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2020 Betting Review: NFC East

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2020 Betting Review: NFC East

I wanted to do quick-hitting postmortem reports on every team since I spent so much time — about 2000 words and hours of research per team — breaking down all 32 franchises from a betting perspective this summer. These articles also gave me a chance to do a full accounting of all my off-season/preseason Best Bets. Here were the overall results for my NFL Futures with individual results for each NFC East team below.

NFL Futures

For a full rundown of my NFL Futures from the off-season/preseason click here.

  • OVERALL BEST BETS — 27-24 (+16.76 units)

  • Season Wins — 8-0 (+11.98 units)

  • Season Futures — 4-9 (+2.91 units)

  • Season Player Props — 7-7 (-2.22 units)

  • Draft Props — 8-7 (+4.09 units)

  • Every Team Season Wins — 20-12 (62.5%)

  • Outstanding Wagers: New Orleans Saints — NFC (.5 unit at +650) & Super Bowl (.5 at +1200); Tennessee TitansDerrick Henry MVP (.25 at +7500)

NFC East Reviews

*Playoff team*

1. *Washington Football Team (7-10, 10-7 ATS)*

  • Division Odds: +2200

  • Playoff Odds: +700

  • Best Bets: None

  • Leans: Over five wins (win, 7-9)

What went right

Ron Rivera’s first season in Washington was a smashing success as they made the playoffs with the second-longest postseason odds at +700 — only the Jaguars had longer odds at +800. The Football Team also easily had the longest odds of the eight division winners at +2200. They became just the third team in NFL history to win a division with a losing record — the 2014 Panthers and 2010 Seahawks did it before them. Washington drafted the cornerstone for its defense for the next decade by selecting Chase Young with the second overall pick. He helped them to finish sixth in sacks (47), fifth in yards allowed per game (316.5), and fifth in points allowed per game (21.2).

What went wrong

Washington mostly had a season to remember on the field, but the organization faced plenty of adversity off the field. The Football Team won their first NFC East title since 2015 all while their owner Daniel Snyder was embroiled in controversy. The organization also finally underwent a name change after 87 years with the “Redskins” moniker. They capped their year by cutting ties with 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins after an embarrassing start to his NFL career. He threw for just 12 TDs and 14 INTs while averaging 6.3 YPA in 16 career games. His immature behavior in two seasons also caught up to him. He finally broke the camel’s back after being caught maskless at a strip club following their Week 15 loss to the Seahawks, which eventually led to his release. The Football Team desperately needs to improve their quarterback situation this off-season after cycling through Haskins, Kyle Allen, Alex Smith, and Taylor Heinicke this season.

The game they stole

Washington ended the Steelers’ hopes for a perfect regular season in Week 13 after Pittsburgh opened the season with an 11-0 record. The Football Team overcame a 14-point first half deficit to knock off the undefeated Steelers 23-17 as six-point road underdogs. Washington’s win probability didn’t creep above 50% until under five minutes remained in the game as they slowly climbed back into the game with its suffocating defense. Ben Roethlisberger averaged just 5.8 YPA while Pittsburgh’s running backs managed just 13/20 rushing (1.6 YPC). The victory catapulted the Football Team into the driver's seat in the NFC East for the final four weeks of the season, which they wouldn’t relinquish.

The game that got away

The Football Team rallied back from a 21-point deficit in the middle of the third quarter to tie the Lions with 16 seconds left in Week 10. Unfortunately, they squandered their chance to win the game in overtime by giving up 15 yards on a Young penalty and 19 more yards through the air to set up Matt Prater’s game-winning 59-yard field goal. Alex Smith posted a season-best 390 passing yards in the losing effort and he cemented his spot as the team’s top option at quarterback for the rest of the season.

What to look for this off-season

The Washington organization figures to have yet another eventful off-season as they’ll begin the process of finding a new name and logo for the club. Washington could still need another year or two to finish the process as they’ll have to work through the trademarking process. Snyder also continues to find himself in the crosshairs for his behavior as the team’s owner. The calls for his ouster will likely continue to grow until he’s actually replaced as the majority owner.

On the field, the biggest question is who will be leading this offense in 2021 and beyond after they cycled through four different starters this season (Haskins, Allen, Smith, and Heinicke). Luckily for Washington fans, Rivera is likely to keep Snyder out of the decision-making process this time around. Snyder led the charge to draft Haskins in the first round in 2019 just like he traded away a small fortune to move up to select Robert Griffin in 2012 — Snyder also pushed to trade for Donovan McNabb in 2010. Washington will be picking 19th overall this spring after winning the NFC East title. They’re prime candidates to make a move for a veteran quarterback in search of a change of scenery, especially since they have a defense built to win in the present.

2. New York Giants (6-10, 9-7 ATS)

  • Best Bets: Under 6.5 wins (win, +1.2 units, 6-10)
  • Leans: None.

