Another Ugly Title Fight Brewing in NFC East

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The NFC East title sometimes seems to be one that no one wants to win

Quarterback Ryan Fitzgerald has a chance to impress with Washington.

For a division once branded the more valuable in the NFL, the NFC East has been the runt of the divisional litter for the last two years, and in 2020 it was the division no one wanted to win as all four teams finished up with losing records.

The only way is up from that historic low and while the rebuilding Philadelphia Eagles are unlikely to make it into the title picture, it could be an intriguing three-way fight between the remaining teams.

The Dallas Cowboys are the 6/4 favourites to win the NFC East, with reigning champions Washington 2/1 and the New York Giants 4/1.

All three have their strengths and weaknesses, and it is far from a simple task to pick who might come out on top.

Washington the Team to Beat

There’s an argument to be made that no one in the NFC East deserved a play-off spot last year with Washington backing into the post-season at 7-9.

It was therefore a surprise when the Football Team gave the soon-to-be Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers a run for their money in the Wild Card round, particularly with Taylor Heinicke at quarterback.

That was a positive end to what had been, overall, a good year on the field for head coach Ron Rivera, with the defence the biggest plus.

A nasty defensive line, led by Chase Young, helped the Washington defence rank second overall in the NFL and they have improved with the additions of William Jackson III and Jamin Davis, amongst others.

Their defensive strength means that if they can manage to just be decent on offence, they have a chance to land the NFC East title again.

Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick has been brought in to play quarterback and has boom or bust potential with the supporting cast around him looking better than it has in many years for Washington.

Washington are 5/6 to have over 8.5 wins this year and that looks achievable, as does another NFC East title.

Dak is Back for Cowboys

The biggest threat to Washington comes from Dallas, who, as seems to be the case every year, are being talked up as potential Super Bowl contenders.

The Cowboys haven’t had a winning record in two years though, going 6-10 last year as the defence gave up the most points in franchise history.

A horrible defence should be slightly better this year, but the offence will still need to put up a lot of points to win matches.

An awful defence and Dak Prescott’s broken ankle were the two biggest reasons for Dallas’ bad 2020 campaign, but at least the quarterback’s ankle is fixed.

The 28-year-old was enjoying an excellent season before the injury and he should put up big numbers this year, bring priced at 10/13 to throw for over 4745.5 yards.

With Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Ceedee Lamb and Ezekiel Elliott at his disposal, Prescott has plenty of weapons to utilise.

Giants Need to Take a Step Forward

Despite going 6-10, the Giants nearly ended a 10-year wait for a division title last year as they took the title fight to the final Sunday.

That was a decent effort by a team under a new head coach in Joe Judge and who lost their best offensive player in Saquon Barkley early in the year.

Injuries would plague Big Blue all year, but that was also a convenient excuse for a team lacking in discernible talent on both sides of the ball, with the offence ranking 27th overall.

The jury is still out on quarterback Daniel Jones, but he does a few more weapons to utilise this year, likely making this a make-or-break campaign for the 24-year-old.

The Giants defence was average, at best, last year, ranking 15th against the run and 22nd against the pass.

They are a young unit though and there’s the potential for growth, so it’s hoped they’ll take a step forward in 2021 and put themselves in the title fight once more.

A season further on looks more likely for this Giants side to challenge for the play-offs though, and a similar theory applies to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Eagles Still learning to Fly

Just a few years on from winning the Super Bowl, the Eagles are blowing it all up, letting head coach Doug Pedersen go and replacing him with Nick Sirianniin in the off-season.

The rookie head coach has inherited a tricky situation as Philly look to overhaul a squad which contains plenty of veterans on big contracts and some bad draft picks from previous years.

Jalen Hurtz is the new starting quarterback and, while he looked strong down the stretch in 2020, a bigger sample size is needed before judgement is passed on him.

The Eagles have enough on offence and defence to be competitive this year, but taking the 6/5 on offer for under 6.5 wins looks like a bit of value for a franchise entering a rebuilding process.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor on the likes of rugby union, American Football and Formula One.
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