The race between Dallas and Philadelphia will be intriguing
The NFC East is going to be a two-team race between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles with the New York Giants and Washington Redskins each trying to potentially break in new quarterbacks. It's an important year for Dallas considering Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper are all playing for contracts or are having issues with their current one. Meanwhile, in Philly, there's a roster in place to return to the Super Bowl, but can Carson Wentz stay healthy? Let's take a look at the outlooks for the four teams in this division courtesy of the Westgate in Las Vegas.
Over 9 wins -110...Under 9 wins -110
Offense: To me, Dak Prescott is not as good as a lot of people paint him out to be. He does some things well, but there are some holes in his game. Prescott's got a couple of new toys this year with Randall Cobb replacing Cole Beasley in the slot and Jason Witten is back at tight end. Witten is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle after trying his hand at broadcasting last season. If fully healthy, the offensive line should open up plenty of running lanes for Ezekiel Elliott (assuming he doesn't prolong his contract holdout). There's no reason to believe this team won't continue to average around 22 points per game like last year.
Defense: Rod Marinelli is doing great things on this side of the ball and he'll have Robert Quinn to help out up front. DeMarcus Lawrence had 10.5 sacks last year with Randy Gregory adding another six. Gregory is on an indefinite suspension though so who knows if he'll see the field. Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee are a really good linebacking trio now that they are all healthy. The key is to keep things that way. In the secondary, it's Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie at cornerback and Xavier Woods and George Iloka at safety. The Dallas defense figures to be a strength once again.
Verdict: Dallas alternates home and road games all the way up to the Week 8 bye. After the week off, the Cowboys play three of four on the road including a trip to New England. December features games against the Rams, Bears and Eagles. Nine wins is a good number so no play.
Over 6 wins -120...Under 6 wins EVEN
Offense: Who knows what the plan is for the Giants on this side of the ball. They swear that Eli Manning will get the start and most likely last the season keeping rookie Daniel Jones on the bench. This author thinks eventually Jones will see the field. With Odell Beckham Jr. gone, it's Saquon Barkley's show and he's going to see a ton of stacked boxes. The Giants spent a lot of money on Golden Tate to be their No. 1 receiver. Problem is that he's not a number one (and is facing a four-game suspension) and neither is Sterling Shepard (who broke his thumb early in training camp) nor Corey Coleman (out for the season with torn ACL). The offensive line was atrocious last season, but acquiring Kevin Zeitler in the Beckham trade could help this unit improve.
Defense: The team lost two cogs to the defense with Landon Collins signing in free agency with the division rival Redskins and Olivier Vernon traded to Cleveland in the ODB deal. The front seven is filled with youth including first-round pick Dexter Lawrence out of Clemson. The linebacking corps is led by Alec Ogletree while the secondary got really young with Jabrill Peppers another piece coming over from Cleveland. Antoine Bethea is the other safety, who signed after playing for Arizona last season. Janoris Jenkins is inconsistent at corner and he could have a rookie joining him in either Deandre Baker or Julian Love.
Verdict: The team has road trips to New England and Chicago to look forward to. The bye comes in mid-November (Week 11) and then the Giants alternate road and home games the rest of the season. By December, Daniel Jones will be under center and this team will be playing for the 2020 draft. Give me the under especially at EVEN money.
Over 10 wins EVEN...Under 10 wins -120
Offense: Carson Wentz is under pressure for several reasons as the team's quarterback. Philly committed a lot of money to the oft-injured player and Nick Foles is no longer there to save him. Wentz has a ton of weapons and could return to MVP form with Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Zach Ertz as his skill guys. The backfield could feature a couple of different candidates with rookie Miles Sanders in the mix as well as trade acquisition Jordan Howard, veteran Darren Sproles and holdover Corey Clement. The offensive line is arguably the best in football and has some depth behind the starters.
Defense: The defensive line saw some turnover with Malik Jackson signing after being a cap casualty in Jacksonville and Vinny Curry returning after playing in Tampa Bay last season while Michael Bennett left for New England and Chris Long retired. The team is hoping that Derek Barnett can bounce back after an injury-shortened 2018 campaign. The linebacking group was a weakness, but the addition of Zach Brown should give Nigel Bradham some help. The secondary is young at cornerback and experienced at safety. Rodney McLeod swears he'll be 100 percent by Week 1 while Jalen Mills and Ronald Derby hold down the corner spots.
Verdict: The Eagles play three straight road games in October with trips to Minnesota, Dallas and Buffalo. The payoff comes in November when they don't leave home and also have an extra week to prepare for the Patriots. Philly gets four straight divisional games to close out the schedule including two against the Giants. Give me the over.
Over 6.5 wins +120...Under 6.5 wins -140
Offense: The team maintains that there is a quarterback battle between Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, and Colt McCoy, but I think that Haskins will be under center Week 1 no matter what. The problem for whoever is the signal-caller is that this might be the weakest group of wide receivers in the league. Josh Doctson has been a massive disappointment while Paul Richardson had just a few catches due to an injury-shortened season. Terry McLaurin is only a rookie but he'll have good chemistry with his college quarterback. Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice form a solid backfield while the offensive line's effectiveness will be determined by Trent Williams and whether or not he will play. Williams holding out is a huge problem for a team that needs to run the ball.
Defense: This side of the ball should be really strong with the addition of Landon Collins through free agency and Montez Sweat in the draft. They've got the Alabama beef up front in Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen with Ryan Kerrigan at linebacker. The release of linebacker Mason Foster right before training camp was really odd. They are really young at ILB now. Josh Norman has got to step up at cornerback and play well enough for the contract he's getting. The veteran has not made as many plays as necessary. Collins and Deshazor Everett or Montae Nicholson are the safety pairing.
Verdict: The Redskins have just two prime-time games including a Monday night tilt against the Bears and a Thursday night affair with Kirk Cousins and the Vikings. Washington has three games in the span of 11 days in October and will host the Patriots and Jets from the AFC East. I came up with six or seven wins so no play here.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.