NFL Division Betting: The Cowboys Are the Class of the NFC East
The calendar has hit June, which means we're just two months away from preseason football. Yeah, I'm excited too.
With the draft that saw a record amount of money bet behind us, it's time to look forward to the upcoming season. Luckily, FanDuel Sportsbook has well north of 150 props already available for you to choose from.
With this series, I'm going to go division by division and come up with my favorite picks to take home the divisional crown -- as always, the goal is to find some value.
Here's a look at the team I'd bet on to win the NFC East.
NFC East Overview
This piece will be focused on two teams -- the Dallas Cowboys (-105) and Philadelphia Eagles (+140). For reasons you'll see in just a bit, the New York Giants (+900) and Washington Redskins (+1300) are not worth wasting money on.
Both Dallas and Philly have each won the East 3 times in the last 7 years and 9 times in the last 26 seasons -- that's 69 percent of the last 26 division titles belonging to one of these two teams. The teams have nearly identical records since 2009, with the Cowboys coming in at 97-79 and the Eagles at 98-78.
Despite just a 9-7 record, the Eagles won the East last year, thanks to a 15-33 record from the rest of the division. If the schedule is any indication, nine wins won't come close to cutting it in 2020.
|Team||Overall Strength |
|Games vs. Teams |
With O/U ≥ .500
|New York Giants||0.529||12||0.52|
Not only do the Cowboys have the easiest schedule in the East, but they also have the second-easiest slate in the league, according to Brandon Gdula's schedule rankings -- where he utilizes numberFire's nERD metric in conjunction with FanDuel Sportsbook's win totals. Per Gdula, Dallas is tied for the third-most games with a nERD advantage, at 14 -- 4 more than Philadelphia. Within the NFC, the Cowboys are also tied for the second-fewest games against teams with current over/unders at or above 8.0.
In my book, not many teams had a better offseason than the Cowboys.
While his message with the Green Bay Packers may have gotten stale, newly-anointed head coach Mike McCarthy could be looking at an Andy Reid-like rejuvenation. McCarthy's Packers won double-digit games 8 times in 13 seasons, compared to just 3 such seasons for the Cowboys in Jason Garrett's 10-year tenure.
The Cowboys wasted no time addressing a defense that ranked 18th in both Adjusted Defensive Passing and Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play. Defensively, the team added defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and former pass-rushing star Aldon Smith in free agency, as well as cornerback Trevon Diggs and defensive tackle Neville Gallimore in the draft.
Seeing as though their offense ranked top-three in Adjusted NEP per play, Rushing Adjusted NEP per play, and Passing Adjusted NEP per play, Dallas didn't really need to fret much about their offense. Yet the team managed to add wideout CeeDee Lamb -- a yards-after-the-catch monster -- in the draft. Many, including myself, had Lamb as the best receiver in the draft.
This is a team primed to win a whole bunch of contests in 2020.
The 2019 NFC East Champs also had themselves an offseason to get excited about.
Philly's defense was excellent against the run last year, coming in fourth in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play. However, they were just atrocious against the pass at times, finishing the season 23rd in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. The latter should change in 2020.
The Eagles -- who will already be returning star defensive tackle Malik Jackson from injury -- traded for Detroit Lions lockdown corner Darius Slay and signed slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman, safety Will Parks, and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave.
Philadelphia's passing offense needed just as much of an influx as their counterparts on the defensive side. Among wideouts with at least 40 targets, the 2019 Eagles didn't have a single receiver inside the top 50 in Reception NEP per reception, Target NEP per target, or Reception NEP per target. That resulted in not a single receiver on their roster reaching any of 50 catches, 500 yards, or 5 scores.
The team addressed that hole by tripling-down on the position in the draft, selecting Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, and Quez Watkins. The team also took a flyer by trading for San Francisco 49ers' speedster Marquise Goodwin. The return of DeSean Jackson also can't hurt.
Given the combination of schedule and talent, it would be hard for me to bet against the Cowboys.
numberFire's Power Rankings currently has Dallas as the fifth-best team and project them to win 10 games in 2020. Our model gives them a 53 percent chance of winning the division, though I'd be willing to dish out an even higher number.
Even at -105, I'll take the Cowboys here.