Dalvin Tomlinson of the New York Giants wraps up Carson...

Dalvin Tomlinson of the New York Giants wraps up Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 15, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Regardless of what happened on Monday night, the team in first place in the NFC East was going to have four wins after 12 weeks of action.

As it turned out, the Eagles lost to the Seahawks, 23-17, to drop to 3-7-1. That meant the Giants and Washington remained tied for first at 4-7, with the Giants holding a tiebreaker edge after sweeping their co-leader.

That may seem historically bad, and it probably is, but you don’t have to go back too far to find the last time a team with just four wins through the first 12 weeks was in first place. In fact, two of the teams that are in the current race for the NFC East title are led by men who were in the midst of things then, too.

It was 2014 in the NFC South. And the NFC South standings then are nearly identical to the NFC East standings now.

Through Week 12 six years ago, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Atlanta and New Orleans were tied for the division lead with a 4-7 record, Carolina was next at 3-7-1 and Tampa Bay was in last place at 2-9 (the Cowboys are a bit better at 3-8).

Ultimately the Panthers won that division with a 7-8-1 record. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman was the GM for that team. Washington head coach Ron Rivera was the head coach for that team. So both can draw inspiration from the firsthand experience and relay it to their current organizations. Their Panthers even won a wild-card game at home before losing in the divisional round.

(The following year, they went 15-1 and all the way to the Super Bowl, if you are looking for good news for 2021.)

Even though the Eagles lost Monday night, they can take a positive away from that 2014 NFC South race, because they are in the same position the Panthers were in. The Panthers and Saints both finished with seven wins, but the Panthers wound up winning the division by virtue of the half-win they earned from their tie.

It’s hard to envision any of the teams in the NFC East reaching seven wins, but they might. In fact, two or three of them might. So while 2020 might not be a gleaming example of football prowess for the NFC East, it is hardly unique in its lowliness.

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