The NFL season will be here before we know it. Most major free agents have found homes, and the NFL Draft is in the rearview. Thus, barring significant injuries, the general outlook for teams is clear.
It’s an excellent time to scope out the sportsbooks. Gamblers are encouraged to line shop for the best odds for team futures, such as team wins totals, to-make-playoff bets, division winners, conference winners, the Super Bowl winner, etc.
The NFC East was outstanding last year. The Eagles won the division. However, the Cowboys and Giants also reached the postseason. Furthermore, Dallas and New York won playoff games, and Philadelphia reached the Super Bowl. Even Washington had a .500 record (8-8-1). The division should be competitive again this year. Yet, instead of suggesting betting on a division winner, I have my eye on a different wager as my favorite bet for the NFC East.
NFC East Odds
|New York Giants||+850|
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook as of August 23.
Philadelphia Eagles Odds To Win NFC East: (-135)
The Eagles were 14-3, won the NFC East, and reached the Super Bowl. Philadelphia’s underlying data was elite, too. According to Pro Football Reference, the Eagles had the NFC’s second-best point differential (+133). Pro Football Focus (PFF) also gave them their highest overall team grade. And, per Football Outsiders, Philadelphia was third in total Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) and fifth in weighted DVOA.
Unfortunately, their success led to some significant losses from last year’s NFC Championship team. Most notably, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen was hired as the new head coach for the Colts, defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was hired as the new head coach for the Cardinals, and defensive consultant Vic Fangio was hired as the defensive coordinator for the Dolphins. The Eagles also lost some key contributors as free agents. But they groomed in-house replacements for some of those players and had an extra pick in the top 10 of the draft they received from the Saints when they moved up for Chris Olave last year. So, Philadelphia’s roster is still deep and talented.
Dallas Cowboys Odds To Win NFC East: (+190)
The Cowboys had a 12-5 record and excellent advanced data. First, they had the third-best point differential (+125) in the NFC. Second, they had PFF’s ninth-highest overall team grade. Third, Dallas was sixth in total DVOA and seventh in weighted DVOA.
Dallas’s numbers in the regular season were all the more impressive when considering Dak Prescott missed five games. The Cowboys have many high-end talents on offense and defense. And they added intriguing veterans to the mix, such as Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gillmore.
Yet, one significant change to the coaching staff concerns me about their 2023 outlook. The club parted ways with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore in the offseason. The Chargers wasted no time scooping up Moore. The Cowboys replaced Moore with Brian Schottenheimer. However, head coach Mike McCarthy will call plays. McCarthy was last a play-caller when he wore out his welcome in Green Bay. Alarmingly, he voiced some dinosaur thinking regarding how he wanted to run the offense.
Dallas’s personnel talent is unquestionable. Unfortunately, it might be undermined by McCarthy. If nothing else, I expect McCarthy’s mediocrity to prevent them from winning the NFC East, but slipping to third doesn’t seem crazy, either.
New York Giants Odds To Win NFC East: (+850)
The Giants outkicked their coverage last year. They went 9-7-1 in the regular season and beat a fellow overachiever (the Vikings) in the playoffs. According to Pro Football Reference, Big Blue had an expected win-loss record of 8.3-8.7. New York was outscored by their opponents by six points in the regular season.
In addition, they were 29th in PFF’s overall team grade, 21st in total DVOA, and 17th in weighted DVOA. Fortunately, they can offset regression that would hit if they matched last year’s point differential by improving in their second season led by head coach Brian Daboll.
The Giants have taken a low-cost approach of throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks with pass-catching options this offseason. Their biggest splash was trading for Darren Waller. But they also added much-needed speed, signing Parris Campbell and drafting Jalin Hyatt. It’s not the most exciting path to getting Daniel Jones to the next step in his development, but even the in-season addition of Isaiah Hodgins was meaningful for Jones’s play improving last year. In other words, New York’s pass-catching corps needed fresh blood, and they added it.
The Giants aren’t a legitimate threat to the Eagles for the division title. And, on paper, their roster shouldn’t allow them to overtake the Cowboys for the second spot in the division. Yet, New York’s continuity on the coaching staff could help them overachieve again this year.
Washington Commanders Odds To Win NFC East: (+1600)
No matter what record the Commanders finish with this year, 2023 will be a success for the organization since a new ownership group purchased the team from Daniel Snyder. The club can begin distancing itself from its embarrassing former owner.
However, there’s hope for a respectable season, too. Washington was 8-8-1 last year. They had a -22 point differential, ranked 23rd in PFF overall team grade, finished 22nd in team DVOA, and were 18th in weighted DVOA. The Commanders were only slightly below average in underlying data, despite the quarterbacks playing wretched in 2022. Sam Howell might not be an upgrade on Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke. However, Jacoby Brissett waits in the wings as a competent option and improvement on last year’s duo if Howell struggles.
Moreover, the organization hired Eric Bieniemy as their new offensive coordinator. Bieniemy didn’t call plays as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator the previous five years. Nevertheless, he had a hand in crafting Kansas City’s elite offense. Can he replicate that success as a play caller and without Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes? That remains to be seen. However, he’s earned the opportunity to strut his stuff as Washington’s play-caller. And he’s presumably learned a lot in his five-year stint as Reid’s right-hand man on offense.
Even a mediocre season from Washington’s offense might be enough to exceed their expectations this year since the defense is stout. The Commanders allowed the 12th-fewest yards per play (5.2) and were seventh in scoring defense (20.2 points per game). They were also 13th in PFF defense grade and ninth in defense DVOA.
While I’m intrigued by Howell, expecting him to perform well enough to unseat the Eagles atop the NFC East is unrealistic.
NFC East Predictions & Best Bet
The Eagles might need the beginning of the year to adjust to their new offensive and defensive coordinators. Still, Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and a primarily intact offensive line from last year’s NFC Champion squad should allow them to score at will again this year. And the defense still has high-end talent. Finally, the NFC doesn’t have the murderer’s row of quarterbacks the AFC boasts. Thus, the Eagles are among the few genuine contenders to win the NFC this year.
Best Bet: Philadelphia Eagles NFC Championship Winner | +330 at FanDuel Sportsbook