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2013 NFC East Preview 

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The start of the college football season kicks off the home stretch of the NFL offseason. This weekend the college game, and the long weekend, gives us something to keep our minds off the excitement of the new NFL season beginning. But don’t ignore the excitement to try and make the time go by quicker or you may miss out on some great betting opportunities. We start the NFC preview with the East division which is probably the best in the game. It is certainly the deepest and should provide the most competition from top to bottom. These teams are going to beat eachother up, making the health of these teams maybe even more important than in any other division.

Last year the Redskins came out of their bye, in Week 10, with an abysmal 3-6 record. During the bye the Redskins voted RG3 as an offensive co-captain and he did not disappoint. They rode their hot quarterback to a seven game winning streak to close out the year to win their first division title since 1999. Of course they lost to the Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs realizing they had pushed their young leader too far resulting in a knee injury that has had him sidelined from seeing the field during a game since. He will be physically ready for Week 1 but will he really be up to game speed?

How they will finish:

4. Eagles 5-11 overall, 1-5 in the division (+325 to win the division)

New coach Chip Kelly really has his hands full this year. As far as I am concerned the Eagles really only have one guy that I have any confidence in, LeSean McCoy. McCoy should thrive in the Chip Kelly offense. He is really the perfect fit, as he has been his entire career in Philadelphia. He can shake, bake and burn. He can catch passes out of the backfield. He is the most agile thing we have seen since Barry Sanders. He is going to have another monster year after a bit of a disappointing 2012.

Other than McCoy who do you really have confidence in? Vick could succeed in this offense but he could also get hurt once again leading to more Nick Foles or rookie Matt Barkley. Vick obviously isn’t the guy he once was and with so few options after McCoy, I don’t know how well they will be able to spread the ball out. DeSean Jackson is a one dimensional offensive player and he figures to be the only real threat on the outside. So basically the offense revolves around Vick’s health, McCoy’s body and then DeSean Jackson running deep routes while Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Brent Celek and a bunch of nonames handle the rest.

The defense is rather confusing as well. They have lost more talent on paper, on the defensive side of the ball, than anyone in the NFL. Both Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha have moved on from the Eagles secondary and they lost Cullen Jenkins, Derek Landri, and Mike Patterson from the defensive line. While the loss of Asomugha and DRC may be some sort of weird addition by subtraction it also may be that they just struggled in the old system. With a new coaching tree one or both may have actually helped this year. Instead this year they will turn to newcomers Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. They will be teamed with fellow newcomers Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung at the safety positions. Chung played for Kelly at Oregon so he could have a major role in that secondary but man are they rather underwhelming as a whole.

The defensive front will make the move to a 3-4 from a 4-3 set but they will be asking an awful lot out of a SF castaway and a rookie.

There are just too many new faces and too many new pieces to juggle and figure out for this team to play with any consistency this season, especially in such a difficult division.

3. Redskins 8-8 overall, 4-2 in the division (+240 to win the division)

This team's success really hinges on the health of Robert Griffin. I know, that is the most obvious statement of the year. The thing that scares me the most is that they did not get any help for that offensive line. That right tackle spot last year allowed eight sacks which is twice as many as any other lineman and 46 hurries which is more than double that of any other. If Griffin is going to avoid getting injured he better get used to running left a lot.

Speaking of running, the Skins were the NFL’s #1 rushing team last year. Alfred Morris established himself as the number one option out of the backfield early and often last year, but there are three young options to choose from at running back. They are going to need all three of them to step their game up this year to keep the hits off of RG3. Replicating that is not going to be easy with a coaching staff looking to keep Griffin out of trouble. They will get a healthy Pierre Garcon back to begin the year but they still have a lack of weapons for RG3 to attack defenses with. If Shanahan is as smart as he appears to be, they will rely heavily on the run game and their defense to win football games.

The defense is one thing that should be better than a year ago, if they can stay healthy. Saddled with salary cap woes the Redskins weren’t able to make too many moves this offseason but they were able to steal cornerback E.J. Biggers for one year $1.5M from Tampa Bay. Biggers along with Bacarri Rambo, of the steals of the draft, should help sure up the secondary, and make up for the fact that Brandon Meriweather will likely be their starting strong safety. Meanwhile the front seven will benefit big time from getting Brian Orakpo back after missing most of last season with a torn pectoral muscle.

