The NFC East was probably the weakest division in the NFL in 2020, but it also provided one of the more exciting divisional races in recent memory. None of the four teams even managed to reach eight wins, but all four were in contention for the division title up to the final two weeks of the season. The division seemed to belong to the Dallas Cowboys before the season began, but an early injury to Dak Prescott opened the door for everyone else, and the Washington Football Team wound up edging out the competition to earn a playoff berth.
All four NFC East teams had tumultuous seasons. The Cowboys lost their star QB, while Washington had several different players under center due to various injuries and inconsistent play. The Giants lost their star running back Saquon Barkley due to injury early in the season, too, and the Eagles had their own quarterback problems, eventually turning to Jalen Hurts late in the year. For 2021, it seems as though Dallas and Washington will be the most stable, with Prescott returning for Dallas and Ryan Fitzpatrick signing in Washington.
Super Bowl Odds: +3000
NFC Conference Odds: +1500
Team Win Total: 9 (-140/+115)
To Make Playoffs: -140
Awards Contenders: Dak Prescott (MVP +1600), Micah Parsons (DROY +500)
Week 1 Spread: +7 at Buccaneers
The most notable moment for the Cowboys in 2020 was Dak Prescott going down with an ankle injury, but even before that happened, the team was underachieving, in large part due to a non-functioning defense. The Cowboys opened the year with a low-scoring loss in Los Angeles, but after that, they gave up 30-plus points in their next four games to get out to a 2-3 start. The defense actually improved somewhat after that, but without Prescott, there just wasn’t enough talent to maintain a high-level offense, even for a team with some of the best skill players in the NFL. The Cowboys still almost made the playoffs due to the struggles of the other teams in their division, but it was clearly a disappointing season by any measure.
Dallas opens 2021 as the favorite in the NFC East once again, and if Prescott is healthy, this should be an above-average team. The Cowboys also had some offensive line injuries in 2020 and with a few players returning, it’s easy to imagine how this could be one of the best offenses in football if everyone stays healthy. Defense still figures to be a problem, however, and while divisional success may be a relatively easy road, the defense could be the thing that keeps the Cowboys out of Super Bowl contention.
Super Bowl Odds: +5000
NFC Conference Odds: +2500
Team Win Total: 8.5 (-120/+100)
To Make Playoffs: +135
Awards Contenders: Jamin Davis (DROY +750)
Week 1 Spread: +1 vs. Chargers
Expectations for the Washington Football Team were pretty low in 2020, and they opened the season winning just two of their first nine games. Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen were both underwhelming, and the first two games of Alex Smith resulted in losses, as well. From that point, however, Washington won four games in a row, and ultimately wound up with a division-leading seven wins. Obviously this couldn’t have happened in any other division, but this was still a team that played relatively well in the second half of the season, especially on defense.
The defense should be the strength of this team again in 2021, led by last year’s DROY Chase Young. On offense, Ryan Fitzpatrick will be tasked with improving the passing game, and while he’s far from a star quarterback, he may actually be a significant improvement over what Washington had in 2020. The pieces around Fitzpatrick are there — Terry McLaurin has a chance to be among the league’s best receivers if he has a competent quarterback — so all in all, this looks like a borderline playoff team for 2021.
Super Bowl Odds: +8000
NFC Conference Odds: +4000
Team Win Total: 7 (-130/+110)
To Make Playoffs: +225
Awards Contenders: Azeez Ojulari (DROY +1600)
Week 1 Spread: +1.5 vs. Broncos
The Giants’ 2020 season was even more extreme than that of the Washington Football Team, as they lost their first five games of the season and got out to a 1-7 record. The Giants then put together their own four-game winning streak — at which point they were actually the favorites to win the NFC East. Unfortunately the Giants fell apart from there, largely because of injuries to Daniel Jones that hampered his play and also caused him to miss a couple of games. The Giants did overcome a lot of adversity just to be in the NFC East hunt, with the biggest blow being an early-season injury to Saquon Barkley, but they also were only alive for a playoff berth because of how anemic the division was overall.
The competition is likely to improve around them in 2021, but the Giants should be a better team than they were in 2020, as well. Barkley is back, and the Giants added Kenny Golladay in free agency. If Jones takes a step forward, there’s a chance the Giants could be a surprise team this year, but it does seem like a lot would need to go right for them to surpass Dallas and Washington. The oddsmakers aren’t convinced, either, as the Giants have a win total set at 7, and are just +450 to win the NFC East.
Super Bowl Odds: +10000
NFC Conference Odds: +5000
Team Win Total: 6.5 (-140/+120)
To Make Playoffs: +275
Awards Contenders: Devonta Smith (+1800 OROY)
Week 1 Spread: +3.5 at Falcons
The high water mark for the Eagles in 2020 was a set of back-to-back wins over the Giants and Cowboys. At that point in the middle of the season, they were actually in first place in the division with a 3-4-1 record. The next stretch of games were subpar to say the least, and it resulted in a quarterback change from Carson Wentz to Jalen Hurts. Hurts was enticing as a duel-threat and had some great moments over the final stretch of games, but ultimately he was too inconsistent and it didn’t translate into much winning.
Quarterback turmoil and offensive line injuries were big problems for the Eagles last season, and more stability across the board should help in 2021. This still doesn’t appear to be a great team, however, and the oddsmakers have them as the projected fourth best team in an underwhelming division. They’re just +275 to make the playoffs and +550 to win the NFC East.
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