2014 Odds to Win NFC East with Picks and NFL Predictions
by Dave Schwab - 7/30/2014
The NFL is just weeks away from the start of a new season, and I have come to the end of the line with my trip around the league previewing and making predictions for each of the eight division races with the help of BetOnline's NFL futures odds. My final stop on this tour takes me to the division that is most near and dear to my heart; the NFC East.
Philadelphia Eagles Odds to Win the NFC East +130
A year ago Chip Kelly left Oregon as head coach to try and bring his unique, up-tempo style of play to the NFL, and so far this experiment has been a rousing success. The Eagles went from just four wins in Andy Reid's last year at the helm to a 10-6 record and a NFC East title in 2013. The big question heading into Year 2 of the Chip Kelly era in Philadelphia is if his team can take the next step towards winning that elusive Super Bowl title that this city has been so starved for.
The other big question in Philly this year surrounds Nick Foles. The second-year gunslinger took the league by storm last season with 27 touchdowns against just two interceptions, and all indications point towards him being the real deal as a legitimate franchise quarterback in the NFL. He will be without one of his main weapons with the departure of wide receiver DeSean Jackson, but the addition of running back Darren Sproles gives him a new threat out of the backfield. To take that next step, the Eagles are going to need to improve a pass defense that was ranked near the bottom of the league in yards allowed.
New York Giants Odds to Win the NFC East +300
New York was basically out of the 2013 division title race before it ever really began after losing its first six games. The Giants did rally to a 7-9 record, which gives fans some hope that their team can climb back to the top of the NFC East in 2014. Head coach Tom Coughlin has gained a reputation for quick turnarounds to the top of the NFL, with Super Bowl titles in 2007 and 2011, and Eli Manning is still a proven winning quarterback in this league.
The first step the Giants took at rebuilding a passing attack that fell to 19th in the NFL last year was to select wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with the 12 overall pick of the draft. They also added running back Rashad Jennings and offensive lineman Charles Brown as free agents. Defensively, New York was ranked eighth in the NFL in total yards allowed, but it fell all the way to 18th in points allowed. Coughlin used four of his final five draft picks to add some depth on this side of the ball, and he is counting on free agent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to make an immediate impact in the secondary.
Washington Redskins Odds to Win the NFC East +350
Jay Gruden has been brought in as Washington's new head coach in hopes that he can rediscover the form that led to a 10-6 record and NFC East title in 2012. The season before that the Redskins won only five games, and in Mike Shanahan's last year at the helm they sunk to just 3-13. Much of the blame for last season's collapse can be pinned on a defense that slid completely down the rankings to finish 18th in the NFL in total yards allowed and tied for 30th in points allowed.
The other big factor was the play of third-year quarterback Robert Griffin III. As the second overall pick of the 2012 draft, he lit things up right from the start and proceeded to throw for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns while adding another 815 yards and seven scores on the ground. He was less than 100 percent last season after major knee surgery, and it showed with a completion rate of 60.1 percent and 16 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. If he can return to his rookie form then Washington should be right in the mix in the division title race.
Dallas Cowboys Odds to Win the NFC East +400
The Cowboys have been the definition of average in the NFL for a number of seasons, and heading into 2014 they are coming off three straight 8-8 campaigns in which a loss in the final game of the season cost them the division title. To say that team owner Jerry Jones has turned up the heat on fourth-year head coach Jason Garrett would be putting things mildly. Veteran quarterback Tony Romo is also under the gun this season, but the biggest issue he may face is his health after undergoing back surgery at the end of last year.
If Dallas is going to have any chance at actually winning the NFC East this time around, it's going to need a much better effort from a defense that was ranked near the bottom of the league in a number of major categories. It does not help that DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher are no longer with the team and that linebacker Sean Lee was lost for the season with a torn ACL. The Cowboys did add Henry Melton as a free agent from Chicago, and they used seven of nine picks in the draft on this side of the ball, including a second-round pick on defensive end Demarcus Lawrence.
NFC East Picks and Predictions
Philadelphia remains the best overall team in what is one of the more watered-down divisions in the NFL, and my pick to win the NFC East for the second straight season. However, the Eagles will face some stiff competition from New York to actually capture the crown. The Giants' projected win total is set at eight wins, with the moneyline favoring the "over" at -125. I can easily see both teams coming into a Week 17 matchup at MetLife Stadium with nine wins and the division title on the line. The Redskins should get close to .500 with a projected win total of 7.5 games, but Dallas is going in the other direction that should keep the Cowboys below their projected win total of eight games.
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