All About The Futures: NFC East
Photo Cred: Hogshaven.com
It's never too early to talk predictions, and I'm happy to be bringing the sports betting side of things into the mix. Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing each division and how I think the teams will do based on their preseason odds. Hopefully when all of this is said and done, I will have won you some cash! I'm starting off with the struggling NFC East, and of course our beloved Eagles.
2020 NFC East Result
Washington Football Team: 7-9
New York Giants: 6-10
Dallas Cowboys: 6-10
Philadelphia Eagles: 4-11-1
2021 NFC East Winner per FanDuel
I pulled these numbers on Wednesday, February 24th, 2021
Dallas Cowboys: -105
Washington Football Team: +300
Philadelphia Eagles: +440
New York Giants: +500
My initial thought was Vegas is focusing on the Quarterback play to be the determining factor here, as well as cap space entering 2021. Interestingly enough, I would argue that the NFC East has the biggest question marks for their QB play entering the year. Let's start though with the Division Champs.
The Alex Smith story was certainly a miraculous comeback, but how much does Smith have left in the tank? Even though he was able to propel the Football Team into first, you could very well argue that the defense was a bigger contributor into their late-season success. Per Pro-Football-Reference.com, WFT ranked 4th overall in Team Defense, and rising stars like Chase Young really make Ron Rivera's Defensive Unit a force moving forward. You also need to take into account the fact that Washington has $33 million dollars in projected cap space entering the offseason. Releasing Smith saves the team over $14 million in cap space, so there is certainly incentive for WFT to move on from Alex. If so, then who ends up under center? In a league that is so Quarterback driven, it's hard to imagine that WFT can repeat without Smith or another established player leading the offense. I believe they bring Alex back, and continue to bolster their promising defense. That said, I just don't think Smith has enough to repeat.
Let's talk about who oddsmakers believe will be winning the Division in 2021. Two stories are the main focus for me entering the offseason. 1) What is going on with Dak? and 2) How does Dallas fix their defense? First, it should be known that Dallas has about $20 million in cap space entering the offseason, Second, Dak will likely be tagged again, which will end up being just over $37 Million. The Cowboys defense was historically bad last year (except vs the Eagles), and given the uncertainty of Prescott's ankle, I'd be surprised if the Cowboys don't spend a majority of their funds retooling the D, as well as their O-Line. With all of that said, a healthy Cowboys' offense is capable of scoring points and exploiting the secondary with their upper-echelon wide receivers. I understand why Dallas is favored to win the East, but their chance at a title can't solely rest on Dak's shoulders..
I don't think I even need to talk about our Drama-Loving Eagles. He who shall not be named is finally off the roster, and now we can focus on how this young coaching staff gets this team back on top. The current skill players (Reagor, Travis, and Sanders) are clearly supportive of Jalen Hurts, and they now have a full offseason to build chemistry without the Wentz drama. I don't expect Ertz to be here next year, but I've liked what I've seen from Dallas Goedert over the last two years. The offense certainly has speed and some talent, but it falls on Coach Sirianni to extract the most out of this roster. Howie, who none of us are thrilled about, is still calling the shots, which gives us a lot of concern when it comes to drafting/signing FA. We very clearly need a WR1 to compliment the group in place and provide Hurts with an elite weapon. Furthermore, our linebacker group (aside from Singleton) is below-average, our offensive and defensive lines are aging, and the secondary needs to be replenished. I just can't see Howie fixing all of this in one offseason, and I'm not entirely surprised the Birds are third on the list given their limited cap space. If our offseason is successful, I could very well envision the Eagles jumping to second on the Futures list. There's a lot of "what ifs" though for that to happen.
The Giants are really just a walking question mark right now. Can Daniel Jones become a top-tier QB? Is Saquon going to come back to his old form post-torn ACL? Will Evan Engram become a consistent playmaker? and how does New York retool their roster with such limited cap space? Releasing someone like Golden Tate or Kevin Zeitler would certainly provide them some wiggle room, but you run the risk of depleting an offense that really doesn't have a top-level weapon outside of Barkley. The defense had some bright spots last season, but it's very clear in my opinion that the Giants need to revamp their offense as best as they can. Considering the amount of question marks, I'm not surprised that New York is fourth on the list. They clearly have the most work to do from top to bottom.
The NFC East is known for having a different champion every season, so it would not surprise me if Dallas or Philly win it this year. I find it hard to believe that this division will get dramatically better as a whole, and there are certainly a lot of questions left to be answered. My gut is telling me that Philly or the Cowboys will be competing for the top spot this coming year, as I really don't trust Alex Smith to be dramatically better than either Hurts or Dak. Yes, Washington has the money to spend, but the Quarterback is still the most important position, and right now the Eagles and Cowboys have more upside and youth. The draft and offseason moves will give us some answers, but the Cowboys just seem to have more of their pieces in place. I think the odds are correct for now.
- Mike Barrera