2018 NFC East Divisional Futures Predictions
The NFC East is always an exciting division, no matter the quality of the teams on the field – there is always fireworks due to the large media markets of these teams and their many outspoken owners, specifically, Cowboys’ owner, Jerry Jones. Oh, and this divisional also has the reigning Super Bowl Champion, Philadelphia Eagles.
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Betting Odds to Win the National Football Conference
- Philadelphia Eagles -150
- Dallas Cowboys +350
- New York Giants +500
- Washington Redskins +800
Philadelphia Eagles -150
The Eagles are coming off an outstanding season where they went 13-3 and won the Super Bowl. The coaching staff remains intact, unsurprisingly. The primary issue is concern about Carson Wentz’s health, but the quarterback should be back in playing shape by Week 3 of the regular season. Until then, they will go with Super Bowl MVP, Nick Foles. Offensively, the Eagles didn’t lose much. Gone is Torrey Smith but replacing him will be veteran speedster and ex-Raven, Mike Wallace. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor will take control of the top receiving spots.
Jeffery is expected to miss at least the first two games. The running back trio will miss LeGarrette Blount, who left in free agency. Jay Ajayi will get most of the early down work, with Corey Clement and Darren Sproles mixing in on passing downs. Defensively, Philly is strong, mostly because of their excellent pass rush. That won’t change, and a healthy Jordan Hicks will likely make it even better, despite the team releasing Mychal Kendricks, who is now under investigation for insider trading. Their safety tandem of Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod are likely the best in the league. Their cornerback group is the only “weakness” of this defense.
Dallas Cowboys +350
It was a down year for Dallas as they went from a 13-3 record in 2016 to a 9-7 record last season. Most notably was the departure of the long-time wide receiver, Dez Bryant, who is still looking for a team. The team cut him in April. Tight end and future Hall of Famer, Jason Witten, also retired. Make no mistake this team is built around offense, and it is Dak Prescott’s and to a lesser extent, Ezekiel Elliot’s team. Dez Bryant was a shell of his former self, but the Cowboys are still weak at receiver.
They signed ex-Jaguar, Allen Hurns, in free agency and brought in former-Ram, Tavon Austin. They will compete with veterans, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley for starters’ reps. Defensively has always been Dallas’ weakness, and that has not changed this season. Their pass rush does have some upside, especially with the breakout of Demarcus Lawrence last season. A healthy Sean Lee for an entire season will help the linebacking group, but we haven’t seen that in several years. The real questions marks surround a revamped secondary.
New York Giants +500
It was a tough 2017 for the Giants, who lost Odell Beckham to injury early in the season, fired their head coach and general manager. Oh, and their 37-year-old quarterback also got benched in the latter part of the season. Former Vikings’ offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, takes over as head coach and isn’t interested in a rebuilding process. He is looking to win now. New York is coming off a 3-13 season, but they were just 11-5 a year earlier. They’ve also locked up Odell Beckham long term, making him the highest paid wide receiver in the league.
Their offense should be potent, as the Giants have plenty of difference makers at skill positions, such as wide receiver, Sterling Shepard and tight end, Evan Engram. They also drafted Penn State running back, Saquon Barkley, second overall in this year’s NFL Draft. Of course, this offense looks good on paper, but it mostly depends on the play of Eli Manning. He’s been a far better quarterback with Odell Beckham on the field, but it wouldn’t be fair to say he’s not one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league. The defense went from one of the best units in 2016 to one of the worst in 2017. New defensive coordinator, James Bettcher, has moved from a 4-3 to a 3-4 in hopes that the G-men can return to their former glory on defense.
Minnesota Vikings +125
The Redskins finally parted ways with Kirk Cousins, as he left in free agency for Minnesota. They traded for ex-Chiefs’ quarterback, Alex Smith, who will now lead their offense. The front office and the coaching staff believe they upgraded at quarterback. They’re banking on quite a bit of improvement from a 7-9 record last season. Washington does have a strong offensive line, which will be essential if they hope to turn things around. Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder return at wide receiver and the team added Paul Richardson in free agency. Jordan Reed is “healthy” again, but it remains to be seen if he can put together a full season without succumbing to injury.
The Redskins selected Derrius Guice out of LSU with their second-round pick, but he tore his ACL in the preseason. The Redskins were strong against the pass with Josh Norman but were awful against the run. They addressed this need in the draft and re-signed Zach Brown, their best run stopper. Their pass defense ranked 9th in the league last season but will be different after losing Bashaud Breeland and others.
2018 NFC East Divisional Pick – Philadelphia Eagles -150
I am not as high as some on the Eagles this season. I am not sure Wentz will regain all his strength from his injuries, but they’re still far and away the best team in this division. They have an elite defense and offense and most importantly, the best head coach in the division. At -150, they’re still a bargain to repeat as NFC East champions.
The Giants are the team that is most intriguing otherwise, but I am not on their defensive improvement. I think they made a huge mistake in not drafting Eli Manning’s heir apparent, as well. Beckham makes him better, but he’s still in deep decline. A change in quarterback would make their 5/1 price a bit more appetizing. Dallas and Washington, to me, are two teams with severely underwhelming rosters and coaches. I do not see them competing in this division. Lay the chalk with Philly.
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