Sunday, 19 August 2018 18:26 EST
A couple weeks of play and about 17 episodes of Hard Knocks into the preseason, and things are starting to happen. Sort of: A few injuries, a few comebacks from injuries, a few complaining about injuries, et cetera. Thus armed with a tad more information, NFLbets continues our division-by-division look at the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” NFL futures offered at online sportsbooks.
Today NFLbets inspects the NFC East, which in 2018 features only the still-scary defending champion Philadelphia Eagles and, to be frank, three teams who would be fine with relocating to the Island Of Misfit Toys.
If you’re like most NFL fans – and presumably most non-homer NFL bettors – you’re believing that the NFC East will be a runaway in 2018 – though the oddsmakers are clearly trying to make it appear as though it’s not the case.
Why? Because Vegas doesn’t want to pay out hundreds of thousands of bettors would can see an easy wager when it’s offered. The poorly-kept secret about how much better the Philadelphia Eagles look than the division’s remainder is fairly clear in the table featuring lines in the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” NFL futures bets below.
||to win div. (oper)
||to win div. (current)
|New York Giants
Check out the difference between first- and second-place in this division, bigger than any except the AFC East and NFC West, both expected blowouts for the prospective winner. The difference between the Eagles and Cowboys might be greater if not for the inevitable plethora of Dallas Cowboys fans (though, admittedly, gambling and even betting on football in Texas itself is damned frowned upon). keeping the Cowboys’ odds against winning the NFC East down and the total wins over/under line up.
Also of note: The preseason injury to freakin’ *Super Bowl MVP* Nick Foles and the announcement that Carson Wentz will miss at least the opening game against the Atlanta Falcons hasn’t budged the line a bit. Additionally, the variance on what sportsbooks are offering on the Eagles is currently running anywhere from -130 to -230 – quite a range there, and all reflecting the risk-adversity of the given sportsbook. Clearly, everybody figures the Eagles for shoo-ins.
So if the Eagles are set to win the NFC East in 2018, what stands in the way of their topping 10 wins? The roster is deep enough at every position so as to weather the injury bug. And the first quarter of the season, when Philly is dealing with quarterback issues and perhaps incorporating a few signings into the schemes, is none too difficult for a defending champ: vs Atlanta, at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, vs the Indianapolis Colts, at the Tennessee Titans. Figure in at least five wins against the division, and that’s good for seven immediately.
The difference between 10 and 11 wins is often a single misstep or a surprise upset in a late-season game, so NFLbets would advise staying away from the over/under wins prop on the Eagles. That “To Win Division” bet, though. Hoo boy – just look for the most generous sportsbook and load up: Bet the Philadelphia Eagles to win the division, hopefully as part of a parlay.
Who else can contend in the NFC East? By NFLbets’ reckoning, the pickings are slim.
The sportsbooks like the Jerry Jones’s guys to finish second in this division, but NFLbets wouldn’t bet on the 2018 Dallas Cowboys with our worst enemy’s money. Wow, is this team wonderfully constructed to be yet another year of overrated status (starting with an over/under of 8½ wins, mind you), underwhelming results and enough drama to keep fans nauseated. Or the Cowboys might rally behind their young quarterback Making The Leap while finding that the departure of Dez Bryant was addition by subtraction and a ragtag defense finds ways to dominate in the clutch.
Naturally, we’re thinking the former, so we’ll consider the latter.
After going stunningly quiet this offseason – the Cowboys essentially signed DEs David Irving and Kony Ealy in place of DE Benson Mayowa and DT Joe Vellano. O, and Jason Witten retired. Therefore … Cowboys fans, get ready because it’s more of same in ’18!
Said sameness includes and offense and defense which was mediocre to bottom half of the league in most statistical categories, save for in one significant area: Rushing. The masterful Ezekiel Elliott led his RB corps to become a top-three team in rushing yardage, TDs and yards per attempt. The offensive line, though hardly still the dominant force it was in Tony Romo’s last couple of seasons, was no. 1 by Football Outsiders’ “Power Run Blocking” metric in 2017 and is still deadly at the point of attack.
But Football Outsiders also shows that the OL is – you guessed it – average in pass protection, and herein lies a problem. Prescott was good for just 6.8 yards per attempt, 22nd best in the league and a mere 0.1-0.2 yards better than the likes of Andy Dalton, Mitch Trubisky and Jacoby Brissette. And yet somehow the Cowboys managed to finish no. 9 in offensive scoring for 2017. Crazy!
We’re figuring on another average season for the Cowboys as once again they live and die by the big play and the awesomeness of Zeke. This team could go 6-10 SU or 10-6, and if Elliott or Prescott is lost to injury, say sayonara to those yen you bet on Cowboys over 8½ wins. Do really want to be wagering money on this heart attack of a team? NFLbets thinks not.
In fact, also playing into the Cowboys’ hands for 2018 is the sheer mediocrity both New York and Washington could and almost definitely will, respectively, bring to the field.
NFLbets will say this: The wild cards (so to speak) in the entire NFC are the New York Giants. Since the 1990s, every Giants team to play in the Super Bowl came from out of nowhere. The playoff favorites in the conference – the Eagles, Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings – all appear to be well more poised for a ’Bowl run, but that’s why they call them upsets.
Such a run by the 2018 New York Giants wouldn’t require more than a 9-7 record. This team, with Odell Beckham on board from game 1 (more on Becks momentarily), went 3-13. However, the team was 0-5 SU (but 4-1 ATS, hint hint) in games decided by five points or fewer. Three extra touchdowns in games such as those – which a running back such as, likesay, Saquon Barkley might provide – gets the Giants to six wins before even considering the schedule.
Now if you’re thinking about taking the Giants over 7 wins, hang on to that credit card for one more moment. Consider this schedule, which hardly resembles a slate to be given a divisional fourth-place finisher: The Giants start with vs the Jacksonville Jaguars, at Dallas, at the Houston Texans, vs the New Orleans Saints, at the Carolina Panthers and vs Philadelphia. To get to at least 7-9, NFLbets figures that the Giants’ll have to better their 0-5 start of 2017, but this could easily be 0-6.
As for Beckham, it’s doubtful he’ll miss many games before ending his holdout (dude just doesn’t want to play preseason games, come on now) and frankly one wonders how much effect ol’ OBJ really has on this offense. Upon first glance, the answer seems obvious: Since debuting in 2014, the Giants are 21-26 in games in which Beckham catches at least one pass; they’re 5-12 in games in which he doesn’t. However, considering that half of the Beckham-catch wins came in 2016 and Odell’s other three years as a pro have seen his team no more than six wins in a season.
In the final analysis, if you want to throw a few bucks at a longshot, back the New York Giants to win the NFC East. The smartest move might be to stay away from this team altogether in these props and take them plus the points as an underdog during the regular season. “New York Giants to win 7” smells like a push to NFLbets…
Well, here’s an easy one. NFLbets wishes we didn’t have to mention this franchise, its pathetic front office and its barbarically racist team name at all. But we will take great joy in taking the stand that the best bet in this entire division is to bet Washington under 7 wins. This looks to be a bottom-5 NFL team in 2018 and should bet Washington under 7 wins.
If you’d like to chalk this prediction up to this writer’s personal dislike for the entire franchise top to bottom, fair enough. But imagining a path for Washington to get to .500 is beyond NFLbets’ amazing abilities – doesn’t a bottom-5 finish seem loads more likely…?
NFLbets’ best bets for NFC East betting:
• Philadelphia Eagles to win division at -175, preferably in a parlay.
NFLbets’ recommendations for NFC East betting:
• Washington to win under 7 games.