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The NFC East may be the most wide-open division in this conference in 2014 as we’ve only seen one team (Philadelphia) win it twice over the last four years. The best record to win it during that time has been 10-6 SU, so this division will always be highly competitive within itself, and with Dallas, Washington and the Giants looking to rebound this season, the Eagles will have to endure numerous tests if they want to keep their throne.
NFC East Odds 2014:
– Philadelphia (+130)
– New York Giants (+320)
– Dallas (+400)
– Washington (+450)
Philadelphia won the division last year in Chip Kelly’s first pro season as a head coach. They did it with an aggressive style on both sides of the ball and one of the better performances by a RB in recent years from LeSean McCoy. QB Nick Foles came into his own as a passer, but he lost one of his biggest weapons in Desean Jackson this off-season. Many in the Eagles locker room think that subtraction will actually help Philly this year and propel them to the Super Bowl, but I’m not so sure. With so little difference between all four of these teams, and a first-place schedule to boot, I don’t think Philly deserves to be this heavily favored to win this division at this point of the year.
Every one in the NFC East has to deal with the AFC South and NFC West this year and while the former could provide some easy wins (Jacksonville), the latter could provide zero wins for NFC East teams. For Philadelphia, they also have to deal with Green Bay and Carolina (both division winners from last year) that no one else in their division will face and that’s tough. The Eagles schedule starts off rather soft with a home game against Jacksonville in Week 1, but they’ve got road games @ Indy and SF mixed in with home games vs. Wash, NYG, and STL before their Week 7 bye. Philly has to take control of that early part of the schedule if they want any hope of repeating.
I say that because the last have of their season is gruesome. Philadelphia finishes up with games @ Dallas, vs. Seattle, vs. Dallas, @ Washington, and @ NYG. Three straight division games to end the year is rough and with the NFC East likely up for grabs still at that time, at +130 I don’t know how you can like the Eagles to repeat as division champions.
Washington (+450) might be the most intriguing team in 2014, after a disastrous campaign in RGIII’s sophomore season. They were the ones who brought in WR Desean Jackson to boost their offense, and with a new coaching staff all the way around you can’t help but wonder if Washington will respond with a strong first year under a new regime the same way the Eagles did a season ago. Their first half of the schedule is relatively soft as well with a home game against Seattle in Week 5 the only game that looks like a “sure” loss at this point. They’ve got three straight against division rivals to finish the year as well, but that’s their opportunity to make a name for themselves as the hunter and not the hunted.
The NY Giants are still not too far removed from their 2011 Championship season and coach Tom Coughlin and QB Eli Manning know how to win. New York went through their ups-and-downs last year but are hoping to bounce back strong this year with a couple of rookie playmakers like Odell Beckham Jr and RB Andre Williams looking to make a big impact. They are a team that you can never count out, and if they can get through their Week 10 and 11 games @ Seattle and vs. San Francisco with at least a split, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with down the stretch.
That leaves “America’s Team” from Dallas with lofty expectations placed on them yet again by owner Jerry Jones. Dallas will always be one of the most overhyped teams in the NFL, and with the Cowboys currently on the longest drought in terms of winning this division, I don’t see anything changing too drastically this year. Defensively they are a mess and already lost their top LB (Sean Lee) for the season. They finish the year with four of their last six on the road and given their reputation of being choke artists down the stretch, I don’t think Romo and company will find a way to reverse those results this year.
As far as a pick goes for the NFC East, I’m going to give you two and let you decide. I don’t give Dallas much of a chance to win this division, and the Eagles present no value at +130, especially when I believe they’ll take a step back.
That leaves Washington and New York to battle it out for this division title and I believe one of them will take it down in the final weeks. Washington provides a better payday at +450, but they are too reliant on RGIII’s health, which leads me to stick with those reliable Giants who always seem to find a way to win.
Take New York to win the NFC East at +320
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