While I like this Redskins team I think the health and hype of RG3 is too much of a gamble to think they are going to win back to back division titles. With a gaping hole on the right side he could be in for a long year. Especially since that rushing attack may have been a complete fluke. Their defense will keep most of their games close but the offense is a bit too shaky for my liking especially with a much more difficult schedule this season. Look for big things in 2014 from this group, if they can get Griffin a few weapons, or one at least. Pierre Garcon isn’t exactly a number 1 receiver.

2. Giants 9-7 overall, 3-3 in the division (+200 to win the division)

The best chance this team has is to go with the times. The Giants need to look more like Big 12 team this year. They need to put more emphasis on scoring points. Each offensive possession needs to be viewed as the most important possession of the game. They need to really dominate the air every week. With the loss of Ahmad Bradshaw and now the broken leg for Andre Brown, that leaves just David Wilson coming out of the backfield. While they will try and spell him by passing the ball it is going to be difficult to have him play in all 16 games given the workload he will be asked to carry on his 5’9 205lb frame.

I like that they brought in Cullen Jenkins to give that defensive line a boost but they are nowhere near the unit the were just a couple years ago. This offseason they lost Osi Umenyiora, Rocky Bernard, Chris Canty, Chase Blackburn, Michael Boley, and Kenny Phillips. That is a ton of pieces to replace on one side of the ball.

All of that is why the passing attack needs to be dynamic. The Giants can’t afford to have Eli be inconsistent like he was last year. They can’t afford to have injuries to Nicks or Cruz. They need Rueben Randle to step up. They have some offensive weapons in place and an offensive line that will be better after they used their first round pick on Justin Pugh out of Syracuse. This may sound a bit crazy but if Eli starts off this season like he ended last, we may see Ryan Nassib get a shot, and he could succeed.

The lack of defense and the inconsistency on offense will stop them from winning another division title but the better schedule, better offensive weapons, and RG3’s health should put them in a tie with the Redskins headed into their Week 17 matchup with Washington, where they will win at home.

1. Dallas 10-6 overall, 4-2 in the division (+250 to win the division)

First let’s start with the defense. New defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin comes in and will change their scheme from the 3-4 to the 4-3 set. That will put DeMarcus Ware in position to be as disruptive as ever in the backfield. They also got stud MLB Sean Lee back from injury. Now while the secondary may be a bit weak they might get away with it if their cornerbacks can step up their game a bit. Last offseason they paid big money for Brandon Carr and spent a high draft pick on Morris Claiborne. Both were a bit of a disappointment but both should really flourish this year under Kiffin. They could be enough to mask the fact that their safeties will likely be a revolving door.

Now I understand why people would hate this pick. They are the Cowboys. It’s Tony Romo. Cap jail stopped them from getting a whole lot better this offseason. However they did get better this offseason just based on the fact that Dez Bryant has another year under his belt. During their Week 10 Tony Romo said that Dez had “come 180 degrees, almost full circle.” Well after that rather confusing statement Dez caught 47 balls for 792 yards and 9 touchdowns, in the seven games that followed. He became the beast that we thought he would. Dez really seems to understand things now. He is going to have an absolutely monster year. Defenses will not be able to cover him especially if DeMarco Murray can stay healthy. Not to mention they drafted TE Gavin Escobar to be able to run two tight end sets, meaning defenses will need to somehow cover Dez, Miles Austin, Witten, and Escobar all the while guarding against Murray and the run. That will be nearly impossible. This offense is just loaded and I haven’t even mentioned receiver Dwayne Harris who looks to have a breakout season after spending his offseason getting in shape by chasing animals, Rocky style. Provided they stay healthy they will finally get over the hump and win this division.  

Best Bets:

Eagles +175 to finish 4th in the division

Giants to finish 2nd in the division +225

Giants to finish 3rd in the division +275

Cowboys +250 to win the division


Saturday, August 31, 2013

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