2016 NFC East Betting Preview

tony-romoLast year, the NFC East was easily the conference’s worst division with a combined 26-38 record. Interestingly enough, this was supposed to be a strong division with a 2 or 3-way battle for the East crown.

The only team that rose to the challenge was the Washington Redskins, who won their last four games to finish 9-7.

The Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, faltered down the stretch, losing 5 of their last 7 contests and finishing 7-9. Head coach Chip Kelly was ultimately fired after a controversy filled season, and former Kansas City offensive coordinator Doug Pederson takes over this year.

The New York Giants will also feature a new coach since they convinced Tom Coughlin to retire following a 6-10 season. Giants offensive coordinator Beb McAdoo will step up to the head coaching position.

Finally, we have the Dallas Cowboys, who vastly underachieved due to injuries, most notably to Dez Bryant and Tony Romo.

With the Cowboys healthy again, they’re our division favorites. See who can challenge them as we preview the NFC East.

NFC East Betting Odds to Win Division (from GTBets)

Dallas +280
New York Giants +200
Philadelphia +375
Washington +220

1. Dallas Cowboys: Projected Record 10-6

Dallas entered last season with Super Bowl aspirations following a 12-4 campaign in 2014. This failed to transpire, though, as QB Tony Romo missed 13 games with a broken clavicle in 2015.

ezekiel-elliott-cowboysEven now the Cowboys have to wonder what could’ve been with Romo since he was a perfect 3-0 in his starts. Dallas failed to find a signal caller who could win besides Romo, as the trio of Brandon Weeden, Kellen Moore, and Matt Cassel were a woeful 1-12. The good news is that Romo will have one of the best offensive lines in football protecting him.

The running game should also improve since Dallas drafted Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth-overall pick of the draft. The Cowboys also signed Alfred Morris to help shore up the position. The offense is rounded out by star receiver Dez Bryant, who missed several games last year, and tight end Jason Witten.

While the offense looks set, Dallas’ defense will be the big question mark. The secondary should be strong, with Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick manning the corners, and Barry Church and Byron Jones playing safety. The problem will be the front seven, though, which, beyond LB Sean Lee, doesn’t have a significant amount of talent.

Expect a renewed offensive effort from the Cowboys this year. But how far they go will depend upon how well the defense plays.

*Editor’s Note: Tony Romo will be out 6-10 weeks with a broken back bone, which will certainly affect the Cowboys’ offense early on.

2. New York Giants: Projected Record 8-8

It’s easy predicting Dallas to regain their form and win the division, but who comes next is a toss-up. We like the Giants next, who’ll transition to a new era with Ben McAdoo.

odell-beckham-jrThis transition will be made easier with Eli Manning at quarterback, who enters his 13th season with the Giants. Manning passed for a career-high 4,432 yards last season, along with 35 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

His favorite target will once again be the human highlight reel Odell Beckham Jr., who caught 96 passes for 1,450 yards and 13 touchdowns. Running back will be manned by Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams again, with free-agent addition Shane Vereen slated for passing downs.

The defense is where New York really has to improve, and they took steps towards this by signing DE Oliver Vernon, DT Damon Harrison, and CB Janoris Jenkins. If these new players gel, then the Giants could content for the division title.

3. Washington Redskins: Projected Record 7-9

Many predicted Washington to be the NFC East doormat last season, but they vastly exceeded expectations. Can they win the East again?

kirk-cousins-nflIf so, their chances hinge on QB Kirk Cousins, who earned himself a large contract after throwing for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns. His favorite targets, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, will be back again at wide receiver. Throw in tight end Jordan Reed, who has All-Pro seasons head of him, and this is a dangerous passing attack.

Unfortunately, the run game doesn’t look so dangerous after losing Alfred Morris. Backup Matt Jones was supposed to take over the position, but he has a shoulder injury right now. There’s little left to back Jones up and balance the offense out.

The defense should be a solid unit, with LB Ryan Kerrigan, and cornerbacks Josh Norma and DeAngelo Hall leading the way. It’ll be interesting to see if Washington’s $75 million investment in Norman pays off.

Washington overachieved last season, and the jury is out on if they can do so again in 2016. But they do have a friendly schedule this season and play in one of the NFL’s weaker divisions.

