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A look at every NFC East winner since 2004 and why they didn't repeat

The Eagles will try to repeat as NFC East winners, which hasn't been done in nearly two decades.

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We all know it’s been 19 years since the NFC East has had a repeat champion. The Eagles won four straight division titles from 2001 through 2004 and since then nobody has won the division back-to-back. 

Since 2004, the Eagles have won seven division titles, the Cowboys six, the Giants three and the Washington Football Team three.

What’s really interesting is how poorly the last 18 division champs did the next year. Not only did they not win the division, most didn’t come close.

Only three of the 18 made the playoffs the next year – the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants once each - and only two won a playoff game.

Seven of those 18 finished second in the division the next year, but six finished third and five last. So more than 60 percent of them – 11 of 18 – finished in the bottom half of the division.

The 18 division champs from 2004 through 2021 averaged 11 wins per year. Those same teams averaged 7 ½ wins the next year, an average decline of 3 ½ wins per season over nearly two decades.

Seven of the 18 had a winning record the next year, six had a losing record and the five others went 8-8.

So if you won the NFC East over the last 18 years, you had almost as good a chance to have a losing record the next year (33 percent of the time) as a winning record (39 percent).

Here’s a look at each division winner and what happened the next year:

2004 and 2005 Eagles

(Won NFC East at 13-3 in 2004, 6-10 and 4th place 2005)

After going reaching the Super Bowl in 2004, the Eagles got off to a 4-2 start in 2006. But the T.O. distraction and Donovan McNabb’s season-ending sports hernia derailed the season in a hurry. The Eagles won just two of their last 10 games and finished last in the division for the first time since 1999.

2005 and 2006 Giants

(Won NFC East at 11-5 in 2005, 8-8 and 3rd place in 2006)

The 2004 Giants had gone 6-10, but in 2005 the addition of Plaxico Burress and the emergence of Eli Manning in his first year as a starter propelled the Giants to their first division title since 2000. But in 2006, after a 6-2 start, they went 2-6 the second half of the season and lost to Jeff Garcia and the Eagles at the Linc 23-20 in a wild-card game. They remain one of only three NFC East champs since 2005 to reach the postseason the next year.

2006 and 2007 Eagles

(Won NFC East at 10-6 in 2006, 8-8 and 4th place in 2007]

A year after the Jeff Garcia season, the Eagles opened 1-3, McNabb got hurt again, this time a torn ACL, and the Eagles never had a winning record at any point in the season. They finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs for one of only two times between 2000 and 2010.

2007 and 2008 Cowboys

(Won NFC East at 13-3 in 2007, 9-7 and 3rd place in 2008)

Dallas had won the division in 2007 behind huge seasons from Tony Romo, T.O. and Jason Witten in 2007, and they got off to a 8-4 start in 2008 before collapsing, losing three of their last four games, including a disastrous 44-6 loss at the Linc on the final day of the season that cost them a playoff berth and gave one to the Eagles.

2008 and 2009 Giants

(Won NFC East at 12-4 in 2008, 8-8 and 3rd place in 2009)

For the second time in four years, the Giants followed a division title season with an 8-8 record. The 2009 Giants opened up 5-0 for only the third time in franchise history before going 3-8 the rest of the season, allowing 40 or more points five times – including both Eagles games. 

2009 and 2010 Cowboys

(Won NFC East at 11-5 in 2009, 6-10 and 3rd place in 2010)

Coming off a big 2009 season, expectations were high in Dallas, but halfway through the season, they found themselves 1-5 with a five-game losing streak, Romo was out for the season with a broken collarbone and Wade Phillips was fired and replaced by Jason Garrett. That 2010 season began a stretch of four straight non-winning season for the Cowboys – their longest since the late 1980s.

2010 and 2011 Eagles

(Won NFC East at 10-6 in 2010, 8-8 and 2nd place in 2011)

With Michael Vick unable to match the magic of 2010 and then getting hurt and replaced by Vince Young for three games, the Eagles found themselves 4-8 after back-to-back blowout losses to the Patriots and Seahawks. They won their last four games to save Andy Reid’s job, but only for one more year.

2011 and 2012 Giants

(Won NFC East at 9-7 and won Super Bowl in 2011, 9-7 and 2nd place in 2012)

The Giants won the Super Bowl in 2011 as a wild-card team after going 9-7 and winning a weak NFC East. They matched that 9-7 mark in 2012 but finished a game behind Washington in the division after losing five of their last eight games. They haven’t won the division since 2011.

