How many NFC East teams are through to the divisional round of the playoffs?
The San Francisco 49ers are surrounded in the divisional round by teams from the NFC East, something that hasn’t happened in a quarter century.
With the Dallas Cowboys’ dominant display over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Giants’ clever play against the Minnesota Vikings, we saw once again that it is possible to have divisional champions who can’t stack up against some Wild Card teams.
Wins by the Cowboys and Giants, along with the first seeding of the Philadelphia Eagles, has elevated the NFC East to a position not reached by any division since before the National Football League realigned in 2002.
The San Francisco 49ers are the only non-East organization left alive in the NFC.
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This marks the first time since the divisions were realigned that the NFL has three teams from the same sector contesting the divisional round.
Not since 1997, in the old NFC Central, had three teams from the same division come this far in the playoffs. Back then, it was the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers who reached this stage (the old NFC Central had four teams in the postseason, and the Bucs had beaten the Lions in the Wild Card round).
From the 1970 NFL-AFL merger all the way up until 2002, the league was divided into six divisions. With the addition of the Houston Texans, the league realigned to have eight divisions, with four teams in each.
Throughout most of the 2022 season, there was no division more committed than the NFC East. The four teams compiled a record of 43-23-2. The NFC East had the third-best winning percentage for any division in NFL history (.647) and has now stiffened their claim on being the best division in football this postseason.
The NFC East controls the divisional round of the playoffs with the 14-win Eagles and 12-win Cowboys. One of those three NFC East teams is guaranteed to advance to the conference title game, giving the NFC East its first shot at a Super Bowl since the 2017 Eagles.
SOMETHING LIKE NO OTHER
There has been no division to date in which every team has clinched at least one Vince Lombardi Trophy, apart from the NFC East.
In the AFC East, the Bills have never lofted the silverware, while out West, it is the Chargers who have yet to win a Super Bowl. Neither the Bengals nor the Browns have won the NFL’s ultimate title in the AFC North, while the AFC South sees the Jaguars, Texans, and Titans all yet to hold the trophy in their hands.
While over in the NFC, the West is close to the mark, with only the Cardinals yet to achieve that long-awaited celebration.