What went right

Joe Judge took some outside jabs for taking a disciplined approach with his young team in his first season as head coach of the Giants. He most notably got mocked for his “laps for lapses” approach in training camp, and it didn’t help that the Giants got off to an 0-5 start for the second time in four seasons. In the end, Judge’s tactics won out and he helped the Giants to finish just one game out of the NFC playoffs as they finished the season by winning five of their final eight games. The Giants lost 10+ games for the fourth straight season — the third straight with GM Dave Gettleman in charge — but this off-season feels a bit different after Judge seemingly laid a strong foundation for the organization in his first season.

What went wrong

The Giants reached six wins this season despite their best offensive weapon tearing his ACL in Week 2 and despite their potential franchise quarterback showing no signs of progress in Year Two. Saquon Barkley played in just one-plus games this season after struggling through a high-ankle injury for a major chunk of 2019. Barkley’s absence deprived the offense of a game-breaking option, which certainly didn’t help second-year quarterback Daniel Jones. The Giants finished their first season without Eli Manning and the question still remains unanswered if Jones is the future of the position for the Giants after a lost sophomore season. The Giants dug themselves an insurmountable hole with their 1-7 start to the season, and Jones dealt with hamstring and ankle injuries in the second half of the season when he started to show incremental progress from the beginning of the season. Jones continued to struggle with turnovers with 10 INTs and six lost fumbles in 14 games after turning the ball over 23 times in 13 games as a rookie.

The game they stole

The Giants put themselves in a position to win the NFC East with their 23-19 victory over the Cowboys in Week 17. The Eagles eventually crushed their hopes by tanking against the Football Team in the season finale on Sunday night. If the Giants would’ve won the NFC East this season, they would’ve been the first six-win team to qualify for the postseason in a 16-game regular season and the first to do so after starting 1-7. The Cowboys did their part to give away the game with Mike McCarthy bungling a late challenge situation and with CeeDee Lamb dropping a late pass, which would’ve set up Dallas inside the 10-yard line late in the game.

The game that got away

The Giants could’ve taken their postseason hopes out of Philly’s hands in the season finale if they had held onto an 11-point lead against the Eagles with five minutes remaining on Thursday Night Football in Week 7. Few would’ve guessed at the time that the game would be so consequential for the Giants as New York dropped to 1-6 after the loss before finishing the season with a 5-4 record in their final nine games. Evan Engram dropped a pass late in the game that would’ve essentially iced the victory for the Giants, but the Eagles instead gained another possession to win the game. Engram’s drop spoiled Daniel Jones’s memorable 80-yard scamper in which he tripped over his own feet before reaching the end zone.

What to look for this off-season

Jones is going to get another crack to show he’s the future of the franchise in 2021, but the Giants should bring in more competition behind him than current backup Colt McCoy. They’d also be wise to grab Jones a true #1 wide receiver either through free agency or with the #11 overall pick in the draft. Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Darius Slayton are fine secondary options, but Jones could use a real difference-maker on the perimeter. The Giants also need to find a secondary pass rusher to complement Leonard Williams. The former Jet came into his own with a career-high 11.5 sacks, but the Giants didn’t have a single player post more than four sacks next to him last season.

3. Dallas Cowboys (6-10, 5-11 ATS)

  • Best Bets: Dak Prescott over 4200.5 passing yards (loss, -1 unit, 1856 yards)
  • Leans: Over 9.5 wins (loss, 5-11)

What went wrong

The Cowboys had very little go right for them this season in Mike McCarthy’s return to the head-coaching ranks, but Dak Prescott’s catastrophic leg injury in Week 5 takes the cake for the worst injury of the 2020 season. Prescott, who was in a contract year, was easily headed toward the best campaign of his five-year career with 1856 passing yards and nine TD passes in four-plus games. Dallas’ once-dominant once offensive line also cratered because of injuries, which heavily contributed to Ezekiel Elliott’s career-worst season — he averaged just 65.3 rushing yards per game. DC Mike Nolan also proved to be in over his head as his defense allowed 29.6 points per game (5th-most) and 386.4 yards per game (10th-most). It wasn’t a surprise to see the Cowboys fire him at the conclusion of the season. Dallas has already hired former Falcons HC Dan Quinn to be his replacement.

What went right

The Cowboys were lauded for nailing the draft in the spring of 2020 and the early returns were pretty promising for Dallas in Year One. CeeDee Lamb looked like a legitimate superstar right out of the gates, posting 29/433/2 receiving in five games with Prescott. He needed 45 catches and 11 games to get his final 502 yards and three touchdowns, but it wasn’t his fault as the Cowboys’ offense was in the wilderness for long stretches with the likes of Andy Dalton, Ben DiNucci, and Garrett Gilbert at quarterback. Second-round pick (and Greg Cosell favorite) Trevon Diggs closed out the season strong after a slow start to the season. Safety Donovan Wilson also made a big leap in his second season to give this secondary some hope for the future.

