the playoffs and that team was one and done. Not good. But don't be fooled by what happened last year. The NFC East is still the best division in football. Everybody knows it, not everybody likes to admit it. Heck, this year we even have our very own Dream Team in the division.

At the start of every season some talking head will rear his or her head somewhere and try to sell you on why this or that division may is the best division in the NFL. Don't buy what they're peddling. 19 Super Bowl appearances between the four NFC East teams and 11 Lombardi trophies speak a pretty clear language.

What, you think the Super Bowl argument is getting bit old, and you need some more recent ammunition for the water cooler talk on Mondays? No problem, let's look at the NFC East over the last six years then: Since 2005, the NFC East has scored more points than any other division in the NFL. The East has had more playoff teams, more yards on offense, more sacks and more Pro Bowlers than any other division. And the East has had only five teams with a losing record in the last six years. No other division can match any of that. Really, it's not even debatable.

Toughest? Most talented? Most successful? Find out after the break just how good the NFC East still is.

Overall performance by division 2005 - 2010

Over the last six years, the Cowboys, Eagles, Giants and Redskins have outscored their opponents by a combined 720 points. That's almost twice as much as the next best division in the NFL. The Colts-led AFC South put together a 388 points differential to claim a very distant second place. 

The NFC East has sent 13 teams to the playoffs since 2006. Again, best in the league, and it's not even close. The next best divisions sent 10. 2010 was the first time in the last six years that the East did not send at least two teams (three NFC East teams qualified in 2006 and 2007).

You'll find the NFC West at the other end of that scale. It appears that in the NFC West, the team that sucks the least is automatically awarded a playoff spot. In fact, only once in the last five years did the NFC West division winner win more than ten games. The NFC West has sent exactly one team per year to the playoffs for the last five years (Seahawks 05-07 and 10, Cardinals 08-09, nothing for the 49ers and Rams), and not once has a team from the division qualified for a wild card. Last season the NFC West even one-upped their previous record of atrociousness by not having a single team in the division finish with a winning record. 

The NFC East racked up a total of 212 wins over the last six years, only two wins less than the league leading AFC South.

But what is perhaps the most remarkable achievement of the NFC East is the fact that in six years only five teams have had a losing record in the division: the '06, '09 & '10 Redskins, the '05 Eagles and the '10 Cowboys. The NFC West almost matched that six-year total last year when all four of its teams turned in a losing record.

Performance by division
2005 - 2010
NFC AFC
East North South West East North South West
Points Differential +720 -37 +34 -1,538 316 384 388 -267
Playoff Teams 13 8 9 6 9 10 10 7
Total Wins 212 184 198 154 197 196 214 180
No. of teams with losing record 5 12 8 16 12 10 7 10

As I look at the table above, I can't help but wonder what's going on in the West divisions. Sometimes I wish the NFL were organized a little bit more like the European soccer leagues, where bad teams get relegated to a lower division. With the UFL as good as dead, perhaps the league could just move both West divisions out of the NFL and take up the UFL's place. Make it a scouting league. Or a spring league. Or something.

NFC East: Home to the most prolific offenses and toughest defenses

Over the last six years, the NFC East has racked up the most total yards on offense, has more 1000+ receivers than any other division, has scored more points and has recorded more sacks than any other division. It is only fitting that the East has a big lead in total Pro Bowl nominations over the last six years as well.

Performance by division
2005 - 2010
NFC
AFC
East North South West
East North South West
Total Yards on offense (in thousands) 134 123 127 119
123 121 130 127
1000+ yards receivers
20
13 16
15
13 17
14
16
Points scored
8,856 8,239 8,098
7,603
8,175 7,876
8,691
8,252
Sacks recorded
916 871 768 861
865 823 785 826
Pro Bowl nominations
111 83 68 59
72 77 80 90

 

Size does matter after all

Almost any way you look at it, the East is the best division in football. Always has been, always will be. 

"Always will be" because underlying the NFL is a business model that thrives on and rewards scale. Bigger is better in the NFL, and a large part of the success of the NFC East can be explained in simple dollars and cents. The NFC East teams are all within the top seven of the most valuable NFL franchises. And the attendance at their games ensures that the four teams will have a revenue stream to match their valuations for years to come.

2010 NFL most valuable franchises 2010 NFL total regular season attendance
Rank Team Value, $ BLN Rank Team Attendance
1. Cowboys 1.80 1. Cowboys 1,277,973
2. Redskins 1.55 2. Redskins 1,193,756
3. Patriots 1.37 3. Giants 1,191,095
4. Giants 1.18 4. Jets 1,163,375
5. Texans 1.17 5. Eagles 1,125,926
6. Jets 1.14 ... ... ...
7. Eagles 1.12 ... ... ...

If there is one area the East has come up short recently, it's Super Bowls. The East took two Super Bowls in the 70's, three in the 80's, five in the 90's but only one in the 00's. Let's hope that this decade the Cowboys will help uphold and further build the proud tradition of winning Super Bowls in the NFC East. Well, most of the East anyway.

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