NFC East Futures – Picks & Analysis

by | Aug 8, 2019 | nfl

NFL Futures - Who’ll Rule the Roost in NFC East?
Wentz’s health, Elliott’s holdout are two glaring factors.

The NFC East is a logical place to start if you want to preview divisional races in the NFL. All four teams are among the ten most valuable in the league, according to Forbes’ annual survey. And in a recent Emory University study, the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants were ranked first, third and fourth, respectively, in terms of the size of their fan base.

Clearly, there is a lot of attention on all four squads. But do more than two of them have a legitimate shot at getting to the post-season? We’ll take a look at each situation, including the futures odds as they are posted by the people at VietBet.

Eagles Are “All-In” on Wentz

2018 Record: 9-7
Odds to Win Super Bowl: +1100 (11-1)
Odds to Win NFC Title: +600
Odds to Win NFC East: -130
Regular Season Wins: 10 (Over -125, Under +105) *Odds from VietBet

Look - they invested in Carson Wentz when they reached out to take him so early in the draft, and he has yet to start a post-season game for them. At this point, they are all-in, with a new deal for four years and $128 million, including $107.9 million in guaranteed money. So he better stay healthy, and he had better produce. There is no more safety net with Nick Foles, who wanted his opportunity to start and took a deal with Jacksonville.

That’s why it’s kind of distressing to hear rumors about various “anonymous” players who expressed that Wentz was not the best leader or decision-maker. The good news is that the offense would win up better, although a few things must definitely fall into place.

The ground game might become deep again. Jordan Howard, who came in a trade with Chicago, is Pro Bowl-level. And he can handle a heavy load. Miles Sanders, who was drafted in the second round from Penn State, can become a major contributor. That leaves people like Josh Adams, Corey Clement, and Wendell Smallwood, who could provide a change of pace. If DeSean Jackson, who has come back to the City of Brotherly Love, can be a breakaway threat, the Eagles won’t miss Golden Tate and Jordan Matthews as much. Jackson averaged almost 19 yards a catch for Tampa Bay last year. And tight end Zach Ertz caught 116 passes.

Philadelphia suffered coverage problems last season, finishing 30th against the pass. But injuries took their toll on the secondary. On the positive side, this team was the second-best in the league at stopping opponents in the red zone. And what was a damn good defensive front, with a “stuff rate” (no gain or loss) on almost 26% of running plays, may get even better, as Pro Bowl performer Malik Jackson joins Fletcher Cox in the middle.

Let’s be honest; if Wentz goes down to injury, the Eagles are in trouble, as the unproven Nate Sudfeld is the backup QB. But otherwise, they are pretty solid. They have a very resourceful coach in Doug Pederson. They do an excellent job of controlling the clock. And there’s no reason to believe Ertz can’t continue being uber-productive.

Total Wins Conclusion: If you had a gun to my head, I’d say “over,” but only because there’s less uncertainty here than elsewhere in the division.

Cowboys Better Hope Zeke’s Ready in September

2018 Record: 10-6 Odds to Win Super Bowl: +2800 (28-1) Odds to Win NFC Title: +1300 Odds to Win NFC East: +162 Regular Season Wins: 9 (Under -120, Over +100) *Odds from VietBet

The Cowboys won the NFC East last year behind another terrific effort from Ezekiel Elliott, who ran for 1434 yards. They got to the second round of the playoffs, but we all know that nothing short of the Super Bowl is going to satisfy Jerry Jones. Whether Dallas has made enough in the way of fortification is enough to get them there is doubtful. Randall Cobb will replace Cole Beasley in the receiver corps, and head coach Jason Garrett is hopeful that Michael Gallup can make a leap as a second-year man, joining Amari Cooper.

A couple of guys are on the comeback trail. Travis Frederick, perhaps the best center in the game, had to sit out all of last season with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, but he intends to be back in the lineup. And after a season in the Monday Night Football booth, Jason Witten comes back from retirement and could ultimately get at least half the snaps at tight end.

The defense is definitely playoff-caliber. And the D has a great linebacking corps with Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch (an All-Pro as a rookie) and Sean Lee, who is like a coach on the field - when healthy, that is. They hope that newly-acquired Robert Quinn can make for a useful bookend tandem with Demarcus Lawrence when it comes to rushing the passer.

As for Randy Gregory, who is on indefinite suspension, he intends to play this year but has not yet applied for reinstatement. He has been suspended four times thus far, the latest in February.

Dak Prescott is more than respectable behind center, although the Cowboys are not going to get to the Super Bowl on the strength of his arm. That much was demonstrated when Elliott was sitting out his suspension in 2017. So they’re primarily dependent upon Zeke. You might ask what more can he do. The answer, at the moment, is that he can simply show up; he is seeking a new contract and was holding out of training camp. Very few players are as important to their team as he is.

