Folks, the season is basically here - September 9th can’t come soon enough. Until then we will prepare for the season with several divisional previews where we breakdown each team, as I will give unofficial thoughts on win shares and division winner picks. It’s also exciting to note we will get one extra week during the regular season to bet on football and play fantasy.
What a time to believe alive!
Without further ado I give you our full, NFC East preview. Aka the “NFC least.” This division was a disaster last year, starting with the winner - Washington at 7-9. It was just the third time in league history where a team with a losing record made it to the postseason. The Giants and Cowboys finished 6-10. The Eagles rounded out the back, finishing 4-11-1, firing head coach Doug Pederson and then shipping Carson Wentz out of town during the offseason.
Still, for all its faults, the NFC East may be the tightest division race. The Eagles at +500 have the shortest odds for any fourth ranked team in any division.
Division odds according to DraftKings Sportsbook:
New York: +350
The Favorite: Dallas (+125 to win the division)
Over/Under Win Total: 10.5
Key Players Re-signed: QB Dak Prescott, CB Jourdan Lewis, DB CJ Goodwin
Key Additions: DL Brent Urban, OT Ty Nsekhe, EDGE Tarell Basham S Keenau Neal
Key Departures: QB Andy Dalton, CB Chidobe Awuzie
Key 2021 Draft Picks: LB Micah Parsons, CB Kelvin Joseph, DT Osa Odighizuwa
Dallas is trying to avoid consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 2002. The 2020 campaign certainly wasn’t the debut season Mike McCarthy envisioned when he was named the Cowboys’ coach a year ago. America’s team finished 6-10 with their star quarterback Dak Prescott being lost to injury early in the season. But even when Dak was healthy, things weren’t all rainbows and sunshine, mainly thanks to an abysmal defense. Dallas’s defense was woeful all year, finishing 23rd in defensive DVOA. Jerry Jones addressed some of those needs during the draft as Dallas spent its first five draft picks on defensive players. New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has some work to do. He does have linebackers who can fly to the ball in rookie Micah Parsons, Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Keanu Neal is a big upgrade at safety and he is familiar with Quinn’s system.
I think Dallas’s key to success is getting running back Ezekiel Elliott back into form. Elliott averaged 107.4 total yards per game, with six touchdowns, over five games with Prescott under center. But Elliott averaged less than 3.5 yards per carry, 78 total yards, and scored just twice over the final 10 games without Prescott. With Dak reinstated in this offense (we're assuming he's healthy until we hear anything definitively otherwise), Dallas should have a top five offense in the NFL. Tyron Smith coming back to anchor on the blind side of the offensive line should help Dak stay upright. Dallas’s explosive offense should make up for a sub par defense. Health and availability will be the biggest concern for this team.
I think Mike McCarthy's club is deservedly favored to win this division. It’s kind of a crap shoot and they definitely have the most talent. The Cowboys have two tough games out of the gate opening on the road against the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then travel cross country to play the Chargers in their first game at Sofi Stadium in front of fans. The Cowboys schedule is pretty favorable from that point forward.
If Dallas starts 0-2 and national panic begins to sink in, I’ll hop on them at a favorable price.
Washington (+260 to win the division)
Over/under win total: 8.5
Key Players Re-signed: OG Brandon Scherff (franchise tag), QB Kyle Allen Key Additions: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WR Curtis Samuel
Key Departures: QB Alex Smith, DE Ryan Kerrigan
Key 2021 Draft Picks: LB Jamin Davis, OT Samuel Cosmi, WR Dyami Brown
After a dismal 2-7 start, The Washington Football team caught fire late winning five out its last seven games to claim the division with a 7-9 record. Washington had a revolving door at quarterback after the team benched Dwayne Haskins, with four guys in total getting starts under center.
Instead, the Washington was carried by its elite defense, which ranked overall in DVOA. Edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan has departed in free agency, but the front seven led by Chase Young should continue to cause havoc in offensive backfields.