2012 and 2013 Washington Foootball Team

(Won NFC East at 10-6 in 2012, 3-13 and 4th place in 2013)

The 2012 season was really an anomoly for Washington – their only winning season in a seven-year period from 2008 through 2014 and Robert Griffin III’s one big season before injuries derailed his career. In 2013, they were back in last place after going 3-13 and losing their last eight games. The three wins are the fewest by a defending NFC East champion since the inception of the current divisional system in 1970.

2013 and 2014 Eagles

(Won NFC East at 10-6 in 2013, 10-6 and 2nd place in 2014)

After winning the NFC East behind Nick Foles and Coach of the Year Chip Kelly in 2013, it looked like more of the same in 2014 when they raced out to a 9-3 start. But with Foles hurt and Mark Sanchez mostly ineffective, consecutive late-season losses to the Seahawks, Cowboys and Washington left them out of the playoffs despite a 10-win season.

2014 and 2015 Cowboys

(Won NFC East at 12-4 in 2014, 4-12 and 4th place in 2015)

With Tony Romo limited to just four starts, the Cowboys went from 12-4 in 2014 to 4-12 in 2015 – their worst record in 26 years. They were 3-1 with Romo at quarterback and 1-11 under Kellen Moore, Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel. 

2015 and 2016 Washington Football Team

(Won NFC East at 9-7 in 2015, 8-7-1 and 3rd place in 2016)

In 2015, Washington opened 5-7 but won its last four games to finish 9-7 and win the NFC East under Jay Gruden. They went 8-7-1 the next year, finishing third in the division. They haven’t had a winning season since.

2016 and 2017 Cowboys

(Won NFC East at 13-3 in 2016, 9-7 and 2nd place in 2017)

Dallas, which hasn’t won back-to-back NFC East titles since 1995 and 1996, followed their 13-3 division title season in Dak Prescott’s rookie year in 2016 with a 9-7 record. Even winning four of their last five games wasn’t enough to get them into the playoffs.

2017 and 2018 Eagles

(Won NFC East at 13-3 and won Super Bowl in 2017, 9-7 and 2nd place in 2018)

Sputtering along at 4-6 in mid-November after going 13-3 and winning the Super Bowl in 2017, the Eagles won five of their last six games – four of them under Nick Foles, who replaced injured Carson Wentz for the second straight year. The Eagles went into Chicago and won a wild-card game, becoming the first NFC East team to win a playoff game a year after winning the division since the 2004 Eagles 14 years earlier. 

2018 and 2019 Cowboys

(Won NFC East at 10-6 in 2018, 8-8 and 2nd place in 2019)

After winning the NFC East in 2018, the Cowboys proceeded to go 8-8 the next year after a 3-0 start. Jason Garrett got fired after the season and was replaced by Mike McCarthy.

2019 and 2020 Eagles

(Won NFC East at 9-7 in 2019, 4-11-1 and 4th place in 2020)

For only the second time ever, the Eagles followed a division title with a losing season. Doug Pederson’s final season was a nightmare, the Eagles winning just one of their first six games and going 3-8-1 before Carson Wentz was mercifully benched for Jalen Hurts. It was the third time since 2004 the Eagles finished first one year and last the next.

2020 and 2021 Washington

(Won NFC East at 7-9 in 2020, 7-10 and 3rd place in 2021)

Washington won the division in a terrible NFC East in 2020 despite a losing record in Ron Rivera’s first season as head coach and duplicated the seven wins a year later with a 7-10 record in 2021.

2021 and 2022 Cowboys

(Won NFC East at 12-5 in 2021, 12-5 and 2nd place in 2022)

After winning the division 2021, the Cowboys repeated the 12 wins in 2022, finishing two games behind the Eagles in the NFC East. The Cowboys became the first NFC East team to win 12 games in consecutive years since the Eagles did it three years in a row from 2002 through 2004 - but it wasn't enough to catch the Eagles. The 2022 Cowboys joined the 2018 Eagles as only the second team since 2004 to win the division one year and win a playoff game the next.

2023 Eagles

(Won NFC East at 14-3 in 2022, ??? in 2023)

The Eagles will be looking to end an 18-year drought for NFC East champions when the season begins a week from Sunday. 

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