Eagles look the real deal
Having previewed all four Divisions in the AFC Conference, we turn our attention to the NFC, where there are perhaps more teams holding genuine hopes of Super Bowl glory.
We start with the NFC East and this looks to be the least open of the four divisions in the conference, a genuine two-horse race which could go right down to the wire.
It is no surprise that the Philadelphia Eagles are the favourites to claim divisional honours at 5/6, given that they lifted the Vince Lombardi trophy just two seasons ago, while they made a fair fist of their title defence last time around, going down 14-20 to what had been an impressive New Orleans Saints side in the Superdome in the divisional play-off round.
Carson Wentz has proven he is a top-level quarterback and can lead the Eagles to success, while he is a co-second favourite at 10/1 to win the Regular Season MVP award.
Having let Nick Foles leave for the Jacksonville Jaguars, keeping Wentz fit for the season will be essential for Doug Pederson and to that end, the Eagles resigned three offensive lineman while also drafting Andrew Dillard with their first-round pick at 22.
The return of DeSean Jackson, as well as trading for Jordan Howard, gives Wentz a wealth of options in his offence, while the defence has also been improved with the signings of Malik Jackson and Vinny Curry.
In short, they look stacked on both sides of the ball and will certainly be courting interest in the Super Bowl Outright market at 12/1.
Dallas Cowboys surprised most last season by winning seven of their last eight games to snatch NFC East glory, and they are the “only” challengers to the Eagles this season, priced at 6/4 to retain the title.
Amari Cooper’s relationship with Dak Prescott was a vital ingredient to their success last term, and with Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, they are an obviously dangerous opponent.
However, the biggest problem for the Cowboys appears to be keeping their offensive talent happy, with Elliott set to miss the season opener (and widely expected to be more games) as he holds out for a new contract, a la Le’Veon Bell last season. Cooper’s future is also up in the air and it remains to be seen whether these issues will do anything other than upset the unity of the team, and of course their hopes for success this season.
It is pretty safe to say that the Washington Redskins and New York Giants will be playing the roles of also-rans this season, with some of the biggest odds for a divisional title that these two sides have seen for some time, 10/1 and 14/1 respectively.
Both franchises are building for the future, rather than challenging in the present, and it will be interesting to see how much game time each first-round QB draft pick gets – Dwayne Haskins for the Redskins and Daniel Jones for the Giants.
Giants fans will still be scratching their heads over the trade of star wideout Odell Beckham Jr, as well as defensive end Oliver Vernon to the Cleveland Browns, with veteran QB Eli Manning still very much part of the offensive set-up.
The offensive line needs to stand up to give either QB for the G-Men some kind of chance, although running back Saquon Barkley looks set to shoulder most of the burden either way.
Read our expert AFC North preview here
Read our expert AFC East preview here
Read our expert AFC West preview here
Read our expert AFC South Preview here
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