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The NFC East is notoriously known as the most difficult division in all of Football betting. For the degenerates like you and me who can’t resists betting on Football, this is also known as the “barrens”. You simply can’t predict how this division is going to shake out, which is why the odds of where each team is going to finish is so damn tight. Let’s try and make sense of things.
Let’s kick things off with the New York Giants, who are the defending Super Bowl Champions, and aren’t even slated to win the division. However, if you just look at their odds to finish first-through-fourth in the division you have to scratch your head a bit. It seems a better bet that they’ll finish third or fourth in the division than it is that they’ll finish second.
The reason is that they have divisional matchups against Dallas and Philadelphia which could serve as tie-breakers and push them down the standings. As is usually the case in the most competitive division in all of NFL betting, it’s boom-or-bust. There is never a clear cut dominator in the NFC East.
The defense in New York speaks for itself, but the offense lost some big weapons in Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham and running back Brandon Jacobs. Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are the studs in the passing game, but Manningham was always available as a third option and ran great routes which forced defenses to remain honest.
And you can’t say enough about the loss of Brandon Jacobs. We’ve seen Ahmad Bradshaw as the go-to guy in a backfield before, and it wasn’t pretty. When you needed someone to pound through a stacked box, Jacobs could do it.
People are ready to doubt Eli Manning again, and there’s enough reason why. While he’s one of the most capable quarterbacks in the league he’s not the flashiest and he has games where he completely combusts. That made the Giants one of the most average teams to bet on last year, where they finished 8-7-1 ATS.
So all that being said, can New York repeat as champions? It’s completely possible. This is a team that loves to peak at the right time and if they survive some brutal divisional matchups early on they’ll be in a position to run the playoff gauntlet again. But finishing second is probably the best bet in my eyes because I just don’t see how Philadelphia completely implodes two years in a row.
As is usual, the oddsmakers are high on Michael Vick and the Eagles and for very good reason. They have an exciting offense bolstered by Shady McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and a DeSean Jackson who will supposedly “try” this season after protecting himself for a contract extension which he happily signed a few weeks ago.
However, the biggest caveat for the Eagles is the loss of left tackle Jason Peters who helped McCoy have one of the best years of any running back last year and also protected Vick from being buries in an early grave. King Dunlap and the Spawn of Malone (Demetrius Bell) will do their best to replace him, but you just don’t completely replenish a void usually filled by a talent like Peters. The Eagles make their money on the ground and losing Peters is a devastating injury.
However, this team is so loaded with talent elsewhere that it’s hard to imagine them finishing anywhere but first. The problem with that line of thinking is that we though the exact same way last year. In my opinion, this is a division that New York and Philadelphia should own but neither team has shown consistency like they’re capable of throughout the full seventeen weeks of the regular season.
Keeping everyone happy in Philadelphia is priority one, and keeping them healthy is priority two. Cole and Babin will keep this defense at the top of the list, but it’s up to Andy Reid to keep all of his volatile personalities in line and focused. Last year he was unable to. If he can somehow find a way to stay the course, this is the best team in the division.
I think nominating the Cowboys to finish out of the playoff hunt in third is exactly where they’re going to end up but I might throw some change at their +400 odds to finish dead last just for comedy’s sake. There’s the usual optimism in Dallas, and I can’t figure out way. They’re not even healthy going in to the season.
Tony Romo has always had Jason Witten as a safety valve, and this year he won’t be around as he nurses an injured spleen. This is the type of ominous warning sign that makes a gambler like me insanely nervous. Miles Austin is also unhealthy, and I have no idea what to expect from DeMarco Murray in his first full year as a starter. Don’t get me started on Dez Bryant.
I like to think that I know what to expect out of Romo, and I’ll have a better sense of where he’s going to be after they play the Giants in the season opener on Wednesday night. He’s 32 years old. At one point do you stop hoping that he’s going to “break through” and realize that he is what he is? For now Dallas is a safe bet at 3rd because as the pressure mounts on Romo to prove he’s the solution at quarterback, I expect him to crack as usual.
Book them to finish last, and not because Robert Griffin III isn’t talented enough to carry them. The problem in Washington is Mike Shanahan, who has far too much control over this team as its coach and general manager. For all the talk of Shanny as a Hall of Fame caliber coach, he has had an absolutely terrible time since coming to the nation’s capital. He’s 11-21 as the head coach of the Redskins, and just shipped away any potential at rebuilding to get Robert Griffin III by sending all of his future draft picks to St. Louis.
Having a great quarterback is a must in the NFL, but surrounding him with requisite talent and great coaching is also a necessity and that’s not a path that Shanahan has this team prepared for in the long run.
Washington simply can’t survive the long haul of the season with a rookie quarterback as their only marquee player. Maybe they’ll make some noise as upstarts throughout the season. There are arguments to be made for any NFC East team winning the division by season’s end, but the only lock is that Washington will finish at the bottom of the barrel in 2012.