The NFC East is often one of the tightest divisions in the NFL, and it’s usually very tough to predict. Just last season, the Dallas Cowboys went from last place to first place, winning 13 games in 2016 after a four-win performance in 2015.
Are the Cowboys going to be stellar once again, or will another team take the division crown? Let’s look at some bets from USA Betting’s top recommended sportsbooks, analyze each team’s chances at winning the NFC East and then formulate this preview’s predictions and pick which teams you should or shouldn’t bet on.
New York Giants (2016 record: 11-5, No. 2 in NFC East, Lost in NFC Wild Card Round)
Was the Giants’ top-five defense from last year a fluke? Maybe a little bit, but New York should still have the best stopping unit in the division thanks to many of the big names they acquired two offseasons ago. That’s huge when considering its chances at winning the NFC East.
New York will also have a strong passing game, led by quarterback Eli Manning, a trio of excellent receivers in Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard and a first-round pick tight end in Evan Engram. The run game is weak, but the NFL in 2017 is a passing league. The Giants should still have an offense that ranks in the top half of the league.
The Giants are the only team in this division that has a good chance at being strong on both sides of the ball.
- Record Prediction: 10-6
- Best Odds: +190 at Bovada.
Dallas Cowboys (2016 record: 13-3, No. 1 in NFC East, Lost in NFC Divisional Round)
Dallas’ chances at winning the NFC East looked a whole lot better before running back Ezekiel Elliott received his six-game suspension for domestic violence. Elliott has appealed the suspension and may end up being available for Week 1, but the odds are against that happening.
In their first six games, the Cowboys face three of the top 10 rush defenses from last season. Sure, the offensive line is elite and Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris are solid running backs, but they aren’t Zeke. Dallas’ elite offense could lose quite a bit of its punch in that time frame. Quarterback Dak Prescott does rely quite a bit on the threat of Elliott’s running ability.
Then there’s the issue of reintegrating Elliott back into the offense midseason, which may or may not be a smooth transition.
The Cowboys still have a bunch of talent all through the roster, but they lost some key veterans from last year’s surprisingly strong defense. I also see the offense falling back to earth somewhat as teams learn how to defend Dak Prescott after his out-of-nowhere Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign.
- Record Prediction: 8-8
- Best Odds: +190 at Bovada.
Philadelphia Eagles (2016 record: 7-9, No. 4 in NFC East)
The Eagles won’t be anything special this season. Second-year quarterback Carson Wentz needs to make some major adjustments from last season after a rough final three-quarters of the campaign. After a strong first four games, Wentz registered seven passing touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his next 11 contests, a stretch in which the Eagles went 2-9.
While Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith will give Wentz more help in the receiving game, the running game is nothing to write home about. Overall, expect Philly to be one of the less impressive offenses in the league.
Defensively, the line is fantastic. That can somewhat cover for the lack of proven linebackers and cornerbacks.
If Wentz can make a huge leap from how he played for most of his rookie year, the playoffs are in reach. However, that definitely isn’t a given.
- Record prediction: 7-9
- Best Odds: +350 at Intertops.
Washington Redskins (2016 record: 8-7-1, No. 3 in NFC East)
Washington’s strength is supposed to be its offense. However, if preseason is any indication, its first-team unit looks totally out of sync, like how the league’s worst offenses look. Now, these performances probably are somewhat misleading, but it’s enough to believe that the Redskins may not be an offensive juggernaut. They lost a couple of key receivers, quarterback Kirk Cousins doesn’t look comfortable and the offensive line was surprisingly leaky.
Will the Redskins’ defense be able to pick up the slack? It won’t be a poor unit like it has been for much of the 2010s, as it has a lot of versatility, athleticism and depth — but it most certainly isn’t an elite unit that can cover for poor offensive play.
Washington isn’t a terrible team, but it will be the worst squad in the NFC East.
- Record Prediction: 6-10
- Best Odds: +600 at Bovada.
Our Preview’s NFC East Predictions & Picks Verdict
The Giants’ odds look the best here. The bookies still seem to like the Cowboys after their big year, but I hesitate to be so confident in them with a defense losing so many pieces and an offense reliant on Dak Prescott while Ezekiel Elliot serves his suspension.
Overall, I would prioritize betting on New York, Washington, Philadelphia and Dallas, in that order. The Redskins do have a chance to be a very good offense — maybe their preseason performance is 100 percent misleading.
- So the advised pick is to bet on the New York Giants to win the NFC East @ best odds of +190 with Bovada Sportsbook.
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.