NFL: NFC East Preview, Betting Predictions & Picks

DeSean Jackson: NFC East PredictionsEarlier this week, we kicked off our NFL preseason previews, looking at the championship odds for all 32 NFL teams, starting with the AFC East. For this article, we are taking a look at their NFC counterpart, the NFC East.

In 2018, the Philadelphia Eagles made history when they won their first Super Bowl Championship in franchise history. It also just so happened to be the first Super Bowl won by the division since 2012, when the New York Giants improbably beat the New England Patriots for the second time in as many tries.

In the last 10 years, the NFC East, which has recently been one of the more competitive divisions during the regular season, has not really tasted postseason success. In fact, over the last 10 seasons dating back to 2010, the NFC East has sent just two teams to the championship game: Philadelphia in 2018 and New York in 2012. Going back 20 years, the NFC East has sent a team five times, the Giants thrice and the Eagles twice. You have to go back to 1996 to find the last time the Dallas Cowboys reached the Super Bowl and 1992 for the Washington Redskins.

While that doesn’t feel like a great success rate necessarily, if you go all the way back to the first Super Bowl, held in 1967, the teams currently in the NFC East of Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia and New York have taken part in the game 21 times. That’s 21 appearances in 53 Super Bowls, which all in all, is pretty fantastic. In fact, that ties the AFC East for most Super Bowl appearances by division.

As noted above with that 20-year breakdown, much of the NFC East’s championship successes are well in the past. That said, all four of the teams in the division really took a positive step forward this offseason with odds seeming to suggest that one of them is a top-five favorite with the US betting sites to win the Super Bowl. That seems as good a place to start as any.

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Last year’s regular season record: 9-7 (2nd in the NFC East)
  • 2019-20 Super Bowl odds: +1200
  • 2019-20 Conference odds: +700
  • 2019-20 Division odds: -105 Favorite

Entering the 2018-19 season as the defending Super Bowl champions, a high the team had never experienced, Philadelphia needed everything to go its way just to return to the playoffs last year. Fortunately for the Eagles, they won their last three games, all crucial, and went on to win their first playoff game in extraordinary “double-doink” fashion. The Nick Foles magic wore off in the divisional round however as the team lost to the New Orleans Saints in the second round.

That said, the Eagles enter this season considered to have one of the best offensive units in all of the NFL. Those who have covered the team for years reckon this is an even better team than the one that won it all in 2017-18. That’s certainly high praise, praise the Eagles will no doubt look to prove worthy of when the season begins in September.

Continuing to show that they have one of the best front offices, the Eagles once again had a strong offseason. The team added DeSean Jackson, who returns to the Eagles several years after they drafted him. Jackson, despite having some miles on him, still has elite speed around the league and provides a deep ball threat for Carson Wentz that has effectively been missing his entire career. The team also picked up a new running back in Jordan Howard and saw Darren Sproles decide to play one more season. If training camp means anything, rookies Miles Sanders and JJ Arcega-Whiteside are expected to be key contributors.

Indicative of how competitive the NFC East has been, the division hasn’t seen a repeat champion since the Eagles did it in 2003 and 2004. It is likely that streak will continue as the Eagles seem poised to overtake the Cowboys to win the division crown for the first time since 2017.

Dallas Cowboys

  • Last year’s regular season record: 10-6 (won the NFC East)
  • 2019-20 Super Bowl odds: +2200
  • 2019-20 Conference odds: +1100
  • 2019-20 Division odds: +140

With both teams finding themselves good at the same time and for various other reasons, the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys have developed one of the NFL’s better rivalries of late. Entering the 2019-20 season, that rivalry will be on full display once again. It appears the Cowboys and Eagles will be competing for the divisional title as the two seem to be just a few steps ahead of the Giants and Redskins right now.

Much like the Eagles, the Cowboys had a strong offseason. They added Randall Cobb to their receiving corps and picked up a solid player on the defensive line in Robert Quinn. Depending on how much football he still has left in him, the Cowboys should benefit from Jason Witten opting to un-retire and return to the team where he has been one of the best tight ends in NFL and certainly Cowboys history.

There are injury questions surrounding Demarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones and more importantly, Ezekiel Elliott is currently holding out, refusing to report to camp until he receives the contract extension he believes he’s owed. While Elliott isn’t likely to miss any games this year, his status is certainly something to keep an eye on. Even if he does play week one, for a running back, missing the preseason conditioning could put him back a few weeks in terms of hitting the production he is known for. Fortunately for the Cowboys, their season doesn’t exactly open with a tough schedule as they’ll play the Giants, Redskins and Miami Dolphins in the first three weeks.

New York Giants

  • Last year’s regular season record: 5-11 (last in the NFC East)
  • 2019-20 Super Bowl odds: +8000
  • 2019-20 Conference odds: +4000
  • 2019-20 Division odds: +1200

There are two contenders in the NFC East and there are two teams in the middle of a rebuild. The Giants fall into the latter category. Last year’s NFC East cellar dwellers are projected to do the same in 2019-20, largely because they really have little in the way of difference makers on the roster. The team is still led by Eli Manning, who is well into the twilight of his career and was even benched two seasons ago. Sure New York drafted his eventual replacement in rookie Daniel Jones but management has said Jones likely won’t see the field this year. They also made some sound draft moves adding Dexter Lawrence and DeAndre Baker in the first round but still seem to be a few years away from being a few years away.

Undoubtedly and unquestioningly the brightest spot on the Giants is sophomore running back Saquon Barkley who tore up the field last year. Barkley will be working behind a stronger offensive line in 2019-20 and should have a shot at winning the MVP as the Giants will no doubt turn to their running game with alacrity. Beyond the standout back, it is hard to find anything to get excited about in the New York locker room this season.

Washington Redskins

  • Last year’s regular season record: 7-9 (3rd in the NFC East)
  • 2019-20 Super Bowl odds: +10000
  • 2019-20 Conference odds: +5000
  • 2019-20 Division odds: +900

There really aren’t any expectations for the Redskins this year, who continue to figure out what life looks like in the post-Kurt Cousins era. As far as rebuilding, the team had a solid draft grabbing Dwayne Haskins, who is expected to start this year and Montez Sweat, a nice addition to the defensive line.

Overall however, the Redskins didn’t really opt to spend much, allowing several key contributors to go elsewhere in free agency. They did pony up to steal Landon Collins away from the Giants, but his impact isn’t expected to be otherworldly.

The Redskins can’t match the explosiveness the Eagles have as deep threats or the running strength that both the Cowboys and Giants possess. Their weapons really aren’t much for the rookie QB to work with. That said, in a rebuild, the Redskins do seem to be trending upward, even if it’s going to take a while for them to get back to a place where they can really make noise in the division.