The huge question mark for this team is who is going to start under center. Washington signed Ryan Fitzpatrick in the offseason. The longtime veteran will battle Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen for the starting job. Washington gets a first place schedule and will have to face six playoff teams from last season. Adding Curtis Samuel in free agency and drafting Dyami Brown gives the offense a boost in explosiveness.
Washington has the best coach and best defense in the division, but the uncertainty at quarterback and hard schedule turns me off.
The team’s win total at 8.5 is pretty spot on. I see Washington finishing as an 8-9 or 9-8 win team.
New York (+350 to win the division)
Over/under win total: 7 (over juiced to -130)
Key Players Re-signed: DE Leonard Williams, OT Nate Solder, NT Austin Johnson
Key Additions: WR Kenny Golladay, WR John Ross III, RB Devontae Booker, CB Adoree’ Jackson, TE Kyle Rudolph
Key Departures: RB Wayne Gallman, QB Colt McCoy, WR Golden Tate
Key 2021 Draft Picks: WR Kadarius Toney, LB Adze Ojulari, CB Aaron Robinson
Despite a 6-10 record, New York was a team that sort of eclipsed expectations last season. Joe Judge proved he is a competent coach. They had the ninth ranked scoring defense; they finished 19th overall in DVOA. Not bad for a unit that was projected to be near the bottom of the league last season.
On offense, this team was greatly affected by the absence of Saquon Barkley. New York finished last in the NFL in explosive play percentage, second to last in scoring and yards per play, and was ranked 26th overall in offensive DVOA. Daniel Jones did not make the big sophomore leap Giants fans wanted. But there were slight improvements in his game. The turnover woes need to be taken care of, but having one of the best running backs in the league beside him should help that. Also, the Giants signed Kenny Golladay in the offseason to give Jones a true number one threat on the outside. Drafting speedster Kadarius Toney should help stretch the field and compliments Darius Slayton’s game underneath. The addition of Kyle Rudolph gives the Giants a legit one-two tight end combo and it should allow them to run and use play action out of 12 personnel.
Point being, the Giants improved their roster more than any other team in the offseason. In order for those moves to be fruitful, Daniel Jones has to emerge as a top tier quarterback. That is the question that remains to be answered among Giants fans. I’m a believer in Joe Judge and I think the Giants have a chance to be a true darkhorse in this division. The offense should improve and I know I’m going to get a solid coached defense every week.
I’m betting their win total is over 7 and sprinkle on +350 to win the division.
The pick: New York OVER 7 wins
Lean : Giants +350 to win the division
Philadelphia (+500 to win the division)
Over/Under Win Total: 6.5
Key Players Re-signed: C Jason Kelce, LB Alex Singleton, DE Brandon Graham
Key Additions: DE Ryan Kerrigan, RB Kerryon Johnson, S Anthony Harris
Key Departures: WR Alshon Jeffery, WR DeSean Jackson, S Jalen Mills
Key 2021 Draft Picks: WR DeVonta Smith, C Landon Dickerson, CB Zech McPhearson
Philadelphia is easily the toughest team to figure out of this bunch. They got blessed with the third easiest schedule in the league. There are questions around who is going to start at quarterback, but the whole league is assuming it's going to be Jalen Hurts. It’s distasteful how the season ended when former coach Doug Pederson pulled Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter of their season finale. Add in a new head coach, Nick Sirianni, and the Eagles will have plenty of questions to answer this season.
Last season, the Eagles were dysfunctional on both sides of the ball. They gave up 26 points per game on the defensive end. Offensively they led the league in turnovers and were inefficient moving the ball finishing 28th in offensive DVOA. I think Hurts should help with the turnover part, but does this offense have the ability to be explosive with him under center? He has an underwhelming supporting cast with Travis Fulgram returning as his top receiver.
However, there is still a ton of talent on this roster, and a lot of the core from the 2018 Super Bowl run is still intact. So there can be some value present at +500 if Jalen Hurts blossoms into a competent starter. There are too many question marks about everyone around Hurts and I’m not buying into Sirianni right away. There will be better value plays throughout the year.
Lean: Under 6.5 wins
Austin Montgomery is Aaron Torres Online's pro football gambling expert. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @AMontgomeryLive