June 25, 2018 Staff Writer

NFL News

2018 NFL Betting Futures: Will Cowboys Challenge Eagles in NFC East?

You have to go back to 2004 to find the last time the reigning NFC East winner repeated as division champion the next season. That is what the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will try to do as strong -175 favorites (bet $175 to win $100) to take back-to-back NFC East titles.

For the second year in a row, the NFC East champ earned the top seed in the conference in 2017, and it obviously paid off for the Eagles en route to winning the Super Bowl. Who knows what would have happened if the Minnesota Vikings – who tied Philadelphia for the best mark in the NFC at 13-3 – would have had home-field advantage in the conference championship game. Instead, the Eagles rolled the Vikings 38-7 behind backup quarterback Nick Foles, who then went on to win Super Bowl LII MVP honors following another impressive performance in a 41-33 upset win over the New England Patriots. Philadelphia could be even better this season with starting quarterback Carson Wentz back under center after he suffered a torn ACL a year ago.

Keep in mind, the Eagles went 7-9 in Wentz’s rookie season (2016) when the Dallas Cowboys won the division with a conference-best 13-3 record. The Cowboys lost at home to the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs that year, and they are hoping to bounce back this season as the +350 second choice (bet $100 to win $350) to reclaim the NFC East after going a somewhat disappointing 9-7 in 2017.

Dallas has already made some big changes this offseason, letting former All-Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant walk as a free agent and signing Allen Hurns away from the Jacksonville Jaguars to replace him. However, the bigger loss for the Cowboys could be tight end Jason Witten, who decided to retire and had been the safety valve for quarterback Dak Prescott. But if running back Ezekiel Elliott can stay on the field (he missed six games last year), Dallas should have yet another winning campaign.

The New York Giants and Washington Redskins have much more work to do in order to compete for the division title at +700 and +750 odds, respectively. The Giants are coming off their worst season since going 3-12-1 way back in 1983. The good news is that they rebounded to make the playoffs the next season and won the Super Bowl three years later. New York hired Pat Shurmur to replace Ben McAdoo as head coach, and the team drafted what could be a franchise running back in Saquon Barkley.

Washington has an even tougher challenge after seeing quarterback Kirk Cousins leave and sign with Minnesota as a free agent. The Redskins acquired Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs to replace Cousins, although there are not many offensive weapons to help him succeed. Washington head coach Jay Gruden may have gotten a steal in the NFL Draft though in running back Derrius Guice, who was picked in the second round. Guice and Barkley could be battling for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.