It’s just one month until preseason and two months until it really matters! Need to get caught up on where every NFL team stands as the season approaches? Here’s a handy preview complete with odds to let you know what to expect from each team heading into the 2017 season.
Also see: NFC West; NFC South.
The Cowboys pulled off the league’s biggest turnaround in 2016, improving from 4-12 to 13-3 and securing home-field in the NFC playoffs. But even with the team succeeding on the field, they still managed off-field drama worthy of the 80s show that shares its name with their city. The debate of Dak Prescott vs Tony Romo divided Cowboy nation, and was only truly put to bed when Romo retired after the season. Now, on the heels of a Rookie of the Year campaign (that should have gone to his teammate) Prescott leads Dallas into a season of incredibly high expectations; many oddsmakers have the Cowboys as favorites to win the NFC in 2017. Usually, that would be a sign that Dallas is going to choke, hard. But perhaps Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott can lead the team in a new direction?
Of course, last year’s stellar season meant that head coach Jason Garrett was removed from the hot seat, which is a shame. The Cowboys have struggled to win meaningful games under the reigning Coach of the Year, a narrative that grew stronger after clock mismanagement cost them their playoff game vs the Packers. Everywhere else on the roster, Dallas looks ready to challenge for a Super Bowl berth: a dominant run game, a mix of receivers that can do everything, an average defense that infused a ton of youth through the draft. Leadership is the one area that remains a question mark in the Lonestar state. With a much tougher schedule on tap for 2017, we’ll see if Garrett can guide his team to the next level, or if the Cowboys disappoint for the umpteenth year in a row.
2017 Cowboys Odds
Odds to win NFC East: 9/5
Odds to win NFC Championship: 19/4
Odds Ezekiel Elliott leads league in rushing: 5/2
Over/under first week that Jerry Jones suggests Tony Romo should un-retire: 7.5
Perhaps it will be brought on by an injury to Prescott? Perhaps he’ll just say it just to get his name back in the news cycle? But it just wouldn’t be a Cowboys season if their owner wasn’t stirring up some s**t.
NEW YORK GIANTS
After adding Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram to their offense, a lot of people are jumping on the Giants bandwagon in 2017, but that’s ridiculous! The Giants would never have a bandwagon. They’re boat people!
Jokes aside, it is tough to get too excited about the Giants receiving corps, considering that they will still be catching balls from Eli Manning. The 36-year-old has proven to be indestructible when it comes to not missing a start over his career, but time is taking a toll on his game. His downfield accuracy isn’t what it used to be, not that he’s shown an interest in standing in the pocket and taking a hit. Perhaps lacking faith in Ereck Flowers and the offensive line, Manning spent most of last season getting rid of the ball too quickly for any deep routes to develop. As a result, the Giants ranked 28th in the league big-play percentage.
Last year, we saw that New York’s dominant defense and the brilliance of Odell Beckham are enough to win football games. But if this team wants to capture its first division title in six years, they’ll need more consistency from Manning, because they won’t be getting much help from the run game. The Giants have a tough schedule, and are no lock to return to the playoffs. Yet in a season where the New England Patriots look poised to dominate the AFC once again, perhaps casual fans should be pulling for the Giants. For all his faults, goofy old Eli is somehow the only player capable of beating Tom Brady on the big stage.
2017 Giants Odds
Odds to win NFC East: 11/5
Odds to win the Super Bowl: 19/1
Odds they win the Super Bowl over the New England Patriots: 19/1
Over/under one handed catches Beckham makes in 2017: 6.5
Keep in mind, this number should be way lower. As much as this is a compliment to Beckham’s talent, it’s also a scathing indictment of Manning’s accuracy.
Remember when Carson Wentz was the talk of the NFL? The rookie showed uncanny poise leading the Eagles to a 3-0 start, and helping a team with a talent-starved offense look like real contenders. However, it turned out wins over the Browns, Bears and Steelers (who are garbage on the road without Le’Veon Bell) didn’t signify the arrival of a surprising new force in the NFL. The Eagles stumbled to a 7-9 finish, and set to work finding skill-position disciples to help their (supposed) savior this offseason. Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and LeGarrette Blount can provide some explosive plays for an offense that, despite holding the ball longer than anyone, finished around the middle of the league in terms of scoring.
The Eagles already boast a loaded front seven, so if getting rid of Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll on the corners is addition by subtraction, then Philly’s D could be truly special next season. Improvement from either the offense or defense is all it might take for the Eagles to challenge for a playoff spot: after all, they had just a 1-6 record in one-score games. With a little more talent on both sides of the ball, a few more bounces should go the Eagles’ way this season, and they should at least be in the playoff conversation as the 2017 season wraps up.
2017 Eagles Odds
Odds to win NFC East: 9/2
Odds to make playoffs: 11/5
Over/under receiving yards for Alshon Jeffery in 2017: 1049.5
Over/under receiving yards for Nelson Agholor in 2017: 210.5
Agholor may not even be getting those receiving yards with the Eagles if the former first-rounder doesn’t have a great training camp.
Last season had a disappointing end for Washington fans, as a Week 17 loss to the Giants prevented the team from securing a playoff spot. The silver lining was that their 8-7-1 record meant the team finished above .500 in back to back seasons for the first time since 1997. You would think after proving last season wasn’t a fluke, pending UFA Kirk Cousins would finally get the huge contract he deserves. But the franchise that once gave Albert Haynesworth $100 million won’t give the best QB they’ve had since Joe Theismann long-term security, franchise tagging him for the second year in a row. The team also lost receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, so Cousins will have fewer weapons available in his third-straight “show me” season.
It’s crucial that Cousins and the offense produce, because Washington’s defense is nothing special. Even with Josh Norman helping the secondary last season, they still finished 25th in defensive DVOA. Outside of Norman and Ryan Kerrigan, there are no playmakers on this unit, although additions like Jonathan Allen, D.J. Swearinger and Zach Brown should help them get off the field on third down, an area they were the league-worst in 2016.
By virtue of playing in the NFC East, Washington faces one of the tougher schedules in the league, especially since they’ll crossover against the loaded AFC West. So while they’re not a bad looking team, they could be the hard-luck losers of 2017.
2017 Washington Odds
Odds to win NFC East: 5/1
Odds Kirk Cousins signs a long-term deal with Washington next offseason: 8/3
Over/under annual value of Cousins next deal: $24 million
Apparently it was Cousins spurning the Redskins this time around, as the QB is well aware of how much value he’ll have on the open market next season. And while Washington has the money to throw around, Cousins may also see a better opportunity to win elsewhere, especially if the team struggles this season.