Get updated with what’s happening around the divisions, and take advantage of early NFL betting odds with our series of division predictions. This time, we look at the NFL teams in the NFC East, without question the league’s worst in 2020.
Normally mediocre teams like the ones in the NFC East last season could make a rational decision on when to direct their resources to next year.
Not that they tank, but some teams can make subtle personnel decisions when they realize it’s not their year. None of the teams in the NFC East had that opportunity in 2020 because their combined detriment kept everyone in the playoff hunt.
Even the Cowboys, once down to Ben DiNucci as quarterback were still clawing for a postseason berth in Week 17 when in a normal division they’d have been dumping players off to injured reserve by the SUV load.
Odds to Win Division: -120
To be fair, they were already off to an auspicious start. A single-point victory over the Atlanta Falcons separated them from an 0-4 start (though they were still 1-3).
The Dallas Cowboys struggled to be the team projected by the oddsmakers when they lined them at a season-win total of 10, and set their Super Bowl odds at a competitive 12-to-1.
Then, in Week 5, everything went completely off the rails when Dak Prescott shattered his ankle so badly he would undergo emergency surgery even before the Cowboys managed to scrape out the win with backup quarterback Andy Dalton against the Giants.
Of course, Dallas would fail to cash in on their season wins over bets, falling to a 2-7 record just before their bye week.
They would remain in playoff contention only because of the weak NFC East competition, finally being eliminated by the Giants in Week 17.
Mike McCarthy will return for a second season (because it takes at least that long before Jerry will admit to a coaching-hire mistake). They did swap fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan for Falcons’ former head coach Dan Quinn, which might be evidence that irony isn’t dead.
Now, it’s all about Dak who enters free agency (again) and faces negotiation for a new contract where the greatest slap in the face might be another franchise tag. The pressure is building to reach a deal before the March 9th deadline, but certainly Prescott will be under center again this season not barring any serious meltdowns in contract negotiations.
Dallas does sit slightly above average in regard to salary cap space, with just over $20-million of room. In addition to managing Prescott’s monster number, even if they do tag him again, they have a small but key number of free agents to consider.
On defense, defensive end Tyrone Crawford and outside linebackers Sean Lee and Aldon Smith are all up, as are center Joe Looney and tackle Cam Erving. So too is backup quarterback Andy Dalton.
The moves the Cowboys make to address these players will shape how they look coming into next year, particularly considering how badly they need to shore up their offensive line.
Otherwise, their biggest consideration is how to improve what was a porous defense last season. Dallas has deep needs at both the front defensive four and at secondary.
So even though they played meaningful games right up until the last, they still managed to have the tenth overall pick in the draft, with a selection in each of the seven rounds.
Even with a comeback player of the year type of performance from Prescott, the line of -120 to win the division is steep even for the team clearly handicaped to the favorite.
Giving them a 55% chance on a long-term futures bet seems like a lack of value despite their position of advantage.
Early Prediction W-L: 9-7
New York Giants
Odds to Win Division: +500
Not much was expected of last season’s New York Giants, and they delivered even less. Lined at 6½ for their season win total and given 100-1 Super Bowl odds,
New York lost the over in a defeat to the Ravens, dropping them to 5-10. Thanks to being in the NFC East, their postseason hopes weren’t crushed until about the fourth quarter of the final game of the year, ending second in the division.
Back for the second year of his coaching tenure, Joe Judge returns his staff almost completely intact. That also means the return of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, and the promise of another season of low-scoring totals.
Daniel Jones will get his third season to show the team that he can mature into the starting quarterback that they need, or at least one who stops himself from thinking he can make that downfield play. (That’s the one that only he thinks he can make, that usually ends dangerously at best, or with an interception at worst.)
The Giants will work on getting an offensive line that can help Jones from getting himself killed, which is the current direction in which things are going. On offense, New York could also consider bolstering the roster at wide receiver and tight end. On defense, their needs are fewer, but they still hope to improve at the defensive end, cornerback and linebacker positions.
To that end, they’ll be selecting 11th overall in the draft and have a pick in each of the seven rounds.
They’re a little tight on cap space but not in as dire a position as some teams. Ranking 21st in regard to free space, the Giants are currently about $1-million over the limit. The bulk of their re-signing money for unrestricted free agency is headed to the defense, as players like defensive end Leonard Williams, nose tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and linebacker Kyler Fackrell expect paydays. On offense, the same could be said for running back Wayne Gallman.
On the long-term injury front, the Giants look forward to returning Saquon Barkley who blew his ACL in the second week of the 2020 season.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Giants are able to acquire a single new player to bolster their chances, but at +500 they’re nearly a value bet to win what’s still a mediocre division. Should some surprise downfall occur to one of the other teams — like we all wake up shocked to the news that the Cowboys traded Prescott or something — taking a long-shot on the Giants would be the most advantageous bet of the four.
