*To get us ready for the NFL season, I will be going division by division talking about what to look for from an overall view, a fantasy view, and a gambling view. I can hear the pads cracking already..enjoy!*
Editor’s note: DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) is a statistical measurement used by footballoutsiders.com that measures efficiency by comparing success on every play to a league average based on the situation and the opponent
Last season finished standings:
Dallas Cowboys 10-6
Philadelphia Eagles 9-7
Washington Redskins 7-9
New York Giants 5-11
Over the last 15 years, there has not been a repeat champion in the NFC East, and since 2002, the division has failed to send 2 teams to the big dance only 3 times, and that is significant considering the dumpster fire that the Redskins have resembled in that time frame. Last year, both the Cowboys and the Eagles were bounced in the Divisional round, and this year both of those teams are looking for more.
Philadelphia Eagles – Over/Under 10 wins; -110 to win the NFC East; 14.5/1 to win the Super Bowl
Fantasy Players to watch: Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, Desean Jackson
Outlook: This team is loaded on the offensive end, and even that may not do it justice. Led by MVP-hopeful Carson Wentz, the receiving punch of Ertz and Jeffery was only made stronger with the addition of Desean Jackson, and the growth of second year tight end Dallas Goedert. A little side note about D-Jax: QB’s who play with him have seen a competition % bump of 7%, and improve their TD-to-INT ratio by .65 when he is on the field. Basically, he blows the roof off defenses, and all those short/intermediate routes become a little more open.
The backfield is anyone’s guess, as all of Jordan Howard, rookie Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles, Josh Adams, and Corey Clement could see playing time. Howard seems to be the lead, but don’t be surprised if Sanders gets his fair share of carries, as he is an explosive back that could help a running game that ranked 27th last year. Part of this was due to the O-line needs to improve, as they ranked 19th last year by football outsiders. Part of this was due to injury, as the Eagles were the 2nd-most injury-impacted team in the NFL last season. Defensively, they will need to replace guys like Michael Bennett (Patriots) and Chris Long (retired), but their shamble of a secondary should be able to stay healthier than last season, and Malik Jackson to play alongside Fletcher Cox, who should be able to win the 1 on 1’s Cox opens up for him. Even with the injuries, this is a defense that finished 15th in the league. Add that all with one of the easiest schedules for the 2019 season, and the Eagles look like a real Super Bowl contender to me.
Dallas Cowboys – Over/Under 9 wins; +145 to win the NFC East; 28/1 to win the Super Bowl
Fantasy Players to watch: Amari Cooper, ZEEEEEEEEEKE
Outlook: It seems to be the same story with the Cowboys year after year – talent does not come without drama. Now, I am of the camp that believes a deal will get done with Zeke sooner than later, and if we remember the last time he went to Cabo during his suspension, he came back looking and running like a Greek god. Zeke is the face of this offense, and if he does get signed, he could be in line for a 2,000-yard year. Part of this is due to the revival of Amari Cooper. After leaving the Oakland black hole, Amari had an average game stat line of 6 catches for 81 yards, compared to 4 catches for 47 yards with the Raiders. Coop alone forces d coordinators to leave a safety high to his end, softening the box for when healthy is the best o-line in the NFL. They ranked 3rd in power rank for offensive lines, and did this while missing All pro lineman Zack Martin for 2 games, and pro-bowl lineman Tyron Smith for 3. Connor Williams also missed 6 games, and these 3 injuries led to their 28th worst pass protection rating. Tyron Smith has lost a step, and it’s up to Dak Prescott to make reads quicker and get the ball out faster.
Defensively, the Cowboys bring in Robert Quinn to lineup across the always dangerous Demarcus Lawrence, who is working back from shoulder surgery but expects to be back by week 1, per himself. This should help the pass rush overall, but this defense hangs its hat on its rush defense, as they ranked 5th last year against the run. If they can get Zeke to camp, and Dak takes another step forward, there is no reason why the NFC East can’t have a 2nd representative again in the playoffs.
New York Giants – Over/Under 6 wins; 16/1 to win the NFC East; 130/1 to win the Super Bowl
Fantasy Players to watch: Saquon Barkley (#1 PPR player)
Outlook: Its literally all about Saquon. He had 11 touchdowns last year, but he only carried a success rate of 41% (Success Rate – represents the player’s consistency, measured by successful running plays – the definition of success being different based on down and distance – divided by total running plays). Part of that is due to an offensive line that ranked in the bottom 5 of adjusted line yards on run blocking plays. To fix this, the giants have brought in 3 new starters, led by former Patriot Nate Solder. With Odell gone, and WR’s (Golden Tate (suspension), Sterling Shepard (thumb), and Corey Coleman (ACL)) dropping like flies, expect Saquons’ workload to be monstrous, and his touchdowns to increase. Seriously, if you can run fast and catch a football, you should contact the Giants. They need you. Daniel Jones was the 2nd head scratcher of the draft, and I’m interested to see how and if they use him this year. Word out of camp is he is developing well, but I expect this front office to squeeze everything out of Eli, which probably ran dry years ago.
The first head scratcher was the reach for Dexter Lawrence, as he will be asked to lead the rebuild of this Giants defense. I actually love this young defensive core of Ogletree, Jabrill Peppers, and rookies Deandre Baker, Julian Love and Lawrence. Throw in Antoine Bethea and Janoris Jenknins as 2 experience guys in the back end, and they have a chance to develop their 24th ranked defense from 2018. It’s a rebuild year. It’s probably the first of many rebuild years. Sit tight, Giants fans.
Washington Redskins – Over/Under 6 wins; 11/1 to win the NFC East; 150/1 to win the Super Bowl
Fantasy Players to watch: See a Redskin player? Go to the next player!
Outlook: This may be a painful year in Washington. The biggest question is who is starting at QB: Colt McCoy or Dwayne Haskins. Case Keenum is said to be close to being cut by the team, so we will leave the race down to these 2. McCoy obviously has the experience over Dwayne, but the better arm belongs to Haskins, who was a gift at 15 in this year’s draft. He is joined by his college teammate Terry McLaurin, who looks to start on the other side of Josh Doctson, who is in a prove it year himself. This Backfield is a mystery, as they signed Adrian Peterson back on a 2-year deal, Derrius Guice is coming back off a leg injury, Chris Thompson is used as a scat back, Samaje Perine impressed last year in limited action, and they drafted Bryce Love! Who knows! If you made me pick, it would be Guice, who has stayed after practice with Haskins working on timing and routes from the slot and out of the backfield during camp. All of this is behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, both run blocking and pass protection.
The star power of this team comes in the secondary, where pro bowl safety Landon Collins comes over from the Giants to join Josh Norman. They also added veteran Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is more of a gamble than a sure thing. The rush defense ranked 28th last year, and although rookie Montez Sweat should help the front 7, going up against Saquon and Zeke for a fourth of the years’ games wont exactly do that number any favors. I would open the bottle now, Redskins fans.
Overall 2019 Prediction: Eagles, Cowboys (Wild Card), Giants, Redskins
Top Bets Summary:
Eagles OVER 10 wins
Eagles SB 14.5/1
Carson Wentz MVP 13.5/1
Redskins UNDER 6 wins
Saquon Barkley OVER 11 Touchdowns