NFL: NFC East Preview, Predictions & Picks 2020

Ezekiel Elliott: NFC East PredictionsUSAbetting begins its divisional NFL previews for the 2020 football season with a betting guide to the NFC East. We analyze each team, their odds and offer our predictions.

The NFL is full steam ahead to start its season on time. As major sporting leagues around the world are attempting to approve a return to play, despite the rest of their U.S. peers having shut down, the NFL opted in March to begin their league year as scheduled.

Then, they doubled down by announcing the NFL draft would still go on as scheduled in April, albeit virtually. In early May, the league continued to turn heads when commissioner Roger Goodell noted that NFL training camps would still be starting on time. A few days later, the schedule for the 2020 season was released.

The next big date to keep an eye on is mid-July when players would ordinarily be reporting to training camp. The first game on the docket is a month later, on August 6th, for the Hall of Fame induction weekend in Canton, Ohio. MLB by contrast cancelled their Hall of Fame weekend for Cooperstown, NY, which was planned for July 26th.

All around them, the NFL has so far been able to stand tall, adapting but not being forced to cancel any of their league calendar. It has been somewhat remarkable really, but nothing matters until the games start being played. If the NFL can manage to play through their season, it will be symbolic and for America, will certainly also point to a sign that things can return to normal. Because come the fall, there is nothing people look forward to more on the sports calendar than the NFL.

However, we now focus on our divisional previews, specifically the NFC East, a division that has produced several Super Bowl winners but has experienced its struggles over the past few years.

The most recent NFC East champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, who won the title in 2017, claimed the divisional title last year with just a 9-7 record. Competitive until the end with the Dallas Cowboys, the NFC East has really been a two-horse race recently and the same looks to be the case in 2020.

Just look at the Super Bowl odds with the leading U.S. sports gambling operators. Both the Eagles and Cowboys are at similar odds to hoist the Lombardi Trophy this season while the New York Giants and Washington Redskins are in the bottom five.

Dallas Cowboys

-110 to Win NFC East; +1600 to Win Super Bowl, both with Bovada Sportsbook

Short favorites to win the division for the third time in what would be the last six seasons, perhaps the Cowboys biggest offseason move was made aboard Jerry Jones’ yacht. With CeeDee Lamb, considered by many pre-draft boards to be the top wide receiver in the class, falling down the chart, Dallas swooped in just a few picks ahead of the Eagles to steal the extremely talented pass catcher.

Lamb now adds to a receiving corps that includes Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. The Cowboys also have Ezekiel Elliott running the ball and over the past few years, he has been one of the best at the position. Dak Prescott really won’t have any excuses if he puts in a subpar season. This is a big year for Prescott anyway as he looks to work out a new contract with the team. Right now, the two sides aren’t quite there but if Prescott leads the Cowboys to a few playoff wins and their first real shot at a title since the days when the VCR was the hit thing, he might get exactly what he wants from Jones and co.

Dallas isn’t a perfect football team and some will point to a lack of focus on their line as a draft weakness but overall, they are the best the NFC East has got. That said, the Cowboys have a history of choking away big opportunities meaning the Eagles will be in the race all year long.

Philadelphia Eagles

+125 to Win NFC East; +2000 for Super Bowl

The NFL Draft left many in Philadelphia shaking their heads. Instead of trading up to steal Lamb, the Eagles settled for Jalen Reagor, who isn’t exactly known for his hands even if he does have great speed. He is a small guy, much in the vein of DeSean Jackson, whose injury question mark may have led to Philadelphia going this direction in the draft. Reagor’s selection, while a bit of a reach could be justified.

The same can’t really be said for using their second round pick on a quarterback, a move that shocked many. While Jalen Hurts has talent he is nowhere near ready to helm a football team, a sentiment his head coach echoed when he suggested that Hurts would start the year as the third string quarterback. Now, the Eagles could opt to use Hurts the same way the New Orleans Saints have successfully used Taysom Hill, adding an intriguing element to their offense.

Everything still revolves around million-dollar man Carson Wentz and his ability to stay healthy. Wentz, by bad luck and injury issues, hasn’t played a full NFL season since he entered the league four years ago. As Philadelphia has seen over that time though, when Wentz is on, he is one of the best in the league. Eagles fans will need to see more than glimpses though to justify Wentz’ big money deal made last year.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles actually used the draft quite well but they did have to make some tough contract decisions including letting team leader Malcom Jenkins walk this offseason. That one is going to hurt as this team looks to rebuild its secondary, which has been dreadful for a long time now.

Couple these questions with a tough schedule and Philly is slotted into the second spot in the division. The Eagles have had a habit of finding miracles where there seemingly have been none in order to make the playoffs against insurmountable odds. No one should be shocked if they manage the same in 2020.

New York Giants

+1200 NFC East; +8000 Super Bowl

It has been a tumultuous few seasons for the New York Giants, so much so it’s hard to believe this was the team that not all that long ago defeated Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to win two Super Bowls. Those champions are long gone, the last bastion of that surviving era, Eli Manning, retiring at the end of last season.

That means the Daniel Jones era is officially underway. Jones started last season but now, this is undoubtedly his team. He may well be New York’s next franchise quarterback but time will tell. For now, he is just there to continue to grow and improve. Overall, he doesn’t have much to work with, the biggest bright spot on the team being running back Saquon Barkley. Injury led to an off year for Barkley in 2019 but he’s ready to return to form. The problem is, his best years may yet be wasted on a team that isn’t quite ready to contend.

New York has one heck of a schedule this year too and it really doesn’t look good for the Giants to win a lot of games this year. They will look to a brand new coach, Joe Judge, who learned under the Bill Belichick coaching tree but fans of the Giants should brace themselves for a transitional year.

Washington Redskins

+1600 NFC East; +12500 Super Bowl

If you believe in underdogs, you could stand to make a lot of money on the improbable shot that the Washington Redskins win the Super Bowl, but we wouldn’t advise it. Not even a little.

Washington took a deep dive down the standings after they let Kirk Cousins walk, seeing their consistent 7-9 records drop to 3-13. This year, expect more of the same. The Redskins are the outsiders in the sportsbooks’ NFC East odds for a reason as this is not a very good football team. They have got a lot of problems, ones that they seem content to handle by plugging holes and not fixing the root of it all.

Dan Snyder needs to go. As an owner, he has well over-stayed his welcome. Washington, no matter how much talent comes through and subsequently goes out the door, will win with him at the helm. That said, there are some bright spots. It will certainly be fun to watch Chase Young do his thing and just demolish Jones, Prescott and Wentz, but Dwayne Haskins is still a work in progress and from a skill position standpoint, Washington doesn’t have much. They have got a tough schedule, so expect Washington to stay out of the win column for much of the year.