Today begins my journey through the six divisions of the National Football League as I look at the odds for each and give you my winner. First up, the NFC East.
Philadelphia Eagles +125 – The Eagles made the playoffs in Head Coach Chip Kelly’s first season and it wasn’t behind Michael Vick who is now with the Jets. It was behind Nick Foles who played tremendously and got the Eagles a home playoff game where they were beaten by the New Orleans Saints. Gone from the team is DeSean Jackson who is now with the rival Redskins.
To make up for his numbers the Eagles brought in Darren Sproles who should provide an amazing compliment to LeSean McCoy. If the defense improves, the Eagles could be viable contenders in the NFC. The schedule features the AFC South and NFC West so it’s the extremes in that case.
Record prediction: 10-6
New York Giants +300 – The Giants have missed the playoffs the last two seasons and I for one thought Tom Coughlin would be out of a job after they started 0-6 last season. Coughlin is back but things are different on the offensive side of the ball where more of a West Coast offense is installed. It’s really pretty simple for there; Eli Manning has to take care of the football a lot better than he has in recent years.
Jason Pierre-Paul looked good in the team’s first two preseason games and that’s good because they need him to anchor the defensive line. The secondary is upgraded and should be better as well. The G-Men get Indianapolis, San Francisco and Arizona at home but do have to go to Seattle. If the running game is clicking then good things are on the horizon.
Record Prediction: 9-7
Washington Redskins +375 – The ‘Skins welcome new head coach Jay Gruden whose number one job is keeping Robert Griffin III healthy. We shouldn’t see nearly as much read-option if any at all which means RGIII is going to be more of a pocket passer. What will help that transition is Alfred Morris running the ball well again. DeSean Jackson should help balance the offense as well.
Defensively, there is plenty of talent on that side of the ball but it can’t be utilized unless the front seven can get to the quarterback. Trent Murphy, defensive end from Stanford should help in that department. The second half of the schedule is brutal with trips to Indianapolis, San Francisco and the Giants but they do finish with Dallas and Philly at home.
Record Projection: 8-8
Dallas Cowboys +400 – If I had looked at the Cowboys back in the spring I might have said this team had a chance to compete in the NFC East but then Sean Lee was lost for the season and then Orlando Scandrick was suspended for four games. Toss in a few other injuries and you’ve got a defense that could rival last year’s in terms of ineptness.
Offensively, the Cowboys will ride only as far as Tony Romo can take them and I think his health is a serious question mark. Jason Garrett knows they have to run the ball to keep Romo healthy and his defense off the field. The question is, will he be able to do that? It’ll be tough with all the ‘toys’ that Romo has to play with but if he wants to win, he’ll have to.
Dallas has a favorable schedule with only a trip to Seattle being the toughest out of division road trip.
Record Projection: 6-10
Overall Thoughts: I don’t know how you can go in any other direction here other than the Eagles. I can see a scenario where the Giants start pounding opponents with their running game but I don’t think it’ll be enough.