NFC East Picks & Odds: ‘Fitzmagic’ to topple Dallas

The NFC East was the worst division in football in 2020, so putting together picks for the new 2021 season is not easy – but we think we’ve found the value for you sports fans. And this NFL betting advice comes with a beard, a magnificent one.

‘America’s Team’ has become something of a shambles in recent years with Jerry Jones presiding over a quarter-century of futility in Dallas. Despite that the Cowboys – blessed with a ton of offensive riches – are favorite to win the division in 2021.

Washington though is building something pretty nice in the nation’s capital – meddling owner Dan Snyder has finally hired a strong head coach in Ron Rivera – and the Football Team is already coming off a division title last year.

The New York Giants meanwhile have huge questions around Daniel Jones and their offensive line – put the two together and it could be a nasty cocktail. Nasty bad, not nasty good…

The boo birds could be out early in Philly too – Carson Wentz is gone, Doug Pederson is out as HC and that Super Bowl win now seems decades ago. Jalen Hurts will start at QB and the Eagles are in rebuild mode.

Hardly a division full of great teams ready to produce a great season then. More an ailing cast of overpaid disappointments trying to prove themselves at last. Anything above .500 will likely be enough to have you very much in the race.

Odds to win the NFC East

Dallas is favorite, but its hardly overwhelming – here are your latest odds heading into the regular season:

  • +150 Dallas Cowboys (widely available)
  • +260 Washington Football Team (bet365)
  • +450 New York Giants (widely available)
  • +525 Philadelphia Eagles (PointsBet)

NB: Odds correct at 0400 ET on Monday September 6, 2021

So, who do we like? Well we’ll tell you, with our analysis of each of the four franchises in question:

NFC East Analysis & Predictions

Dallas Cowboys: When you look at the two sides of the ball in ‘Big D’ it is a case of feast or famine. Jones and his front office continually lavish extravagant resources on new toys while habitually ignoring defense.

The result is a high-powered offense containing QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott and three top-level WRs in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and new phenom CeeDee Lamb. There is no doubt that as long as Prescott stays healthy, this crew will put up gaudy numbers in 2021.

The problem though is that even when Prescott was healthy for the first four games of 2020, the Cowboys needed to score about 35 to even get close to winning a game. The defense was that bad – historically so.

Dan Quinn has replaced Mike Nolan at DC and the Cowboys spent most of their draft capital on defense (eight out of 11 picks starting with consensus best LB of the class Micah Parsons out of Penn State).

But a lot of those picks are gambles, and even if they do pay off it will take time for things to gel. We are not saying Dallas will not challenge for the East – heck we’d be shocked if they go 6-10 again. That was largely down to Prescott’s horrific ankle injury. The odds on them finishing on top are just too short.

Another minor concern for us was watching Dak spend most of camp stood on the sidelines nursing a shoulder injury while the underwhelming Mike McCarthy bored us with talk of pitch counts and Jerry Jones salted his McGriddle sandwich.

The odds on Dallas winning the title are just too skinny, we like value in these parts, so for that reason we are out.

Washington Football Team: Washington managed to win the East in 2020 DESPITE horrific play at the game’s most important position. Things may be a little different in 2021.

The signing of Ryan Fitzpatrick (Fitzmagic to his friends) is a stopgap, it is boom or bust and it is not the long-term answer to the QB position in Washington. But it is still a significant upgrade on what WFT had in 2020.

Fitzpatrick was eminently respectable in Miami last year – throwing for more than 2000 yards, 13 TDs and eight picks in seven starts. His benching in mid-season was more about the Fish needing to find out about rookie signal caller Tua Tagovailoa than any Fitzpatrick failings.

Washington has plenty of offensive weapons for Fitzpatrick to utilize too – headed by stellar WR Terry McLaurin, RB Antonio Gibson and TE Logan Thomas. It also added Curtis Samuel into the mix in free agency, though he has been dealing with a groin injury throughout the summer. He needs to be ready soon.

If the offense has potential, with just a serviceable QB needed to unlock some of it, the defense is already stellar.

Anchored by the terrific Chase Young, Washington has a beastly front seven capable of terrorizing any offensive front. It should be good again in 2021, and the addition of Kentucky LB Jamin Davis (19th overall pick) adds further spice.

We are taking a bit of a gamble on Fitzpatrick being consistent here, but the value in Washington is too good to ignore. Even middle-of-the-road quarterback play – aligned with that terrific defense – will have the Football Team right in the mix again.

New York Giants: It’s all about Daniel. In the NFL it is almost always now about the quarterback. We are in Year 3 of the Jones experiment in New York as the controversial 2019 first-round pick bids once again to have a breakout year.

New York spent most of its offseason resources trying to put extra weapons around Jones in a bid to increase offensive productivity. Notably the $72million, four-year deal to lure former Detroit WR Kenny Golladay to the Big Apple.

On paper the Giants have a better supporting cast for Jones right now, and Saquon Barkley is tentatively feeling his way back after a catastrophic knee injury in 2020. But there are just too many questions right now about this team.

The biggest issue right now might be the offensive line. Remember, in this league you win up front – in the trenches. If you can’t run the ball and protect your QB forget it. If you can’t do the latter, you’re toast.

The New York front is in a state of upheaval right now. Combine that with a QB who often holds onto the ball too long and has a propensity to fumble – we are seriously concerned.

The Giants may end up surprising us and being vastly improved in 2021. Right now the evidence suggests not.

Philadelphia Eagles: It’s just three years since the Eagles won their first Super Bowl with Doug Pederson masterminding that epic defeat of Belichick, Brady and the Pats. It feels like 53.

A tumultuous 2020 campaign in the City of Brotherly Love ended with Pederson axed, expensive QB flop Carson Wentz traded to Indianapolis and a rebuild under way.

New HC Nick Sirianni hardly inspired confidence with a truly weird opening press conference, and everything appears to be a bit of a mess in Philly right now. Not what we normally expect from a franchise owned by Jeff Lurie.

There is absolutely talent still in the building – the Eagles should still trot out a fearsome defensive front in 2021. But the question marks again come back to QB. Is the anointed starter Jalen Hurts the real deal? Is he the future?

The fact Philly traded for Jags signal caller Gardner Minshew last week hardly inspires confidence in Hurts, but we’ll see. He has intriguing talent, but this is hardly the backdrop to bring it all out.

Philadelphia could be anything in 2021. It could be shockingly good, or shockingly bad. We’ll be surprised if there is a middle ground.

As for the +525 to win the division? Not nearly enough. We’re out.

NFC East Picks

So to sum up this is a value pick. If you asked us to pick Washington or Dallas straight up, we’d probably avoid the bet. But +260 against +150? Too good to pass up.

The Cowboy defense was terrible a year ago and the changes they’ve made won’t even start to pay off for a few weeks. Washington meanwhile was serviceable QB play away from being really good in 2020.

No pressure Mr ‘Fitzmagic’, but it’s over to you.

OddsCritic Pick: Washington Football Team to win the NFC East at +260 (bet365)