The NFC East was the home of the 2017 Super Bowl champion. It wasn’t the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants or Washington Redskins, who all posted winning records the prior year. It was the Philadelphia Eagles, who improved from 7-9 to 13-3 and rode elite performances on both sides of the football to an unexpected championship.
Philadelphia brought back most of its Super Bowl-winning roster and is the obvious favorite with the America-friendly online oddsmakers to win the NFC East for a second straight year. But how do the three other squads stack up? And which of the teams is most worthy of our betting investment?
Let’s delve into each team’s situation heading into 2018 and see which squad has the most favorable odds to win the division. This preview will then give its NFC East predictions and picks.
Philadelphia Eagles (2017 record: 13-3, No. 1 in NFC East, Won Super Bowl)
The Eagles were one of the league’s biggest surprises in 2017. Not only did they improve their record by six victories, they led the NFL in point differential (plus-162) and won the Super Bowl. They did so despite losing star quarterback Carson Wentz to injury in Week 13. Backup QB Nick Foles came on strong in the postseason to lead a balanced squad to a championship.
Heading into the 2018 season, a deep Philadelphia roster looks just as dangerous on paper. The Eagles retained virtually all of their main contributors and many of the top players on the roster are young. Quarterback Carson Wentz, pass-catchers Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz, defensive lineman Fletcher Cox and offensive lineman Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks are all under 28 and lead the teams’ efforts on both sides of the ball.
Potential troubles for the team could be a lack of motivation after an unexpected Super Bowl run, the absence of many true superstars on the roster and Wentz’s recovery from his ACL surgery.
- Record Prediction: 12-4
- Best Odds To Win NFC East: -150 at 5Dimes.
Dallas Cowboys (2017 record: 9-7, No. 2 in NFC East)
Dallas, like the rest of this division besides the Eagles, disappointed in 2017. Quarterback Dak Prescott was very ordinary just one year after posting a rookie campaign for the ages. His offensive line also regressed and the defensive unit was average after a breakout 2016.
Unfortunately Dallas’ offseason was not good. The squad lost its two best pass-catchers, wide receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten, giving it one of the weakest receiving corps in the NFL. The pressure will be on running back Ezekiel Elliott to recapture his rookie year magic and carry the offense.
On defense, there is solid young talent, led by All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. The unit is still developing and not totally stacked, though, so don’t expect it to dominate opponents.
For the Cowboys to get close to the 13 wins they had two seasons ago, they’ll need a lot of things to go their way.
- Record Prediction: 8-8
- Best Odds: +360 at 5Dimes.
New York Giants (2017 record: 3-13, No. 4 in NFC East)
The Giants took a major tumble in the standings last season, falling from 11 to three wins. Pretty much everything went wrong, from injuries to dysfunction and flat-out uninspired play. The team responded by hiring a new general manager, (Dave Gettleman) a new coach (Pat Shurmur) and a new defensive coordinator (James Bettcher).
A change was needed, but the roster is still just decent even if it stays healthy. It’s also very reliant on two big question marks: quarterback Eli Manning and an offensive line that was terrible in 2017. Rookie running back Saquon Barkley should provide a nice boost, though.
Manning is a future Hall of Famer but he is 37 years old and has been steadily declining. His past three years have seen him decline every campaign in passing yards, passing touchdowns and passer rating. It will be a big help if All-Pro receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and a new offensive line can stay healthy and intact.
The defense has solid talent and will be challenged by a switch to a 3-4 formation. There could be a transition period, though, so don’t expect big things right away.
- Record Prediction: 7-9
- Best Odds: +700 at Bovada.
Washington Redskins (2017 record: 7-9, No. 3 in NFC East)
The Redskins made a big change in the offseason, transitioning from Kirk Cousins to Alex Smith at quarterback. Smith found a lot of success with the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs and has gone 71-31-1 in his last 103 starts.
Will Smith be a seamless fit in Washington? There are reasons for doubt. He has always done best when surrounded by a strong running game and a stout defense, but the Redskins have neither.
The Redskins just don’t have any major strengths on either side of the ball after an offseason that saw the loss of some key players in the secondary. Offensive tackle Trent Williams, tight end Jordan Reed and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan are stars, but the depth at many positions just isn’t there. Washington has a very, very slim chance at winning the NFC East.
- Record Prediction: 6-10
- Best Odds: +825 at 5Dimes.
Our Betting Preview’s NFC East Predictions & Picks Verdict
The Redskins are a squad that is pretty easy to count out here. They don’t really have an elite position group or unit to lean on for an identity. The Giants aren’t a terrible bet, especially if running back Saquon Barkley explodes in year one.
- Overall, though, the Eagles at -150 is your best betting option with 5Dimes. The squad has no significant weaknesses and is a young group on the upswing. It seems that only bad injury luck can prevent them from winning the NFC East.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.