2019 NFC EAST PREVIEW
By Marc Lawrence
Welcome to the 2019 NFC East division preview, with excerpts from the 2019 PLAYBOOK Football Preview Guide magazine.
In addition to the previews outlined below, these interesting scheduling statistical notes merit consideration, compliments of the 2019 MTI Regular Season NFL Win Report:
Dallas – Cowboys will face zero opponents both with a bye and coming off a bye next this season … had only one double-digit win last season … +2 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.
New York – Giants will face 4 opponents in the 2nd+ away games this season … played ‘under’ their regular season win total 7 of the last 8 years … suffered 6 wire-to-wire losses last season … +2 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.
Philadelphia – Eagles will face 3 opponents coming off a by this season… suffered 5 wire-to-wire losses last season … -6 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.
Washington – Redskins … will face 3 opponents in the 2nd + away games by this season … had 6 wire-to-wire wins but suffered 5 wire-to-wire losses last season … +7 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.
TEAM THEME: COWBOY UP
Westgate SuperBook Season Win Total: 9 (under -130)
Opponents’ Collective Season Win Total: 128.5
It’s been said that the NFL needs its mediocrity and that Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is doing his best to fill the void. Garrett’s nice-guy persona and ultra-conservative approach to the game was never more on display than last year when his play-calling continued to deny his team chances to win games. So was it any surprise when they fell to the LA Rams in the Division round of the playoffs last season? Not really, not when you consider the last time the Cowboys won consecutive games in the postseason was 22 years ago in 1996 when they last captured a Super Bowl. That team featured grit and toughness under Barry Switzer and resilient WR Michael Irvin. As Garrett enters the season on the final year of his contract, he faces a mandate to win in 2019 or else. QB Dak Prescott’s 24-3 SU mark in games in which he fails to turn the ball over is a start. Then again for the reigning division champs, maybe it’s time for this year’s edition to finally “Cowboy-up”. As our good friend and native Dallas legend Norm Hitzges said on an ESPN 30/30 documentary, “If you’re gonna be a dirty program, you better be good at it. You better understand that the group handling the dirtiness has to be committed.” Are you listening, Jason?
STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Cowboys are 2-22-1 ATS at home following a SU conference loss since 2009, including 1-18 ATS as a favorite.
PLAY ON: vs. LA Rams (12/15)
INSIDE THE STATS: The Cowboys are 37-10 SU and 31-15-1 ATS the L5Y in games where they won the stats.
New York Giants
TEAM THEME: MANNING THE FORT
Westgate SuperBook Season Win Total: 6 (under -120)
Opponents’ Collective Season Win Total: 125
Dave Gettleman is not a popular figure in the Big Apple these days. Not after the Giants GM dismantled the team and then made highly questionable moves in the NFL Draft. To paraphrase ESPN’s evaluation of the moves: The Giants traded away one of the game’s great playmakers (Odell Beckham) and one of their better pass-rushers (Olivier Vernon). They used the first-round choice acquired for Beckham on a 350-pound nose tackle, seven months after trading away a 350-pound nose tackle (Damion Harrison). They acquired a 23-year-old safety drafted in the first round (Jabrill Peppers) to replace a 25-year-old safety drafted in the first round (Landon Collins). Making matters worse, they over-reached for QB Daniel Jones with the 6th pick in the first round (he would have been available with their 17th pick later in the round). For some, it felt as if the Giants were like a basketball team sinking 2-point shots while its opponents were hitting 3s. Jones is the heir apparent to 38-year old veteran QB Eli Manning, who will likely assist in his development. The offseason additions of WR Golden Tate and OG Kevin Zeitler help, but they won’t fill the holes of the players that have departed. Meanwhile, Gettleman will be reminded on a daily basis that Kentucky LB Josh Allen at No. 6 would have been a smarter move than Jones.
STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Giants will not play consecutive road games for the first time since 1992.
PLAY AGAINST: at Chicago (11/24)
INSIDE THE STATS: The Giants are just 23-43 ITS the last four seasons.
TEAM THEME: BIRDS OF PASSAGE
Westgate SuperBook Season Win Total: 9.5 (over -150)
Opponents’ Collective Season Win Total: 123.5
Talk about putting all your eggs into one basket: the Eagles appear to be doing just that with QB Carson Wentz this season. After letting Super Bowl MVP QB Nick Foles leave via free agency, Philadelphia will depend on Nate Sudfeld should the oft-injured Wentz go down once again this season. However, if Wentz regains his health, the offense could be lethal with speedy receiver Desean Jackson returning, plus RB Jordan Howard joining the backfield. The Eagles made the most of their five draft picks as well when they landed Washington State redwood Andre Dillard to better protect Wentz, while also adding RB Mike Sanders form Penn State and WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside from Stanford. And on a sidebar note: look for former four-year Northwestern starter Clayton Thorson to secure a spot on the Eagles roster, as QB guru coach Terry Shea insists his skills were the best of any quarterback in this year’s draft. Philadelphia has three straight home games and three consecutive road games. Oddly, no other team plays three consecutive away games this season. And speaking of scheduling quirks, the Eagles will avoid playing on the road the entire month of November, with an open date wedged in between a three-game homestand. And the final four games in December come against division foes. If all falls into place, this team could be better than 2017’s Super Bowl edition.
STAT YOU WILL LIKE: It’s been 14 consecutive years since the reigning NFC East division champion (Dallas this season) has repeated.
PLAY ON: at Dallas (10/20)
INSIDE THE STATS: The Eagles are 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS after zero turnovers under head coach Doug Pederson.
TEAM THEME: CUTTING A NEW SWATH
Westgate SuperBook Season Win Total: 6.5 (under -120)
Opponents’ Collective Season Win Total: 129
After a rash of injuries wrecked the Redskins’ season last year, they picked themselves back up off the mat and slayed the draft this year. It started when QB Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State) fell into their laps with the 15th pick in the first round and just got better thereafter. DE Montez Sweat (Mississippi State) was also a steal late in the first round before they added WR Terry McLaurin (Ohio State) and RB Bryce Love (Stanford). With QB Alex Smith out for the season with a gruesome leg injury (broken tibia and fibula), Haskins will likely follow the same path as Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and ride the bench for a few games to learn the ropes behind Case Keenum until he’s ready. With free-agent DBs Landon Collins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the secondary, expect last year’s 28th ranked Opponent Completion Percentage (67.41) to make major strides in 2019. The loss of LB Reuben Foster to a knee injury in the OTA’s is a major burn, but the hope is former Steeler LB Jon Bostic can be the Neosporin needed to fill the hole left by the 25-year-old impact player. Through it all, with only one winning season under his belt, head coach Jay Gruden finds himself in the hot seat and will likely rely heavily on this year’s youth-infusion. Especially out of the gate when they take on three 2018-playoff clubs.
STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Washington is 9-0 ATS as a dog when coming off a SU favorite loss of 20 or fewer points under Gruden.
PLAY ON: vs. NY Giants (12/22)
INSIDE THE STATS: The Redskins are 4-32 SU and 5-31 ATS in games in which they are minus in TO’s.
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