clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The NFC East is garbage and we can't stop watching it

The NFC East is the NFL's worst division, and yet its teams play on Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football seemingly every week. That's our fault.

The NFC East is trash.

Seven of the NFL's eight divisions have at least two teams at .500 or better. Then, there is the NFC East, where the Eagles, the Giants and Washington are tied for first at 5-7. The division's overall record is a dismal 19-29, but if we take out the nine games in between NFC East teams thus far, it falls to 10-20, a .333 winning percentage.

Monday night was a prime example of the NFC East's trashitude. The NFL gave its premier slot, Monday Night Football, to a matchup between the 3-8 Cowboys and 5-6 Washington. The two teams failed to score a touchdown for the first 58 minutes of play. There were finally scores in the last two minutes, thanks to one of the most boneheaded plays an NFL player made all season. In the end, fans got exciting football, albeit exciting football caused by tremendous ineptitude. But to reach that exciting bad football, they had to sit through three hours of slogging, gross, plain-old-regular bad football.

And yet, the NFL keeps saving these primetime slots for NFC East games. This was the first of three consecutive weeks where an NFC East team will appear for Sunday or Monday evening football. Next week, the 5-7 Giants play the 5-7 Dolphins on Monday, and two weeks from now, the bad Eagles will play the good Cardinals on Sunday night.

Altogether, NFC East teams are featured in six of the 16 Sunday Night Football games NBC will show this year, and four of the 17 Monday Night Football games ESPN will show. NFC East teams also featured in two of the three coveted Thanksgiving games (although to be fair, it's a Cowboys tradition to play on Thanksgiving) and will be featured in both games played on Saturdays after the end of the college football regular season.

A total of 52 of the 256 games played this NFL season will feature at least one NFC East team, or 20.3 percent. But of the 39 games played on Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football and special uncontested national slots like Saturday games, Thanksgiving and the season-opening Thursday night game, NFC East teams play in 13 of those games. A third of the time the NFL and its broadcasters want us to give our undisputed attention to a big game, a team from the NFL's worst division is playing.

Twelve times this year and every year, NFC East teams play each other. This year, four of those games made it to Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football. A third of the time teams in the NFL's worst division play each other, it was deemed worthy of a prime TV slot.

Those prime TV slots are normally saved for intriguing matchups between teams that rarely play each other. Only eight times this year is an intra-divisional matchup featured on Sunday or Monday night. And half of those are NFC East games.

You might think this is just bad preseason scheduling. After all, last year the Cowboys were 12-4, and this year Tony Romo got hurt. But it's not. In fact, the NFL just bumped a Bengals-49ers game out of the Week 15 Sunday night slot in favor of Eagles-Cardinals, knowing full well the Eagles are 5-7.

This is not a mistake. This is not an example of a disconnect between the NFL and its fans. We are given NFC East games in heaping portions because we watch them. America has an apparently unquenchable thirst for garbage football if it contains NFC East teams, and the NFL's broadcasters are just complying with our insatiable desire.

According to Sports Media Watch's figures which run through Week 12, the top three most-watched games of the season are NFC East games. The Panthers-Cowboys game on Thanksgiving is No. 1, with 32.5 million viewers. Next was Seahawks-Cowboys Week 8, with 29.4 million viewers. And then Patriots-Giants Week 10, with 28.3 million viewers. All in all, six of the 10 most watched games this season have featured NFC East teams.

If we look at TV ratings instead of total viewers to account for the differences between various TV slots, NFC East games still account for six of the top 10 results.

As the NFC East gets worse and worse, we keep watching it, and the NFL and its broadcasters respond by giving us more and more NFC East games in important slots. It is not their fault; it is our fault.

We can put a stop to this. Well, you can. My job is watching football and writing about it, so I have to sit there and watch garbage football regardless. But you can avoid it. You can do some other fun thing with your life when the NFL tells you that you should be watching sub-par NFC East teams.

Please stop watching NFC East teams. I'm begging you. We must convince the NFL that we don't actually like it.

* * *

SB Nation presents: The most impressive teams of Week 13