The game they stole

The Cowboys fumbled four times and they trailed by 20 points to the Falcons in the first quarter in Week 2, but Atlanta bungled away a near-certain victory in the fourth quarter to Dallas. The Falcons led by 15 points with eight minutes remaining in the game and they owned a 99.9% win probability with 2:33 remaining in the contest with a nine-point lead before bungling away a 40-39 loss. In Dallas’ comeback effort, Dak became the first quarterback to throw for 400 yards and to run for three touchdowns in the same game.

The game that got away

The Cowboys had a miserable season all the way around, but they could’ve wiped away some of the sting from 2020 with a victory over the Giants in the season finale, which would’ve put them in a position to make the playoffs. They ultimately would’ve missed out on the postseason with the Eagles tanking against the Football Team on Sunday Night Football. McCarthy failed to challenge a call that forced them to try to score a touchdown on the final drive instead of attempting a potential game-winning field goal. Lamb also had a critical late drop — one of five on the day for the Cowboys — which would’ve put the Cowboys in position to score the game-winning touchdown. The Cowboys might ultimately be winners in the long run since they locked in the 10th overall pick with the loss but, nonetheless, it was a demoralizing end to a demoralizing season.

What to look for this off-season

Prescott’s contract negotiations will be great theater this off-season. The Cowboys’ higher-ups and Prescott’s party have failed to reach a long-term contract in the last two off-seasons. The big question is will the third time be the charm? Dak will be entering 2021 coming off a devastating leg injury but his value may have gone up after the Cowboys stumbled all over themselves after he went down for the season. The Cowboys could also franchise tag him again at around $38 million for next season. Dallas is unlikely to let him walk to another franchise so retaining him will come at the expense of other players on this roster, which will be a secondary story to follow.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1, 6-10 ATS)

  • Best Bets: Zach Ertz under 924.5 receiving yards (win, +.91 units, 335 yards); Carson Wentz over 3800.5 passing yards (loss, -1 unit, 2620 yards); Jalen Reagor +4000 OROY and over 650.5 receiving yards (losses, -1.25 units, 396 yards)
  • Leans: Under 9.5 wins (win, 4-11-1)

What went wrong

Let’s get to what went wrong with the Eagles first because it opened the doors for what went right later in the season. Carson Wentz became arguably one of the worst starting quarterbacks after being drafted as a consensus top-12 quarterback in fantasy drafts this summer. He posted career-worst numbers across the board in completion percentage (57.4%), interceptions (15), and YPA (6.0) before getting benched for the final four games. Wentz’s disastrous 2020 campaign culminated in him being a healthy scratch in Week 17 to avoid him stepping onto the field one last time before they potentially try to trade him this off-season.

What went right

Wentz’s demise opened the door for second-round pick Jalen Hurts to play, and the 2019 Heisman runner-up surprised most with his strong performances in the final four weeks of the season — he certainly caught the Saints off guard in his first career start. Hurts averaged 68.0 rushing yards per game and 6.9 YPA in his four starts to end the season. If the Eagles do move on from Wentz, he’ll be a fascinating player to monitor in fantasy drafts this summer because of his limited sample size but his highly coveted rushing ability. The Eagles have cratered since their 2017 Super Bowl victory and few would’ve guessed they could be potentially starting a rebuild around someone other than Wentz heading into 2021.

The game they stole

The Eagles grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory when they went full “Trust the Process” in Week 17. They improved their draft standing and they allowed the Football Team to win NFC East for the first since 2015 with their 20-14 loss to Washington (they did cover at least). Hey Eagles, a lot of teams tank in Week 17 or for entire months of the season like the Jaguars did when they benched Gardner Minshew. Next time they should try to be a little less overt and play their third-string quarterback for the entire game or at least for the entire second half if they want to tank a game like the rest of the league has figured out.

The game that got away

Perhaps the Eagles’ season would’ve played out a little differently if they hadn’t tied the lowly Bengals in Week 3 after starting the season with two losses to the Rams and the Football Team. HC Doug Pederson played for the tie when faced with a fourth-and-7 from the Bengals 42-yard line with just 19 seconds left in the game. Pederson’s decision not to trust Wentz and his offense to try to win the game set the tone for the rest of the season.

What to look for this off-season

The Eagles hold one of the biggest quarterback dominoes for the entire off-season with Wentz and his massive contract, which has four years remaining on it to the tune of a $32-million-per-year average. Wentz started the process of getting shipped out of town when reports came out that his relationship with Pederson was fractured beyond repair. However, he may still have a future with the franchise after owner Jeffrey Lurie fired Pederson a week after the season ended. Hurts certainly showed some promise in the final month of the season, and the Eagles could still look to build around him and his rookie contract this off-season. The Eagles will have some pivotal decisions to make early in the off-season, which will all have to wait until they have a new coach in place.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.

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