4. Philadelphia Eagles: Projected Record 6-10

Philadelphia is ready for a fresh start under Doug Pederson. They also drafted their quarterback of the future in Carson Wentz (2nd overall), although it’ll be Sam Bradford taking snaps to start the season.

sam-bradford-eaglesBradford will have some familiar targets in Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor, both of whom could step up this year. The Eagles also traded for Dorial Green-Beckham, who tallied 549 receiving yards in his rookie season with Tennessee.

No claims will be made about how dominating the Eagles rushing attack will be, with both Chip Kelly and former RB DeMarco Murray gone. But Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles will form a nice two-headed attack. Tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz will also help the offense quite a bit.

The Eagles brought in Jim Scwartz to coach the defense, which is a great move since he coached Buffalo to the league’s fourth-best defense in 2014. He’ll have some good players to work with, including DE Connor Barwin, DT Bennie Logan, LB Fletcher Cox, and S Malcolm Jenkins.

Anybody can win the NFC East this season, but we see Philadelphia as having the most-difficult time doing so. They’re playing under a new coach, have no star wideouts or running backs, and may feature the rookie Wentz at QB before the season is over.

DeMarco Murray’s Impact on Philadelphia’s Odds to win Super Bowl?

demarco-murray-cowboys-2014Well, the Philadelphia Eagles betting odds to win the 2015/16 Super Bowl just got a lot better with the signing of DeMarco Murray. After testing the free agent waters, the former Dallas Cowboys running back signed a 5-year, $42 million deal with Philadelphia, with $21 million of this amount being guaranteed.

It’s little surprise to see Murray get major money this season after gaining 1,845 rushing yards last year – a Cowboys’ single-season record. He also added 64 catches for 416 yards and scored 13 touchdowns.

Despite his stellar production, Dallas reportedly only offered in the $6 million range to retain Murray’s services. Like some teams around the league, the Cowboys chose not to pay a premium for a player who, up until this season, had missed time with various injuries.

As Dallas owner Jerry Jones added, the team’s salary cap is an issue here too. Here’s one excerpt from Jones’ farewell statement to his former star running back:

“We are very grateful to DeMarco Murray for his contributions to the Dallas Cowboys. He is a quality person, a very good football player, and a player that we wanted to keep.

We have great appreciation for his skills, and if there was no salary cap in place, DeMarco would be a Cowboy. This came down to an allocation of dollars within the management of the salary cap.

Obviously there is emotion involved in these decisions, but it is critical that there be must be discipline involved as well. If it were a question of having an open checkbook with no salary cap constraints, we all know things would have worked out differently. We have recently made significant commitments to top players who are currently on the team, specifically at key positions such as quarterback, left tackle and wide receiver, and we were comfortable with the offer that we made to DeMarco to include him in that structure.”

demarco-murrayIt’s interesting that Murray is going to the Eagles, given that their star back, LeSean McCoy, will now be suiting up for the Buffalo Bills. McCoy had another strong season for Philadelphia last year with 1,319 rushing yards, however, his receiving yards (155) and yards per carry (4.2) were down significantly in a new role. The hope is that Murray can provide more efficiency and youth (he’s played two less seasons than McCoy) moving forward.

Philadelphia had a very disappointing end to the 2014/15 season. After leading the NFC East most of the year, which included a 5-1 start, they faltered down the stretch and finished 10-6, one game behind the Cowboys. What especially hurt is that they dropped three of their final four contests, including losses to Dallas and Washington, to essentially give away the NFC East crown.

So head coach Chip Kelly has made sure that major changes were instituted. Besides bringing Murray in, they traded McCoy for linebacker Kiko Alonso, and also traded quarterback Nick Foles for Sam Bradford. Some have scrutinized the moves, but it’s clear that Kelly has some kind of vision here.

Now the question is if all of these major moves will pan out. Currently, GTBets.eu has Philly at 25-to-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl, however, these are likely to improve with the addition of Murray.

Philadelphia Eagles Betting: Cary Williams Angry, despite 3-0 Start

cary-williams-practice-angryFor most NFL teams, it would be high-fives and laughs in the locker room after a 3-0 start. But there’s one player in the Philadelphia Eagles locker room who’s not high-fiving anyone – especially head coach Chip Kelly.

