With the season a few weeks away we’ve seen the New York Giants brawling in the sand box, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott resting a right latissimus strain, and the Philadelphia Eagles having us wondering what an entirely new coaching staff will bring to the table. That leaves the Washington Football Team looking to be the ones to beat in the NFC East.
But then … things got a little more interesting. On Wednesday, news started circulating that we could see a potential trade involving Deshaun Watson to the Eagles. I’m still not convinced we’ll actually see Watson play this season but trade talks are heating up. For now, I’m sticking with the assumption that where the Eagles stand now is where they will be in a few weeks.
New York Giants
I was initially thinking that I really like the OVER 1000.5 (-110) receiving yards on the season for WR Kenny Golladay. He’s entering the season with 16.9 yards per reception and 10.6 yards per target. Golladay played only five games in 2020 but surpassed this total in both 2018 and 2019. The problem with that is those numbers were created with a different quarterback in Matthew Stafford and on a different team with the Detroit Lions.
What does Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett like to do? Run the ball. The Giants last season were 19th in rushing yards and 29th in passing yards and that was with RB Saquon Barkley having played just two games.
Why did I initially think I’d like this prop? QB Daniel Jones is (if you can believe it or not) pretty good at throwing the ball downfield. Jones was second in the league in completion rate of throws of 15 yards or more. But coaching. And who is back and healthy? Barkley. To further crush this thought, no wide receiver has hit even 800 yards receiving in the last two seasons with Jones behind center. Can’t trust Garrett to utilize the strength of his quarterback and for that reason, I’m looking to the UNDER seven wins (-130) for the Giants' season win total.
I like this option better because in the last three seasons, the Giants have had five, four and six wins. Yes, they were unhealthy last season. Yes, they have players back (Barkley) and added some weapons (Florida WR Kadarius Toney) but they still have Garrett calling plays. He is a proven run-heavy coach.
Per Warren Sharp’s 2021 NFL preview, the Giants passed the ball on only 49% of early downs in the first half of games. The NFL average was 54% pass. Even after losing Barkley last season, Garrett still insisted on the run.
This year, the Giants are expected to face the second-most difficult schedule of passing defenses and the fourth-most difficult schedule of defenses overall. What we could see: Jones having difficulty throwing and Garrett calling for more run plays.
Best Bet: Giants UNDER 7 wins (-130)
Things can’t get any worse than Carson Wentz, right? I’m going with no and that this could be the year things start turning around for this team. Last year, heading into the season, the Eagles had one of the best offensive lines. They were all injured and played zero games together as a unit. Last year, heading into the season, the Eagles had a solid wide receiver corps — Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Jalen Reagor — all were injured and played zero games together. The last hope for this offense was with the tight ends. Zach Ertz got injured in Week 6 and Dallas Goedert was injured after just two games.
Plagued by injuries, last year’s Eagles team lost their offensive line, wide receivers and tight ends… and had Carson Wentz as a quarterback.
When you’ve hit the bottom, all that is left is up. This season, the Eagles have a new head coach, new offensive coordinator, a new defensive coordinator and what could be an improved quarterback in Jalen Hurts. Plus, the Eagles are predicted to play the third-easiest schedule in the league. The real question is, can this team stay healthy to capitalize?
Washington Football Team
I really like this team this year. It is +200 to win the NFC East and +120 to make the playoffs and those are both definitely on the table. Some tidbits that could be useful for the season: Last year, the Washington Football Team faced the ninth-toughest schedule of rushing defenses and still managed to collectively put together 18 rushing touchdowns.
This year, they face the 10th-easiest schedule of rushing defenses and play 10 games against opponents ranked in the bottom half in defending rushing touchdowns. For reference, these 10 teams allowed 163 of the 532 total rushing touchdowns scored last year (about 30%) and allowed 41 from quarterbacks of the 125 total scored, nearly a third.
What this means: that an anytime touchdown rushing prop could come in week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers. Last year, the Chargers gave up 17 total rushing touchdowns, seven of which were to quarterbacks. A Fitzmagic anytime touchdown and/or an Antonio Gibson/Jaret Patterson anytime touchdown is on the table. Then definitely again in Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills. Where we could see rushing touchdowns galore is Week 8 through Week 17.
From the Warren Sharp 2021 NFL preview, “Dallas futures lines are always inflated — betting them under their win total since 2000 has gone 14-7 (67%).”
Honestly, that’s good enough for me. Last year, Dallas had a pretty horrible defense. The Cowboys were 30th in opponent yards per rush attempt, 21st in opponent yards per pass attempt, 28th in opponent points per play and 27th in opponent third down conversion percentage.
They brought in former Falcons head coach Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator but his former team ranked 27th, 24th, and 29th in opponent yards per play the last three seasons. I’m not convinced this defense will be much improved.
With quarterback Dak Prescott already suffering an injury to his throwing shoulder, I’m holding back on expectations despite all the offensive weapons this team has. Taking the wait-and-see approach is never a bad thing.
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