NFC East Preview | Should the Cowboys be the favorite in the NFC East?
Long before last season, the NFC East was one of the best divisions in all of football. Historically, they still are one of the best in football history. Keep reading and check out our NFC East Preview!
The Cowboys have 5 Super Bowls and the Giants have 4 Super Bowls to their name thanks to two years of Eli Manning heroics. The Washington Football Team is right behind them with 3 Super Bowls under head coach Joe Gibbs, and the Eagles captured their first just a few years ago.
Flashforward to the 2020 NFL season. Every team finished under .500, and the Washington Football team was atop of the division with a 7-9 record. This earned them the moniker of NFC Least, something that had been thrown around in years past, but now it was truly earned.
NFC East Preview – Key Additions and Factors
Heading into the 2021 season, things look a bit different for all teams coming off their struggling 2020 seasons. Dallas will have their franchise QB back in Dak Prescott after fracturing his ankle last year in Week 5.
They also picked up game-changing linebacker Micah Parsons with their 12th overall draft pick.
Washington made some huge offseason additions, adding wide receiver Curtis Samuel to pair with Ohio State teammate Terry Mclaurin. They also added Ryan Fitzpatrick to their QB competition that includes playoff hero Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen.
On the defensive end, they signed top corner William Jackson III, and drafter linebacker Jamin Davis out of Kentucky with their top pick.
Pro Football Focus has them ranked as the fourth most improved team heading into 2021.
The Giants also made their fair share of moves, signing WR Kenny Golladay and drafting Karadirus Toney to pair with him. They also added speedster corner Adoree Jackson in Free agency to bolster their already strong secondary.
Saquon Barkley will also be returning from his torn ACL that kept him out for all of last season.
For the Eagles, they might’ve made the biggest move of all teams, trading QB Carson Wentz. They sent their former 2nd overall draft pick to Indianapolis in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick (ended up trading again), and a conditional 2021 first-round pick.
In the draft, they added Heisman winner Devonta Smith, who will immediately come onto the team as the top target for presumed starter Jalen Hurts.
They also got rid of former head coach Doug Pederson who led them to a Super Bowl and hired his replacement Nick Sirianni.
Sirianni was offensive coordinator of the Colts under Frank Reich, who helped bring Philly their first Super Bowl as their offensive coordinator in 2017.
There is immense value in betting on this division for one singular reason.
Every sportsbook in the country has “America’s team” listed as the betting favorites coming into this season (+110 on FanDuel)
You may ask why wouldn’t they be? They get back star QB Dak Prescott, the majority of their team is returning, and they look poised to be healthy after an injury-prone 2020.
However, the sportsbooks and fans seem to forget two things.
They were 1-3 prior to Dak’s injury, and defense wins football games.
Dallas had historically one of the worst defenses in 2020. They allowed the most points in franchise history with 473, and the second-most yards with 6,183 total.
What did Dallas do to address their defensive woes? They drafted Micah Parsons, signed Keanu Neal, and drafted defense throughout much of the 2020 draft. But these drafted players are unproven and will need time to adjust, so the lack of additions concerns me.
Especially when you consider what they also lost. They lost two pass rushers in Tyrone Crawford (retired) and Aldon Smith (FA), longtime linebacker Sean Lee retired, and safety Xavier Woods left for the Vikings.
I don’t see a possible outcome where the Cowboys are vastly improved on the defensive end. Yes, Dak will keep them in games, but when the defense is giving up yards and points nearly every possession, it is hard to keep up.
My money is on the second favorite Washington Football Team (+260 on FanDuel)
Their defense was already one of the top units in the league led by edge rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat. Now you add Jamin Davis to the back of that front 7, and pair William Jackson III with Kendall Fuller in the secondary. You are looking at possibly the best defense in football, for sure top 3.
The question mark that hangs over Washington is the quarterback position. Will they hand the keys to Taylor Heinicke who has returned to training camp and has wowed the coaches, or will they run with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick?
Much like Dallas with Dak Prescott, this defense will keep Washington in games this entire year, which is the major reason for their division win last year. While Fitzpatrick, Heinicke, and Allen don’t sound like the greatest QB competition, it certainly beats what Washington had to deal with last season.
Dwayne Haskins was a mess, Kyle Allen suffered a broken leg, and Alex Smith made a historic comeback, but simply couldn’t produce to his normal level on seemingly one leg.
This Washington team has something brewing, they just need to find the man who will lead them on the offensive end.
If you are feeling risky, the Giants pose some good value at +400. Saquon Barkley is returning, their defense was one of the most improved of the 2020 season, and they made the necessary moves in the offseason to get Daniel Jones more weapons.
I like them to finish ahead of the Cowboys in this division barring any injuries or a horrific season from Daniel Jones.
The bottom dwellers are the Eagles and that should come as no surprise. They finished last in 2020 at 4-11-1, and they failed to make any organization-changing moves. Yes, they dealt Carson Wentz, but only to replace him with in-house Jalen Hurts, who has still yet to prove he can lead a winning football team.
Their odds to win the division are at +550.
Final Betting Thoughts
In no way is it smart to bet the house on one singular team to win this division. The division win has changed hands every year since 2004, and this is one of the most highly competitive divisions in all of football no matter the strength of the team.
However, I do think Washington is poised to become the first repeat division winner since the Eagles in the early 2000’s.
They are the most balanced team on paper with weapons on the offensive and defensive end, and they have the best coach in the division in Ron Rivera.
Washington at +260 is great value and a bet that is hard to pass upon.