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Why 10 Wins Will Likely Be Enough To Win The NFC East In 2016

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With one exception, 10 wins have been the ceiling for NFC East teams this decade. Will it be enough again this year?

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In the six seasons of NFL play this decade, the 2014 Cowboys are the only team to have had more than 10 regular season wins in the NFC East. There have been four 10-game winners in those six seasons: The Eagles and Giants in 2010, the Redskins in 2012, and the Eagles in 2013.

With that kind of track record, 2016 could easily be another season in which nine or 10 wins could be enough to win the NFC East.

Last year, the NFC East teams had a disturbingly unimpressive record outside the division, with no team managing a winning record outside the division. The Redskins eked out a 5-5 record outside the NFC East, but all their wins came against teams with non-winning records. The Eagles went 4-6 outside the division, but at least scored impressive wins @ the 10-6 Jets and @ the 12-4 Patriots. The Giants also went 4-6 outside the NFC East, while the Cowboys won only one of their non-divisional contests (@ Dolphins).

In 2016, the NFC East is scheduled to meet the NFC North and the AFC North, and it's hard to imagine that any team will be able to be better than 6-4 at best outside of the division, and I also don't see any NFC East team finishing better than 4-2 in the division - unless a healthy Cowboys offense returns to its 2014 form, but that's in no way a given.

Add that all up, and it's not much of a reach to expect the NFC East winner to be a nine- or 10-win team.

But while a nine- or 10-win season almost certainly rules out a bye week for the NFC East, it does not necessarily rule out post-season success. This decade, the 2010 Packers won the Super Bowl with a 10-6 regular season record, the 2011 Giants did it coming off a 9-7 regular season record, and the 2012 Ravens got their ring off a 10-6 record. That's three of the last six Super Bowl winners that had 10 wins or less during the regular season.

So if you're wondering where the upside is in all of this, here it is: There's no reason whatsoever that the Cowboys couldn't be the team to win the NFC East, even if they end up doing it with a 10-6 of 9-7 record.