Cornerback Cary Williams has taken exception to the grueling practices that Kelly puts the team through every week. And while he didn’t specifically throw out Kelly’s name in an interview with NJ.com, Williams referred to the “coaching staff” when discussing his concerns about the team’s weekly preparation. Here’s what he told NJ.com following a close 37-34 win over the Washington Redskins:

I was just trying to conserve as much energy during the week so I can be as effective as I can be on Sundays. It was just such a dogfight. It didn’t help that I wasn’t healthy through the week and it didn’t help that I had a dogfight before the week and then I had a dogfight during the game. It’s just tough, man. We have to start taking care of our guys, taking care of our players, doing the right thing from there.

I didn’t practice every week, there’s a reason for that. A lot of guys had no legs. A lot of guys were in a dogfight before the game even started. We have to take care of our guys during the week to make sure we’re fresh come Sundays.

In other words, we have to be smart. As a coaching staff and as players. I’m going to be honest with you: It didn’t matter if we had a short week or a long week, it’s been the same. Something needs to change for us to be more productive. It’s tough enough to go out there and play hard for 60 minutes, let alone having to fight through the week. When you don’t have legs, period, it shows up in the game. Period. Throughout the game. Period.

cary-williams-practice-angry-2I’m saying [practicing every day] impacted a lot of people. A lot of people, but I’m just the only one man enough to get up here and say anything about it, talk to ya’ll as a man and discuss an issue that, obviously, in my opinion, is an issue in our starts [to games].

But again, I’m just employee 26, and whatever they deem necessary to get us ready for Sunday is whatever it is. If we have to find energy from outside sources to start games quick, then we’ve got to do it. But right now, the way we’re doing it, it’s not conducive to success.

Williams finished his rant by saying that he thinks the overload of practice reps is really taxing on his body and disrupted his gameday preparations. He also added that he was expecting safety help on the blown coverage that led to DeSean Jackson’s long touchdown against his former team.

Interestingly enough, Williams is picking up where he left off during the offseason, criticizing joint practices with the New England Patriots. He also has a problem with the fact that Philadelphia doesn’t take Tuesday off like many other NFL teams. With as vocal as Williams has been about his team and Kelly’s methods, you can be sure that the ole’ coach had a sit-down meeting with his star cornerback. And it’s highly doubtful that this was a calm discussion either.

Colts Loss costs Fan $100k on a $5 Sports Bet

nfl-parlay-bettingWhen the Indianapolis Colts blew a two-touchdown lead in Monday night’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, they not only let their fans down but also one almost-lucky sports bettor.

A man laid down $5 on a 15-team parlay for the NFL’s Week 2 action. As many people know, it’s tough enough to win a 2 or 3-team parlay – let alone one with 15 teams. And in this instance, the guy had 32,000-to-1 odds of winning the parlay, which would have netted him a $100,000 score.

The man won his first 14 games and simply needed the Colts to come through with a victory. With the Colts taking a 17-6 halftime lead, it looked very promising. But the Eagles, led by quarterback Nick Foles, mounted an impressive comeback and ended up winning 30-27 on a last-second field goal. So basically, Indianapolis went into an 0-2 hole and cost a man $100,000. Not exactly a dream start to the season.

The Delaware Lottery, where the man placed his bet, said that nobody has won the $5, 15-team parlay since 2011. And they were within one half of seeing it happen for the first time in three years. Delaware Lottery director Vernon Kirk discussed the intense emotions with ESPN by saying the following:

Honestly, we were rooting for the guy, starting with Sunday night’s game. Our risk manager told us Sunday night that only one person had hit 14 games and needed the Bears and Colts.

It definitely looked like Delaware had a winner when the Colts were up 14 midway through the third quarter. Then to have the Eagles rally like that — and to win in the last three seconds of the game — it was agonizing to watch when you knew one player was so close to such a big payout.

It’s likely that the sports fan will always loath the Colts for costing him $100k. But in any case, his story just goes to show that winning a big NFL parlay isn’t completely impossible. However, it can be truly devastating when you win every game except for the last one!