The NFC East is a tricky division. You have four teams that probably matched evenly as any division in the league. Each of these teams has the ability to have a breakout season, the same way each of them can completely bomb out and shit on themselves from the get-go. So yeah, this is a tough one.
Much tougher than any other preview I’ve made so far.
Is Eagles QB Nick Foles the real deal?
Don’t be fooled by Foles’ physical similarities to Napoloen Dynamite because the man can play quarterback. Okay, he’s probably not in the elite level as Brees, Brady and Manning but if he continues to post seasons of hitting for 27 touchdowns for only two interceptions, those conservations might start having some weight into them.
The Philadelphia Eagles are an interesting case of arguably being the most talented underachieving team in a division full of underachievers. Just look at the win totals for all NFC East teams later and you’ll see why the division could be a nightmare to bet on. However, Foles and the Eagles are probably better equipped than the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins to come out on top. Only the Giants have a better strength of schedule (.465) than the Eagles (.479).
All this talk will be moot if Foles is as good as he was last season. If he is, then the Eagles should fly away with the division. If he isn’t, then the division is wide open.
Can the Dallas Cowboys finally be better than mediocre?
8-8. 8-8. 8-8. No, that’s not some kind of new binary code I invented. That’s the regular season record of the Dallas Cowboys in the past three seasons. You might as well just spell it out as m-e-d-i-o-c-r-e. I still can’t get it out my head how many times the Cowboys play below their perceived talent. I mean, has there ever any team this talented that has missed the playoffs in the past three years because of late-game collapses?
I’ve never been a big believer in the Cowboys and this season isn’t any different. They lost many key defensive players from last season. You know, the same season where they finished with the most historically awful defense in history. Add those two together and is it possible that the Cowboys D will be even worse this year? For the sake of those who live and breathe Dallas blue, I sure hope not. But even if Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense make up for the D’s inadequacies, you know what that adds up to?
Yep. Another 8-8 season.
Which Eli Manning will the New York Giants see this season?
When Eli Manning’s at his best, he’s capable of winning Super Bowls. When he’s at his worst, he’s capable of throwing some of the worst interceptions in the league. Manning has said all the right things in training camp about enjoying the new offense implemented by new coordinator ben McAdoo. But I’m not buying the Giants stock to win anything this season unless I see Eli take care of the ball better and the offensive line take care of its quarterback better. For now, the jury’s still out on which Eli we’ll see this year, but I do expect a bounce back year for Eli and the G-Men. I mean, there’s no way they start the season 0-6 again, right? Right?
Are the Washington Redskins better or worse than advertised?
Robert Griffin III is fully healthy for the first time since the 2012–2013 season. He also has a new coach and a new offensive coordinator to work with after butting heads with the previous regime. Those two things should make the Redskins much better than they were last season. The question is how RGIII can translate new coach Jay Gruden’s offensive schemes into a potent machine on the field. He has some new toys to play with now that Pierre Garcon and Alfred Morris are also back in the field. Oh, DeSean Jackson is also a Redskin now. That should be good for a couple of deep balls every game.
The Redskins are a tough team to get a hold of because of the questions they need to answer. I want to say that they’ll be better last year because, really, how much worse can a 3-13 season get. But they’re not going to be as good as some people may think. A 9-7 season is potentially in the cars, which should be good enough to contend for the division title.
This is how close—or mediocre—this division is. The Eagles are the team with the most wins projected at 9. Yep. 9. Meanwhile, the Cowboys and the Giants both have over/under win totals of 8. Then there’s the Redskins at 7.5. Can it get any closer than that?
Unless the Dallas line moves, that 8 over/under looks like a duck. I’m not touching that. The Eagles at 9 could be attainable depending on how Year 2 of Foles and Kelly works. The Giants winning eight games seems like a tall order but it’s also attainable if Manning returns to the guy who throws more TD’s than picks. Finally, the Redskins at 7.5 wins looks like an invitation to take the over.
You know what, it’s probably the safest bet to make when it comes to win totals in the NFC East.
To Win the Division
This is probably the only division where there aren’t any real favorites to run away with the division. At this point, the Eagles take that distinction at 7/5 odds, followed by the Giants at 5/2, and the Cowboys and Redskins at 7/2 apiece. The best way to approach this is to hold off on making any bets and see how the first few weeks of the season play out. You might even get good value if a team like Philly starts slow and turns it on later in the season. That’s how I’d approach it because at this point, picking a division winner in the NFC East is like flipping a four-sided coin…if such a thing even exists.
Again, the Eagles are the favorites, presumably by default at 20/1 odds. The Giants are next at 40/1 and the Cowboys and Redskins are at 50/1. Here’s the thing: the NFC isn’t the AFC. This conference is ridiculously stacked that a potential division winner and automatic playoff participant can enter the season as 20/1 odds to win the Super Bowl. If these teams played in the AFC, I guarantee their odds would drop significantly. Unfortunately, they’re not only in the same conference as the Seattle Seahawks, they’re also in the same conference as the San Francisco 49ers, the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers.
Predicted Order of Finish
I’m predicting Foles to fall back to earth about a record-setting run last year. That means the Eagles won’t be as good as they were last year. I’m already on the record about the Cowboys’ continued run of mediocrity. That leaves the Giants and the Redskins. I like the Washington’s potential more than New York, but you can’t argue against the fact that the Eli Manning-Tom Coughlin combination is due for a bounce back year. Sign me up on the Giants bandwagon then!
1. New York