Barnwell: How bad are the Cowboys, Eagles, Giants and Washington?

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When the Eagles knocked away a Hail Mary attempt from third-string 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard to hold on for a 25-20 victory in Santa Clara, California, on Sunday night, they did more than win a game. At 1-2-1, the Eagles are now in first place in the NFC East, a division in which four teams seem to be conspiring to lose football games. Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson’s decision in overtime of Week 3 to settle for a tie with the Bengals — who were the NFL’s worst team a year ago — helped push the Eagles into first place after four weeks.

The victory did more than help the Eagles, though; it saved the division from an ignominious fate. After four games, the NFC East is a combined 3-12-1. Since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970, there have been 344 divisional races. Philadelphia’s tie saved the 2020 edition of the NFC East from being the worst division in modern league history through four games.

Instead, this edition of the NFC East is merely the second-worst division of the past 50 years, coming in one-half game ahead of the 1984 AFC Central, which went a combined

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