The feeling here is that Dallas is still not quite ready to get over the hump, particularly if Philadelphia can improve on what it did last year. And if Elliott has to miss any time, they’ll lose a lot of valuable ground.

Total Wins Conclusion: Hard to tell, but if they get Elliott into the fold, as expected, you should get at least a push with the “over.”

Redskins Seek a Real Trigger-Man

2018 Record: 7-9
Odds to Win Super Bowl: +15000 (150-1)
Odds to Win NFC Title: +6250
Odds to Win NFC East: +1075
Regular Season Wins: 6 (Under -112, Over -108) *Odds from VietBet

What you have to ask yourself with the Washington Redskins is whether Adrian Peterson, at age 34, is going to be in any kind of position to get close to the 1042-yard performance he had last season. Granted, he will have some help in the backfield this season, as Derrius Guice, who tore his ACL in the first pre-season game of 2018, is back in camp and looking good. Will Peterson want to share carries? It’s been suggested that he won’t, but the arrangement will best for both men. And keep an eye on Bryce Love, who’s had knee surgery but was an awesome sight at Stanford when 100% healthy.

Quarterback Alex Smith might never play again, and the Redskins prepared themselves for that as best they could. Colt McCoy knows Jay Gruden’s system, but he’s not a starting NFL quarterback. Case Keenum looked like an MVP candidate two years ago with Minnesota, but on an overall basis, he’s been mediocre, by NFL standards. Dwayne Haskins, the first-round pick out of Ohio State, has the size and the arm, but he is raw and has to learn the system, so he’s not likely to contribute right away. Therefore, the QB situation has the potential to bring this program down.

The defense was middle-of-the-road last season, and cornerback Josh Norman has lost a step. But there has been something of an infusion. Montez Sweat was taken in the first round, and he has the makings of a big-time NFL pass-rusher. Linebacker Reuben Foster, who had his share of off-the-field problems, gets a second chance. And it might just be that they overpaid for excitable free agent safety Landon Collins in the hope that he would be able to light a fire under this unit.

It’s likely that the offense, which aside from the QB dilemma is tight end-biased and doesn’t have the most threatening collection of wideouts, will hold this team back in the end.

Total Wins Conclusion: With nothing that special in the offense, would lean toward an “under” here.

Giants Might Have to Handle the “Eli Situation”

2018 Record: 5-11 Odds to Win Super Bowl: +15500 (155-1) Odds to Win NFC Title: +6600 Odds to Win NFC East: +1700 Regular Season Wins: 5.5 (Over -133, Under +113) *Odds from VietBet

Dave Gettleman, general manager of the New York Giants, has been trying to change the “culture” around the team’s building. But that has resulted in more news about players going out the door than the other way around. With the departure of Odell Beckham Jr., the team loses a home run threat, and no one can really replace him. Safety Landon Collins has left as well, and the team will have a new duo there with Antoine Bethea and Jabrill Peppers. There were three first-round picks; Deandre Baker might start at a corner spot. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence is a guy who may need to develop.

The most talked-about first-rounder, though, was quarterback Daniel Jones, who won’t be rushed into the lineup. But the future has to start somewhere, and what will be most curious is to see whether Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmer will give him a chance to step in and play if the Giants wind up disappearing from the playoff race. They didn’t provide Davis Webb that opportunity a couple of years ago, in deference to Eli Manning. But Webb wasn’t the sixth pick the draft.

Golden Tate ostensibly takes the place of Beckham, but he is suspended for the first four games, and as of this writing, he is appealing to the league. It is likely that Manning, who is much better reaching tight ends and running backs than his wide receivers (as per Pro Football Focus) will make TE Evan Engram a primary target. So this could be his breakout season. Saquon Barkley had 2028 combined rushing-receiving yards as a rookie, but they don’t want to wear him out before they have a chance to contend.

We’re expecting that a defense that couldn’t crack the Top 20 last year is not going to be able to keep the Giants in enough ballgames.

Total Wins Conclusion: It’s potentially ugly here. We can see them landing on five wins again, and the situation with the rookie QB and Manning could alter this final result. Right now, it looks like an “under” at +113.

Collins Will Add Spice to Giants-Redskins Rivalry

Landon Collins, the former All-Pro safety who left the New York Giants for the Washington Redskins in free agency, is bitter enough about his experience with his prior employer that he promises to show “a lot of aggression” when the ‘Skins play the Giants this season. He’s even gone so far as to mention that he could take a free shot at Gettleman in pre-game warmups. Now THAT’s bad blood, so stay tuned for what happens.

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