NFC East Odds
NFL analyst Dave Schwab gives an overview of what the NFC East teams added and lost in the offseason along with his opinion on who the teams to beat will be. A recap of last season and where jeff thinks your wagering dollars are best placed.
The current rotation of division winners in the NFC East points to a different team over the past three seasons. The Washington Redskins come in as defending champs, but they are far from being the favored team to win this division in 2016. My job is to try and make sense of the betting odds at BetOnline so here we go with the tightest division race on the 2016 futures board.
Dallas won the NFC East in 2014 at 12-4 with veteran quarterback Tony Romo posting the best overall numbers in his NFL career. A pair of shoulder injuries reduced his playing time to just four games last year and his team plummeted to the bottom of the division at 4-12. The loss of running back DeMarco Murray to free agency before last season also hurt the cause so head coach Jason Garrett decided to plug the biggest hole on offense by selecting former Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick in the draft.
Elliott is already being touted as a top rookie of the year candidate, but he has already been slowed by a hamstring injury in early training camp workouts. The bigger concern could be the loss of talent on the defensive side of the ball. Greg Hardy has been released and Rolando McClain is facing an extended suspension by the NFL for substance abuse. You have to keep in mind that the Cowboys were ranked 16th in the league in points allowed last season even with these two players in the lineup.
Tom Coughlin’s successful 12-year run as the Giants’ head coach finally came to an end following his team’s third-straight losing season in 2015. Ben McAdoo was hired as his replacement and tasked with the mission of turning things around. New York last won the NFC East in 2011 with a record of 9-7 and it went on to win the Super Bowl that year. One of the main architects of that impressive run was quarterback Eli Manning and he remains at the helm entering his 13th season in the league.
The Giants’ passing offense features the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and now the addition of second-round draft pick Sterling Shepard. Manning is also hoping to have a healthy Victor Cruz in the lineup after missing all of last season due to injury. To take its turn in the NFC East title rotation, New York is going to need a much better effort from its running game as well as from a defense that was ranked dead last in the NFL in total yards allowed.
Head coach Jay Gruden decided to give Kirk Cousins the starting nod at quarterback heading into the 2015 regular season in place of an ineffective Robert Griffin III and he made the most of the opportunity by helping to lead his team to a second division title in four seasons with a record of 9-7. The team also got a solid effort from Alfred Morris and Matt Jones running the ball, but Morris is now with the Cowboys leaving Jones as the team’s leading rusher with 490 yards last season.
Washington boosted its passing game by drafting wide receiver Josh Doctson in the first round and it also signed tight end Vernon Davis as a free agent from Denver. Defensively, the Redskins were well down the list in yards allowed last season and Gruden addressed that issue by using four of his next five draft picks on that side of the ball. The big question in my mind is where does Washington go from here? It has the benefit of playing in a weak division, but Gruden is counting on quite a few players to once again exceed their capabilities to produce a winning record.
Chip Kelly is now the head coach in San Francisco after taking the Eagles In the wrong direction following a 10-6 run to a NFC East title in 2013. In his place is Doug Pederson, who studied under the tutelage of longtime Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid (1999 to 2012) as his offensive coordinator in Kansas City. This is a bold experiment that could bring back the winning tradition that Reid enjoyed for most of his tenure in town, or it could signal the start of a major step backwards for a franchise that is still starved for a NFL title.
It remains to be seen how much playing time rookie quarterback Carson Wentz will see this season as the second overall pick of the 2016 draft, so for now Sam Bradford is penciled-in as the starter. The biggest turnaround this season could be on defense with Jim Schwartz taking over as defensive coordinator. The Eagles were one of the worst defenses in the league last season in a number of major categories so it really has no place to go but up.
The early money has been on the Cowboys as slight favorites, but Romo is just one hard sack away from another shoulder injury. The Redskins will have a hard time defending last season’s division title and Philadelphia is still a few years away from possibly turning things around. This all adds up to New York taking its turn in the rotation by winning the NFC East at 9-7.
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