The Dallas Cowboys’ quick and disappointing playoff exit in 2021 – a first-round loss to the San Francisco 49ers, kind of masks how good they were last season. They went 12-5, comfortably winning the NFC East behind the league’s best offense. Now, entering 2022, they’re still the favorite to take home the division crown but Vegas expects the NFC East Wins race to be much closer this time around.
The Philadelphia Eagles are the Cowboys’ top competition with the upstart Jalen Hurts leading the way while the Washington Commanders and New York Giants are further back, albeit likely to not be as bad as they were a year ago. They won’t be competing for NFC East championships any time soon but they could play spoiler to Dallas’ chances. Let’s look at the division as a whole from a wins total perspective:
Dallas Cowboys: 10½ wins (Under -125)
The Dallas Cowboys opened as nice-sized favorites to win the NFC East but have since seen their odds cross over into plus-money territory at +120 as optimism around the Philadelphia Eagles grows. Dallas’ regular-season wins total over/under is shaded to the under even if 10½ is still the most projected NFC East Wins of any of the four teams.
Is this disrespect to how good the Cowboys are? Dak Prescott is coming off an incredible season and Dallas did a good job of replacing Amari Cooper with James Washington who might not be an exact performance fit but is still an explosive weapon on the outside. Until the Eagles prove otherwise, this is Dallas’ division and the Cowboys have the most talent on both sides of the ball.
Philadelphia Eagles: 9½ wins (Over -125)
Jalen Hurts’ 2021 statistics, especially through the air, don’t necessarily jump off the page but he more than passed the eye test in his first season as a full-time starter. Plus, he now has a bonafide No. 1 wide receiver with A.J. Brown who’s now leading a scary pass-catching trio that includes DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins. Hurts has a lot of talent surrounding him.
The Philadelphia defense isn’t especially scary but it got much better this offseason with the additions of Kyzir White, Haason Reddick, and James Bradberry. The pass rush is still formidable and the improvements in the linebacking core should help with the mediocre passing defense. There’s a reason people like the Eagles to surpass their NFC East Wins expectations and have been betting heavily on them for the last few months. Philadelphia is now -165 to make the playoffs after opening at +125. That kind of momentum is hard to ignore.
Washington Commanders: 8 wins (Over/Under -115)
The success of the 2022 Washington Commanders feels like it’s going to heavily rest on the right arm of the Commanders’ latest quarterback carousel pick — Carson Wentz. After having a pretty good year with the Indianapolis Colts, Wentz now heads to Washington as the Commanders look to finally take advantage of their very talented skill-position group and defensive front-seven.
On paper, there’s no reason why Washington can’t be over .500 this season. The NFL betting odds are split down the middle of whether the Commanders will surpass the eight-win threshold and that makes sense considering how they aren’t as good as either the Cowboys or Eagles but should be better than the New York Giants. Much depends on how Wentz plays; and if he’ll be able to limit his turnovers and utilize guys like Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson, Curtis Samuel, and Logan Thomas to their full abilities.
New York Giants: 6½ wins (Under -130)
Oh, the New York Giants! They have a new coach and general manager after a disastrous 4-13 campaign in 2021 but they still have Daniel Jones under center, and he has a lot to prove after a turnover-and injury-filled season. New York’s win total has dropped down to 6½ from 7, so people are a little less confident in their chances of climbing out of the NFC East cellar.
The offense, from a personnel standpoint, doesn’t look much different than it did last season but the defense got better with the inclusion of playmaking pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. He should help inject explosiveness into a bottom-third defense.
The key for New York to be a somewhat-decent football team this year is still on the offensive side of the ball and it starts and ends with Jones and Saquon Barkley. They both need to be better but that’s far from a given.Follow us on Twitter