The NFC East will have several interesting story lines this season, the biggest arguably coming with the intra-division trade of Donovan McNabb. The Eagles will face their former star quarterback twice, and are looking to improve despite trading McNabb and cutting Brian Westbrook. The Cowboys are looking to repeat their division title, and the Giants are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 8-8 finish after a promising 5-0 start.
Here is an early look at the odds to win the NFC East:
All Odds Taken From Bodog and Bookmaker, be sure to shop around for the best price.
Dallas Cowboys (+130)
The Cowboys didn’t have many needs going into the offseason, and they basically addressed all of them. They re-signed wide receiver Miles Austin, who has emerged as the top wideout in Dallas. They also added Dez Bryant to form a dangerous receiving corps of Roy Williams, Austin, Bryant, and Patrick Crayton.
Add Jason Witten to the mix and Tony Romo has a lot of options in his passing game. The offensive line is solid despite the loss of left tackle Flozell Adams. The Cowboys cut Adams in the offseason and will most likely move Doug Free to left tackle. They also traded for former Ram Alex Barron and drafted Sam Young. Their offensive line depth is solid.
Dallas picked up Akwasi Owusu-Ansah out of Division-II Indiana at 126. The defensive back is talented enough to start at free safety and could move to cornerback. He also adds a new dimension to the Cowboys’ return game, where Crayton did a good job last season, but was a little careless with the ball at times.
The Cowboys’ biggest problem is their coach. Wade Phillips consistently manages to put the team in bad positions when it counts, and just isn’t the type of leader the Cowboys need. Jerry Jones kept the core of the team intact, and Dallas will definitely be in the mix for the division title.
New York Giants (+250)
The Giants had a great start to the season in 2009 and then imploded. After winning their first five games, they ended up with an 8-8 record and missed the playoffs. They did play tough teams, but they suffered an inexcusable 41-9 loss at the hands of the Panthers with the season on the line.
Eli Manning didn’t take care of the ball very well and threw 14 picks. He needs to get back to his Super Bowl form to carry this team. They still have a great backfield with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. They’re receiving corps is solid, but lacks a real playmaker.
They added free safety Antrel Rolle through free agency to improve their secondary. They also drafted Chad Jones and signed Deon Grant to solidify the strong safety position. Jason Pierre-Paul should help their defensive line, which had problems putting pressure on the opposing quarterback with Osi Umenyiora struggling.
The Giants need to put up a better effort than in the second half of last season. They need Tom Coughlin to get everybody on the same page to return to their early-2009 form. New York faces another tough schedule, and they need to step up their game to get back to their winning ways. In this wide-open division, they do have a shot at the title.
Philadelphia Eagles (+275)
The Eagles cut ties with two long-term impact-players and fan-favorites in Philadelphia – Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrooke. And I think it was the right decision to improve their chances to win the division and go on a deep playoff run.
They will give Kevin Kolb a shot at quarterback, and the signal-caller has shown he can deliver. He became the first NFL quarterback to throw for 300+ yards in his first two starts. He has shown that he has the accuracy and the arm needed to be successful in the league.
The team’s offense is one of the most electrifying in the league. Young stars LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin are a tough match for any defense. Add Brent Celek’s solid numbers at TE to the mix, and you have a great offense. Mike Vick’s role remains in question, but he showed flashes of his old self late in the 2009 season.
The Eagles improved their defensive line by Brandon Graham and traded for Darryl Tapp. They also improved their secondary drafting FS Nate Allen and CB Trevard Lindley as well as signing safety Marlin Jackson.
Their biggest concern is the offensive line that allowed too many sacks against McNabb last season. They have yet to address this need in the offseason, and that could spell trouble for new starter Kolb. Nonetheless, they have a shot at winning the division and are an interesting pick at +275.
Washington Redskins (+500)
The Redskins – for the first time in many years – have a real quarterback. Yes, Donovan McNabb is getting older and was basically given the boot in Philadelphia, but he can have an impact on this offense. They passed up on Russel Okung to pick OT Trent Williams with the fourth pick of the 2009 draft.
While Williams reportedly is the better pick for the Redskins’ scheme, I don’t understand this move. Okung is the best tackle in the draft and Williams struggled a little when he was moved to left tackle at Oklahoma. They traded for left tackle Jammal Brown, which could mean that Williams will see the majority of snaps at RT.
The Redskins had only one pick in the first three rounds and didn’t get a lot of talent out of this year’s draft. They have aging running backs in Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson. I don’t expect a lot from their ground attack.
While signing McNabb was a good move, the Redskins don’t have enough talent on offense around their new signal caller. They will improve, but – in this tough division – they are not good enough to end up on top.
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