By Sally Fahey
Training camp is still 11 days away and the regular season doesn’t begin for two months, but Vegas loves the Eagles:
The Eagles’ chances of winning the NFC East come down to one player: Carson Wentz. The fourth-year quarterback has all the goods to be the best at his position in the NFL but injuries have plagued him over the last two seasons. It didn’t necessarily hinder them in winning Super Bowl 52 (shoutout to Nick Foles) but it may have cost them the chance to win the NFC East last season when it was seemingly up for grabs from Week 9 onward.
Let’s pretend that Wentz is healthy for the full 16 games this year. If that’s the case, they have a great shot to win the division because they’re stacked throughout the entire roster. They still have one of the best offensive lines in football and their defensive line held opponents to 96.9 rushing yards per game, which was seventh-best in the NFL last season.
The only defensive phase where the team seems weak is in the secondary as they don’t have a ton of depth if any starters go down, which was a big issue at the end of last season. At -105, there isn’t much value to take them at this stage and it may be better to take a wait-and-see approach.
Dallas Cowboys (+140)
Last year’s winner of the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys have the goods to beat any team in the NFL. They also have an offense that can be somewhat stagnant with QB Dak Prescott and a coaching staff who seem to hold it back more than they move it forward. This is why it can be a tricky wager when backing the Cowboys these days.
Last season, the Cowboys after Week 9 looked to have plateaued as they were 4-4 SU in eight games and were trailing the Eagles by two games in the division. Then they acquired WR Amari Cooper, focused the team to play through its defense and reeled off wins in six of their remaining eight games to finish 10-6.
They still have a fairly dominant run game with Ezekiel Elliott and their offensive line, along with an up-and-coming defense, which means you can’t count them out. However, they have to play a first-place schedule after winning the division, which means it’s going to be tough to get to double-digit wins in 2019. The Cowboys would be my pick to win the NFC East but it may come down to the Week 16 matchup with the Eagles to see how it all shakes out.
Washington Redskins (+900)
Based on their defense alone, the Washington Professional Football Team has a great shot to win the division. The Deadskins added safety Landon Collins from the Giants and their defensive line has some of the best five-star recruits from Alabama. They’ll be a pest to play against and I expect if health is in their favor, they can replicate what they did in 2018 when they held opponents to 22.4 points per game.
As much as Washington’s defense deserves praise, it’s the offense that leaves a lot of questions. Case “Meh” Keenum is now their starting QB after a gruesome leg injury to Alex Smith and their receivers won’t exactly scare opposing defenses. The Redskins only averaged 17.6 points per game (ranked 29th) last season but if Keenum can be more of a caretaker than a playmaker, I can see them winning seven to nine games.
New York Giants (+1200)
The team I picked as a sleeper to make the playoffs in the NFC and potentially win the division last season, the New York Giants are one of the worst teams in the NFL. They’re still riding with 38-year-old Eli Manning (ugggh) and I’ll be surprised if the Giants are favored in more than two of their 16 games in 2019.
The exodus of talent in the offseason neutered their playmaking with Odell Beckham Jr. and Landon Collins moving on to new teams. Outside of Saquon Barkley, the lack of talent on this squad is just too severe to seriously consider the Giants to leapfrog any of the three teams ahead of them. Steer clear of the +1200.