The AFC and the NFC are shaping up to see their potential winners early after week five of the 2021 NFL season.
The NFC East has been one of the wildest, yet most underwhelming divisions in the NFL.
No team has won the division twice in a row since the Philadelphia Eagles in 2003 and 2004. The Dallas Cowboys are currently one of the top teams in the league and they seem to be dominating the division. With their 4-1 overall record and the other teams suffering significant losses, the Cowboys could one of the first teams in the NFL to clinch their division.
After their 31-29 week one loss on the road to the defending Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Cowboys have won four games in a row. Two of those games were against NFC East teams, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants. Dallas also won impressive victories over two playoff contending teams in the Los Angeles Chargers away and at home to the Carolina Panthers.
As of Monday morning, five of the eight divisions are separated by one game. The Tennessee Titans are two games ahead in a disappointing AFC South division at 3-2 overall, while the Buffalo Bills, 4-1, are winning big in the AFC East.
The Cowboys seem to have found consistency and rhythm on both sides of the ball this season, which is something they didn't have last season.
The teams has a healthy Dak Prescott as their starting quarterback. Prescott has thrown for 1,368 yards, 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions on 122 completions (out of 165 passing attempts).
The offense is also finally getting big results from their running back Ezekiel Elliot, who has rushed for 452 yards and five touchdowns on 85 carries.
Finally, Dallas has threefold weapons for Prescott to utilize in wide receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb and tight end Dalton Schultz, who are showing their consistency and toughness early in the season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys are rebounding in a major way after their disastrous season last year with Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator. With Dan Quinn as the new defensive coordinator, the Cowboys are playing smarter and more aggressive football.
This season, the defense for Dallas ranks 15th in the league in points allowed per game (23.4). Rookie Micah Parsons has been solid as a dual-position edge rusher and middle linebacker. Second-year cornerback Trevon Diggs has been one of the best defensive players in the league in five games this season, having accounted for 18 total tackles, 16 solo tackles, ten pass deflections and six interceptions. One of his interceptions was returned for a 59-yard touchdown against Philadelphia.
While Dallas is playing with a great level of consistency, the rest of the teams in the NFC East are suffering significant losses. The New York Giants, 1-4, are plagued with injuries on the offensive side of the ball at the skilled positions. The Washington Football Team, 2-3, have an underwhelming defense, despite having many former first round players starting. Finally, the Philadelphia Eagles, 2-3, who were projected to be last in the NFC East before the start of the NFL season, are playing more consistently than New York and Washington.
If Dallas continues to play highly efficient football on both sides of the ball, they will continue to win big games. They currently have a +53 in point differential. They are 85 points more than the second place team in their division (Washington). They have the second-highest point differential in between the first and second place teams in the division behind the Buffalo Bills' 104 point differential. The Cowboys look to win the NFC East for the first time since the 2018 NFL season.