The NFC East is quite often the butt of jokes among NFL fans, but I think this will be an interesting race since you can really make a case for any of the teams to take the divisional crown. Washington and Dallas are the most talented of the group, but the Giants have a potentially dynamic offense if all goes well, while the Eagles' defense will keep them in games if they stay healthy. Let's take a look at all four teams and see what value there is in their projected win totals.
2021 NFL Win Total Analysis by Division: AFC East I AFC North I AFC South I AFC West I NFC East I NFC North I NFC South I NFC West
Note: Win total numbers courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.
Dallas Cowboys (Over 9.5 +115...Under 9.5 -135)
Division Champion Odds: +130
Offense: The biggest question for the Cowboys is Dak Prescott's health after his season ended early last year. Prescott led the league with 1,856 passing yards through Week 6 last season despite fracturing his ankle the previous week and completed 68 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns to four interceptions. The backup situation is still putrid, but there aren't many places where this isn't the case. Ezekiel Elliott was a disappointment with just six touchdowns, which was only two more than the number of fumbles he lost. One of the best parts of this offense is the depth at WR, with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup joined by second-year receiver CeeDee Lamb. Lamb had 74 receptions on 111 targets. The offensive line is pretty strong with some decent depth behind the starters.
Defense: This is where the problems begin for the Cowboys, who had one of the worst units in the league last year. They spent a ton of draft capital to try and change that, beginning with first-round linebacker Micah Parsons. Also coming in to hopefully improve things are former Falcons Damontae Kazee and Keanu Neal, who is moving from safety to linebacker. That is the team's strongest position, with Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch leading the way. Sean Lee retired and Aldon Smith left for Seattle. The ultimate hope is that new coordinator Dan Quinn can work some magic on this group and they can be passable.
Schedule Note: Getting the Bucs and Chargers on the road to start out the season is not easy. That is followed up by three straight at home, including two divisional games against the Eagles and Giants. Weeks 13-15 are all on the road over a 17-day period. Getting Washington twice over three weeks could help decide who wins the division.
Prediction: Lean to the under here, as I see 8-9 wins with the Cowboys. Their defense will hold them back in the end.
Related: Dallas Cowboys Depth Chart
New York Giants (Over 7 -130...Under 7 -110)
Division Champion odds: +400
Offense: There will be no more excuses for Daniel Jones after the team added a legit No. 1 WR in Kenny Golladay from the Lions. His addition gives Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard the opportunity to see lesser corners on a week-to-week basis. John Ross III comes over from the Bengals, while the team also drafted Kadarius Toney out of Florida. Toney has been an early disappointment in training camp, but there's plenty of time for him. None of this matters if Jones can't play better. The signal-caller had 10 interceptions and was sacked 45 times. New York's run game gets an instant boost with a presumably healthier Saquon Barkley, who has solid backups in Devontae Booker and Corey Clement. The pieces are there for this group to be very good.
Defense: This unit largely put up some solid numbers but allowed 50.8 percent of opponents' red-zone possessions to turn into touchdowns. James Bradberry was a great addition two years ago, and now he gets help in Adoree' Jackson from Tennessee. Pair them with Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan at safety, and the secondary is in good hands. Up front, Leonard Williams had 11.5 sacks in 2020 and will be the anchor with Austin Johnson, Danny Shelton, and Dexter Lawrence II. The linebackers are the weakest group on defense, but we'll see if second-round pick Azeez Ojulari can help improve that.
Schedule Notes: After the Week 10 bye, New York closes things out with five of their final eight on the road. We'll know some things about this team rather quickly after hosting the Broncos and then Thursday traveling to Washington. Road trips to the two Super Bowl teams from last year are part of a difficult November.
Prediction: Seven is a pretty solid number, so no play here.
Related: New York Giants Depth Chart
Philadelphia Eagles (Over 6.5 -150...Under 6.5 +125)
Division Champion Odds: +450
Offense: Last year, the Eagles were snakebitten by a ton of injuries and some awful play by Carson Wentz. Wentz is in Indy, and Jalen Hurts is taking over despite the nagging offseason rumors linking the team elsewhere. Hurts has flashed some promise and should grow under new head coach Nick Sirianni if used properly. His mobility is going to help big time. Doug Pederson didn't commit to the run enough, which left Miles Sanders under-used. Sirianni figures to change that, which is going to be great considering this offensive line when healthy is one of the best in football. The WR corps is really young and led by first-round picks DeVonta Smith (2021) and Jalen Reagor (2020). The good thing is that TE is a stacked position, especially if the team ends up keeping Zach Ertz alongside Dallas Goedert.
Defense: This unit has a ton of potential if it stays healthy. They had massive salary cap restraints but were still able to add LB Eric Wilson, CB Steven Nelson, and S Anthony Harris. The secondary was an issue in 2020, but now Darius Slay has a worthy complement. Harris makes the safety group improved, especially if Rodney McLeod recovers well from his torn ACL. The weakest group is at linebacker, although Alex Singleton and T.J. Edwards are a solid pair. The defensive line would be the best in the division if not for the Washington Football Team. Javon Hargrave and Josh Sweat have been tough to block in practice, and that will be huge for Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox.
Schedule Notes: Philly has a last-place schedule but still hosts the Bucs and Chiefs within 11 days of each other. In one respect, a bye in Week 14 is going to be tough for this young team, but if they hang tough, then the closing stretch features three of their final four at home.
Prediction: Putting aside my bias as an Eagles fan, I think this team can win eight or nine games if they stay healthy. The starting lineup is strong, but the lack of depth is a problem. Instead of taking the -150, maybe look for an alternate line that will move the win total up but make the juice better. I'm a believer, and it's not just because I'm a fan.
Related: Philadelphia Eagles Depth Chart
Washington Football Team (Over 8.5 -115...Under 8.5 -105)
Division Champion Odds: +260
Offense: After last year's disaster situation at quarterback, veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick takes over. The signal-caller has had some electric moments but there's a reason he's known as "Fitztragic" just as much as "Fitzmagic." He's also still looking for his first playoff victory. Having Taylor Heinicke as a backup is a luxury as well, although I'm not convinced at how much he can win if left to start for more than a couple of games. Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic were a great combo in the backfield, as the former handled most of the work on the ground while the latter was the pass catcher. The WR corps was bolstered by the additions of Adam Humphries and Curtis Samuel, who join Terry McLaurin. Logan Thomas is an upper-echelon TE after a 72-reception 2020 campaign. The offensive line is improved as well with the drafting of Sam Cosmi and the FA addition of Charles Leno Jr.
Defense: This is one of the best defenses in the league. Chase Young had 7.5 sacks as a rookie and is part of a fierce front with Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Montez Sweat. The linebackers were in need of an upgrade, so first-round draft pick Jamin Davis has joined the fold. Not to be outdone, they also added the best CB in the FA market in William Jackson III. He's taking some time learning the system but should fit in nicely. There are plenty of options at safety as well and that was a weak spot previously.
Schedule Notes: Washington plays the Cowboys in Weeks 14 and 16 and the Eagles in Weeks 15 and 17, so the end of the year is where this division will be decided. It's very important for this team to starts off 2-0 with home games against the Chargers and Giants because four of their next six are on the road before a Week 9 bye.
Prediction: I think this is an 8-9 win team, so no play on the total.
Related: Washington Football Team Depth Chart