Early Prediction W-L: 7-9
Odds to Win Division: +275
If they were pegged as a dark horse entering last season, they stumbled out of the gate. Oddsmakers set the Eagles at 9½ season wins, giving a slightly better than average chance to ship it all at +3000. Their season win total crashed to the under in a primetime Monday loss to the Seahawks, with their elongated NFC East playoff chances ruined a month later by the Cowboys. They covered a grand total of six games against the spread.
After some vicious infighting between the coach and quarterback, both Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz are now gone from the team — which begs the question of exactly how bad things were last year.
Trading Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts was necessary for an Eagles team who, for one, broke Carson Wentz into a thousand tiny pieces, and two, were dangerously above their salary cap number carrying Wentz like a lead anchor.
Philadelphia swapped out Doug Pederson for Nick Sirianni, the Colts’ offensive coordinator. Sirianni brings with him a new offensive coordinator, Shane Steichen, released from the Los Angeles Chargers, defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, the Colts’ former cornerbacks coach, and special-teams’ coordinator Michael Clay, the San Francisco 49ers’ former assistant special-teams’ coordinator. A number of the positional coaches remain.
Now, at quarterback, they have Jalen Hurts and a commitment to have some kind of competition, which implies they’ll import someone with whom Hurts can compete. Even having ditched Wentz, they’re still in a dire cap situation and have also waived wide receiver DeSean Jackson, one of probably a few salary-cap freeing cuts.
Beyond having to re-sign or replace a number of unrestricted free agents — veteran left tackle Jason Peters being a prime example — the Eagles are in a position to have to consider waiving even more than DeSean Jackson. (The bigger question is if Zach Ertz will be returned.)
In addition, Philadelphia will need help at wideout, tight end, likely on the offensive line and still need to find that quarterback to compete with Hurts. Not to mention, the team still could use at least some defensive help at cornerback and linebacker.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that they pick highest among their other division rivals at sixth overall and boast eight picks for this draft. (While they have no fourth rounder, they do have two picks in the third and fifth rounds.)
The pieces are there for the Eagles — what other team has as many Pro Bowl selections as they did wins? — but their odds to win the division seems like they’re already pricing in having a working, if not decent quarterback. At +275, a Jalen Hurts led Eagles’ team would have to win the division slightly better than a quarter of the time to make that a decent bet, and you’d expect they’ll need to give some clarity on that position before that seems like a reasonable bet.
Early Prediction W-L: 8-8
Washington Football Team
Odds to Win Division: +375
Expectations couldn’t have been much lower last season for the Washington Football Team, as oddsmakers set their over-under for season wins at a paltry five, with laughable 300-to-1 Super Bowl odds. While they didn’t carry a winning record past the first week, they did cash the season-wins over in their Week 14 victory over San Francisco. They also went 10-7 against the spread as they managed to win the division title.
Ron Rivera’s coaching staff returns pretty much entirely untouched. Add to that they reunited Rivera with Marty Hurney, the former Panthers’ general manager, now in Washington as the vice-president of player personnel. And, for the first time in living memory, brought in a general manager that isn’t the owner, in Martin Mayhew. It literally begs a “what could go wrong” joke.
One place to start is quarterback, where the team has to decide how much risk they can place on Alex Smith for his safety and the team’s fortunes. Serious debate is now underway about what a Taylor Heinicke led team would look like over the duration of the season.
Though they do have room to spare should they want to entertain another player under center, with just over $30-million in space they list as the tenth best team in regard to salary-cap space. That said, they do have some larger paydays coming up, most notably for all-pro offensive guard Brandon Scherff. A number of free agents on defense, defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, cornerback Ronald Darby and linebackers Thomas Davis and Kevin Pierre-Louis are also of note.
Washington isn’t lacking in positions which could use positive reinforcements. They still have O-line gaps, needs at wide receiver and tight end, not to mention again quarterback. On defense, they’re in better shape, particularly up front, but could still look to improve in their secondary.
As punishment for being the NFC East team to host a playoff game, they select 19th overall in the draft, but do have eight picks, with at least one in each round but the sixth (and two in the third and seventh).
Washington at +375 is the kind of bet you would run to make when it’s time, and under Taylor Heinicke it’s not time. If they eventually roll with Heinicke, then we’d give them even less than the roughly 20% chance implied in those odds. In the likely event that no new quarterback signs on to become a Football Teamer, there will be a ton of time to watch a Taylor Heinicke and Alex Smith quarterback competition play out.
Early Prediction W-L: 7-9
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