2013 NFL Predictions: NFC East Division Odds and Picks – Cowboys the Favorite: For the second year in a row, nobody in the NFC East wanted to take control of the division. The New York Giants lost two of their final three games to lose their grip on the division and a playoff spot, and in typical Dallas Cowboys’ fashion, Jerry Jones’ club lost its final two games of the year to also miss out on the postseason. In the end, the division title came down to the regular season finale between Dallas and the Washington Redskins, and despite playing on one leg, Robert Griffin III led the Redskins to a 28-18 victory to capture the team’s first division title since 1999. A few years ago, the NFC East was considered the toughest division in the league. The division is no longer a powerhouse, but it does remain one of the most competitive. Heading into the 2013 NFL season, here is a closer look at how the logjam that is the NFC East stacks up.
1. Washington Redskins (Prediction: 10-6)
While Washington may start the year without quarterback Robert Griffin III, or at least start without RG3 at full strength, the roster still has plenty of talent. For one, backup QB Kirk Cousins has shown he can more than hold his own under center. Meanwhile, running back Alfred Morris is back to head the Redskins’ top-ranked ground game after topping 1,600 yards as a rookie, and receiver Pierre Garcon and tight end Fred Davis are both healthy after missing time last season. Washington actually gets even more firepower back on the defensive side of the ball with pass-rushers Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker set to return. The Redskins didn’t have many great picks to work with thanks to the trade that landed them Griffin last year, but they didn’t lose much in free agency either. Washington’s power in the trenches on both sides of the ball should allow them to emerge from the NFC East once again.
2. New York Giants (Prediction: 9-7)
Missing the playoffs a year after winning the Super Bowl is never a good thing, but that was the fate of the Giants last year after a late slide. Heading into 2013, the team’s strengths and weaknesses basically remain the same. Quarterback Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl winner and can win big games, and while he tends to be turnover prone during the regular season, he has no shortage of targets with Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Myers to throw to. The X-factor for the offense is running back David Wilson, and while he has the speed to be a game changer, a poor offensive line and issues with fumbling are both concerns. On the defensive side of the ball, Jason Pierre-Paul leads a stout defensive line, but the linebacking corps remains a question mark. In the end, the Giants’ hopes rest with the play of Manning and the play of the defensive line. At their best, both have proven to be championship caliber. However, being on the playoff bubble during the regular season is a given.
3. Dallas Cowboys (Prediction: 9-7)
In terms of overall talent, the Cowboys are probably the best team in the division. However, the same was true in past seasons, and Dallas simply hasn’t gotten the job done on the field. This year’s group features playmakers like Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray on offense, and DeMarcus Ware and Brandon Carr on defense. If the Cowboys can stay relatively healthy, it will help the cause. However, something seems to missing from this current core of players that constantly causes Dallas to underachieve and finish around the .500 mark. There is no reason to expect that to change in 2013.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (Prediction: 6-10)
Philadelphia made a splash in the offseason by landing coach Chip Kelly and his up-tempo offensive system from Oregon. However, a new coach with a new offense doesn’t change the fact that the Eagles are still largely the same team that has failed to meet expectations the past two years. Michael Vick has been injury prone and a turnover machine, and he is no lock to beat out Nick Foles for the starting job. Granted, the offense line should improve with the return of Jason Peters and the addition of first-round pick Lane Johnson, but top offensive playmakers LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are as injury prone as Vick. The defense did manage to upgrade a woeful front seven by adding nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and linebacker Connor Barwin, but the secondary lost both starting corners. The reality is that Kelly is going to need at least another year to get the pieces in place to properly run his system at the NFL level.
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Odds to win the NFC East
New York Giants win NFC East +230
Washington Redskins win NFC East +275
Dallas Cowboys win NFC East +220
Philadelphia Eagles win NFC East +390
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