What Do The Week 1 Results Mean For The NFC East?
The rules of smart football analysis forbid extrapolating Week 1 results into sure-fire conclusions. An NFL team’s season is a living, breathing creature that evolves its way through 17 weeks of injuries, bad play and questionable coaching. It’s a simmering crockpot of unknown variables and massive uncertainty.
No division validates this notion like the NFC East.
What did we learn from the Week 1 divisional matchups? That the Giants are prone to turning the ball over? That the Eagles’ high-octane offense under Chip Kelly is more polished than we thought? That the Cowboys still have red zone woes, or that the Redskins’ hero, Robert Griffin III, will have to rely on his arm in 2013, rather than his legs?
No. New York committing six turnovers, Philly racking up 53 plays in one half, Dallas serving up a pick and two field goals in five red-zone situations, Washington throwing 49 times for 308 yards – these are stats – numbers that don’t lie but can sure as hell be manipulated. Pick an NFC East team, and you can easily find figures from Week 1 to support that squad as the divisional favorite.
We confirmed that the NFC East is and will remain up for grabs. We verified the belief that there’s room for only one playoff team. We learned, indisputably, that this division is still overwhelmingly mediocre and blessed with the parity that makes “any given Sunday” a truly applicable expression.
The NFC East doesn’t have much to make other teams sweat, or to make them worry about losing a playoff spot. But that’s not to say the quartet’s Week 1 results don’t’ matter. They do – just not to anyone outside the division.
Assuming mediocrity prevails, as it always seems to with this group, the divisional race could easily hinge upon who claims the hottest start. In years past it’s been about the strong finish, but 2013 bodes different. New York and Washington, the Week 1 losers, have Denver and Green Bay, respectively, waiting in Week 2. Dallas and Philadelphia are looking at softer opponents in Kansas City and San Diego. We don’t need Steve Young or Herm Edwards to provide a forecast; the Cowboys and Eagles have a considerable advantage at this point.
Though each draws Peyton Manning and the Broncos early, Dallas and Philly are blessed equally with winnable games through the first third of the season. They’re poised to strike. In this division, it doesn’t take much.
While it’s a sin, and a reach, to correlate Week 1 results to playoff odds, there’s little doubt that the opening results matter within the division. Should the division find itself with two undefeated teams and two winless teams after Week 2 – and this is fairly likely – then we can start making some big-picture inferences about who’ll survive the bastion of mediocrity that is the NFC East.
Until then, a case can be made for anybody, and there’ll be ample stats to support it.