- At least on paper, the Eagles look even better positioned to take the NFC East title than they did last season. But with +650 odds to win the divisional crown, the Giants are closer to contention than many may realize.
The defending champion Eagles still have everything in place, and they bring back Carson Wentz for another run at MVP. The Cowboys are suddenly full of question marks in the passing game; how far can that vaunted rushing attack and reinforced defense carry them in 2018? The Giants added a new dimension to their offense with Saquon Barkley, and get Odell Beckham Jr. back in the lineup. The pass rush must re-emerge, though. And Washington turns things over to Alex Smith, who will not have nearly the talent he worked with in Kansas City.
Odds to Win NFC East:
New York Giants +650
Pick to win NFC East: Philadelphia
Best NFC East value: New York Giants +650
Regular Season Wins Prop: OVER 10 (-130) / UNDER 10 (+110)
OFFENSE: So far indications are that Carson Wentz, the MVP frontrunner before tearing his ACL in Week 14, will be ready for Week 1. Wentz’s ability to extend plays and make tough throws late in the down are two traits that make him special. The offensive line is fantastic, allowing Philly to run a diverse and expansive set of rushing plays. Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery are atop a deep skill-position group that can create mismatches in a number of ways.
DEFENSE: Philly’s defensive line is dominant. Fletcher Cox may be the NFL’s most underrated player, and Brandon Graham, Tim Jernigan and Derek Barnett would be the stars of many teams’ front sevens. The additions of former Pro Bowlers Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata as rotational depth are a nightmare for opposing O-lines. Rookie corner Sidney Jones (who would’ve been a 2017 first-rounder if not for a season-ending injury) provides another upgrade.
BOTTOM LINE: It is rare for the Super Bowl champions to enter the following season with a better roster, but Philadelphia has done just that. Its MVP-caliber QB is back under center, and the team has only added firepower to its smothering defense. The Eagles will be very tough to beat. OVER 10
2018 Regular Season Wins Prop: OVER 8 (-160) / UNDER 8 (+140)
OFFENSE: With a tremendous offensive line and star RB Ezekiel Elliott running behind it, Dallas will continue to lean on its productive ground attack. Dak Prescott developed nicely in his second season, but his receivers rarely created separation. With the loss of both Dez Bryant and future Hall of Famer Jason Witten, the passing game could be an all-out disaster in 2018. The WR and TE depth charts are a who’s who of third-string talent, which could make for a long season for Prescott.
DEFENSE: Dallas’ defense was great when Sean Lee was on the field last year, allowing 16.0 PPG in games he played (and 29.0 PPG when he was hurt). The Cowboys hope first-round draft pick Leighton Vander Esch thrives as Lee’s understudy at linebacker. DeMarcus Lawrence tallied 14.5 sacks last year and DL David Irving (seven sacks in eight games) has a chance to be special if he can get his personal life in order after serving a four-game PED suspension.
BOTTOM LINE: If Lee stays healthy and Elliott, Lawrence and Irving stay out of trouble, Dallas will at least have a team that can defend and run its way to some grind-it-out victories. But the lack of offensive weapons besides Elliott will be problematic in what could be a very tough division. UNDER 8
New York Giants
Regular Season Wins Prop: OVER 7 (-130) / UNDER 7 (+110)
OFFENSE: Former head coach Ben McAdoo and his ineffective iso/spread offense have been replaced by new head coach (and 2017 AP NFL Assistant Coach of the Year) Pat Shurmur. Shurmur will surely be more creative with star wideout Odell Beckham and keep defenses honest against him by utilizing athletic tight end Evan Engram and No. 2 receiver Sterling Shepard. And No. 2 pick Saquon Barkley projects as the best Giants running back in at least a decade.
DEFENSE: Many pieces remain from New York’s stellar 2016 defense, and new coordinator James Bettcher will get the most out of his stars. Safety Landon Collins is a dynamic playmaker and corner Janoris Jenkins is hard to beat when his head is on right. Damon “Snacks” Harrison is a run-stuffer along the defensive line while defensive end Olivier Vernon sets the edge on running plays as well as anyone. Former Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree greatly improves a previously awful linebacking unit.
BOTTOM LINE: With a healthy star wideout, a dynamic young runner and a great offensive mind taking over at head coach, there is no excuse for Eli Manning to have another mediocre season. Bettcher will have the defense playing at a high level, and the G-Men should bounce back in a big way. OVER 7
Regular Season Wins Prop: OVER 7 (+120) / UNDER 7 (-140)
OFFENSE: Head coach Jay Gruden gets the most out of his offenses, and it’s unlikely that Washington would have acquired quarterback Alex Smith if Gruden didn’t think he could run the team effectively. TE Jordan Reed dominates on the rare occasions he actually plays, but Washington has one of the weakest skill-position units in the league—certainly a downgrade from what Smith had in Kansas City—and losing rookie RB Derrius Guice to a torn ACL isn't going to help.
DEFENSE: Washington showed some improvement in coordinator Greg Manusky’s first season, but parted with promising, young corners Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland in the offseason. Linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Zach Brown are solid, and there’s hope for improvement up front with the addition of first-round pick Da’Ron Payne and the healthy return of 2017 first-rounder Jonathan Allen—who missed 11 games with a foot injury last season.
BOTTOM LINE: Washington’s roster just doesn’t stack up in the NFC East, and is one of the weakest in the entire conference. It’s difficult to imagine the offense being significantly better with Smith replacing Kirk Cousins, and the defense figures to be middling, at best. UNDER 7