The NFC East is the worst at football. The teams are the four lost works of John Kennedy Toole, each furthering his neo-picaresque cred to the point of crippling, maddening laughter. Whatever millions of subjective standards exist for "real good at football," not one would apply to any team in this presumptive football division. In that sense, and most any other, the NFC East is, well, amazing. Just compare it to the rest of the league.
It's always the "real good at football" football teams that everyone wants to dap, which, fine for you. Sure, the good teams are very good and everyone is saying very nice things about them for being so good. Examples: The Denver Broncos have become a living techno-virus capable of processing football games into streams of binary code that Peyton Manning converts into hella touchdowns, all while he evinces the personality of a persnickety physics professor. The Seattle Seahawks are a borderline Pro Bowl team that is inexplicably allowed to practice together. The Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints both seem like nice teams you could take home to the parents.
Whatever. The NFL's regular season is mostly about narrowing down the attendees to a months-long chaos theory lecture anyway. Being a number one seed guarantees a seat up front, but nothing else. More to the point: Of the last three Super Bowl champions, two entered the playoffs as a four seed and the other was a six seed. Diversion is necessary to enjoying the utter monotony of a process that typically does nothing more than create false expectations out of random results. In the face of this grinding cycle, the NFC East dutifully serves as football's version of an America's Funniest Home Videos season curated by Clive Barker. There are still plenty of Dad Takes Toddler-Assisted Football To The Groin clips, but the tape loops for the entire episode and each frame closes in that much more on the father's face. He seems to be enjoying the pain, perhaps even aroused by it. This is NFC East football.
The team always at the division's forefront is the Dallas Cowboys, because Oh My God have you been paying attention to the Cowboys? Wide receiver Dez Bryant became a fabricated national controversy for demonstratively informing quarterback Tony Romo that "We the best in the NFL." Said Romo is on the shortest short list of people most openly psychoanalyzed by non-psychoanalysts. The team is 5-5 and coming off consecutive 8-8 seasons mostly because owner Jerry Jones is the ultimate statement on the self-defeating nature of greed. Inevitably, you're gonna find something you can't buy outright -- in his case, a Super Bowl -- and that knowledge will consume you whole.
Thanks to Jones' immediately insatiable greed, the Cowboys are a shrinking collection of mint condition muscle cars left to rust in an endless junkyard carpeted with shreds of hundred dollar bills. The ultimate result being a team that is projected to be $31 million over the salary cap next year. No human with an appreciation for narrative resolution is not interested in what Jones will do if the team goes 8-8 for a third straight year -- it might be the most fascinating open possibility in sports. My money is on him starting the Jerry Jones Real Football Association and crowning himself The Eternal Money Champion Of Forever Who Doesn't Care If Brenda Is Sorry About Not Going To Prom With Him Now. It should be noted that Jones may not even be the most NFL Owner of the division's NFL Owners.
That distinction could be given to Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, our era's definitive take on the openly sociopathic billionaire who looks out from the floor-to-ceiling windows of his beachfront mansion, admires a breathtaking view of the Pacific at its most sapphire blue and takes it all as proof that life is more-or-less all right for everyone. As you may know, his team's name is a slur and he thus feels compelled to write meandering, faux-reasonable open letters that amount to a White Man telling the world what is offensive -- the most familiar story in American history, sure, but never not good for sociological gallows humor.
The Redskins are also 3-7 and, maybe, the worst team in the worst-best division. Their quarterback is Robert Griffin III, who will probably end up reminding me of Jean-Michel Basquiat -- a transcendent talent driven insane by a broken society. It can be painful to consider how much of Griffin's life is devoted to answering weasel-word questions that amount to "Hey, don't you think that nice backup of yours deserves a chance? Dontcha?" The NFC East is not recommended for those who couldn't make it through 12 Years A Slave.
The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles are the differing counterpoints that make this garbage fire of skinned pigs sing. Philly, openly and readily acknowledged as home to a thankfully contained cluster of America's worst sports fans, is somehow home to the most outlandishly solipsistic team in all of sports. Coach Chip Kelly clearly and genuinely believes that his football philosophy is the only true reality, and it shows. The Eagles' offense is what you'd expect from Steve Spurrier calling a Madden game. The Eagles' defense is also what you'd expect from Steve Spurrier calling a Madden game. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't and the team is pretty all right with that, since it makes them the best team in the division at 6-5. Occasional success feels like the right standard for outright success in the NFC East.
Which brings us to the Giants, Lord, the Giants. A team that started 0-6 is now 4-6; a fact overshadowed by quarterback Eli Manning's incredible Eli Face performances and coach Tom Coughlin generally appearing ready to put names on the street. Given this, it's impossible to overemphasize the fact that the NFC East champion may end up being a team that started 0-6 and has yet to play particularly well 10 games into a 16-game season. That is, of course, not an indicator of good football, but it is an indicator of awfully compelling football that just so happens to be awful.
How is this sequence of random occurrences that are playing out as a scattershot philosophical polemic not essential viewing? It's akin to witnessing a rainforest emerge overnight from a single sidewalk crack. And then watching that rainforest get razed so it can be converted to the world's biggest strip mall. Depending on your personal state of mind, the NFC East will make you laugh or cry or murder, but, above all, it will make you feel. Yeah, none of it makes any sense, but nothing makes any sense.
Such feet. So bad. Much football to groin. Wow.