The Dallas Cowboys are currently favored to win the NFC East but behind them lies plenty of uncertainty about the other teams inside this division.
My main target in this division from a futures perspective is the Philadelphia Eagles who I think are worth a small flyer at a plus price to win the NFC East and potentially dethrone the Cowboys. Philadelphia’s offense with Carson Wentz in Year 2 at the QB position should continue to evolve and improve especially operating behind the offensive line ranked first in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.
The skill position talent on this team has improved with the addition of Alshon Jeffery at WR and Nelson Agholor appears to be an improved player early in training camp and the preseason. The ground attack is up for grabs in terms of who assumes the mantle as starting RB but the offense has the pieces in his place to be better.
The defense up front looks solid and should be able to get a pass rush but the biggest issue for the Eagles was expected to be their cornerbacks. However, the team moved to address that area with the recent trade which brought in CB Ronald Darby from the Buffalo Bills and the early returns on him are very positive.
Philadelphia was terrific early last season before right tackle Lane Johnson got injured and with him returning that will makes this offensive line an elite unit while the defense up front has the ability to harass opposing QB’s. Philadelphia has the highest ceiling of any team in this division outside of Dallas and for that reason, I think the Eagles as a value bet to win the division is something to consider.
I don’t feel the same optimism for the Washington Redskins–a team that I’ve already bet Under 7.5 wins with the current price on that at approximately -120. Washington’s offense including QB Kirk Cousins didn’t play well at all late last season when a spot in the playoffs was on the line and the No. 1 offense has looked every bit as sluggish so far in two weeks of the preseason.
Washington lost Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson at WR in the offseason and Garcon’s departure hurts because of the fact Cousins targeted him a lot last year. The receiving corps for the Redskins is very much a question mark as it is led by Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder and Terrelle Pryor. Jordan Reed has battled injuries at TE. The RB corps is very weak by NFL standards. The defense is rebuilding a bit after finishing a woeful 28th in the NFL in yards allowed last season.
The Redskins spent many of their draft picks on defense and the secondary and LB corps appear to be better but up front there is still some depth concerns and the defense has a lot of ground to make up. The worst thing of all for Washington is their schedule. It’s a beast as six of their first eight opponents are teams expected to contend for the playoffs this year (vs. Philly twice, Oakland, Kansas City, Dallas and Seattle). I expect this team to struggle to hit the .500 mark.
On to college
The Big 12 conference is very top heavy and highlighted by four teams that I think have very real potential to contend for supremacy– Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Kansas State. Those are the top four teams in the Big 12 futures market to win the conference all of them priced at 10-to-1 or lower.
I believe that Oklahoma State, Texas and Kansas State all have the potential to be money makers and ATS darlings this season. For the purposes of looking at this conference from a futures perspective, I believe Oklahoma State and Kansas State have tremendous value. The Cowboys will have an explosive and dynamic offense led by QB Mason Rudolph who should have a very strong season.
The offensive line is very good and the receiving corps is one of the best in the country. The defense has some experience to replace but a lot of the recruits coming in are very good players so I think the stop unit could outperform what some people expect. Oklahoma State does have to travel to Texas and West Virginia but they get the Bedlam showdown against Oklahoma in Stillwater. This team has it in them to upend the Sooners for this conference crown.
Kansas State is an interesting value option at that 10-to-1 price. The Wildcats return a large portion of the team that won 9 games last season making them a candidate to improve on that record this season. Jesse Ertz returns at QB and should be much improved with more playing experience under his belt.
The Wildcats also return a solid offensive line that should be one of the best in the Big 12. There are a couple key pieces to replace on defense but they were strong on that side of the ball last season. I expect Bill Snyder’s squad to be a winning ATS pointspread team this season.