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NFC East update: Eagles widen gap as rest of division gets embarrassed

It was a rough week for the Cowboys. Commanders, and Giants.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of weeks ago, the NFC East had a combined 7-1 record and was starting to look like the class of the conference. But in the three weeks since, and especially after Week 5, the Philadelphia Eagles are now the only team still feeling good about themselves.

The Cowboys, Commanders, and Giants have collectively gone 1-8 over the last three weeks, with Dallas’ victory over New England as the only win. It’s allowed the undefeated Eagles to take a firm two-game lead in the division and, barring some major injury, set a seemingly uncatchable pace toward back-to-back division titles. If it happens, it will be the first time the NFC East has had a repeat champion since the Eagles last did it from 2001-2004.

Here are the NFC East standings after Week 5:

Is it too early to crown Philly? On paper, sure. But the last three weeks, and especially this past one, made it clear that they’re on another level from their rivals. Even if the Cowboys make the playoffs, a lot needs to change between now and January for there to be much optimism about their postseason viability.

For Dallas, Sunday night’s beatdown from the 49ers was about as ugly as it gets. It was one thing to flop in Arizona, still reeling from the Trevon Diggs injury, missing three offensive line starters, and perhaps not taking the Cardinals as seriously as they should. But to no-show a game that’s been circled on the calendar since May, against the team who’s knocked you out of the playoffs two years in a row, and at relatively full strength? The Cowboys showed how much they still need to do to even be on the same level of the NFC elite.

Washington followed up a moral victory, pushing the hosting Eagles to overtime in Week 4, with about as demoralizing a loss as you could have in 2023. They allowed the previously winless Chicago Bears to roll them 40-20, undoing any feelgood from the first four weeks and resurrecting concerns about Ron Rivera as head coach. Just as Chicago was seeming to take the “worst franchise in the NFL” trophy away from Washington, the Commanders offered up a classic “hold my beer” moment.

The Giants’ season has been so bad so far that only losing 31-16 to Miami felt like progress. Now with a 1-4 record, New York’s season is essentially over barring a miracle turnaround. They likely won’t go into tank mode, having already financially committed to Daniel Jones for a while as the franchise QB, but it’s going to be a long season for them.

Philly stayed undefeated with a solid road win over the feisty Los Angeles Rams. While they haven’t been blowing people out of the building this year, the Eagles keep doing enough to win. They’re clearly still working out some things defensively, but the team plays exceptional complementary football. They and San Francisco are their own tier in the NFC.

Thankfully, there’s still plenty of time for surprises to happen in the Cowboys’ favor. But with close to a third of the season under our belts, the NFC East has a clear trajectory that doesn’t bode well for Dallas. They can certainly still catch the Eagles, but it will take much more than they’ve shown so far in 2023 to get there.

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