NFL Picks: NFC East Power Rankings

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, May 22, 2014 3:27 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 22, 2014 3:27 PM UTC

No team has repeated as NFC East champion since the Eagles won four straight from 2001-04. Every club has won the division at least once since then as well, including defending champion Philly. The Eagles are slight favorites to repeat on NFL odds.

1. Philadelphia Eagles (+175 on NFL odds to win)
I am fascinated to see what the Eagles offense can do with a year under their belts in Chip Kelly's up-tempo system. As it was, Philly ranked second to Denver in total offense, was No. 1 in rushing and No. 4 in scoring in 2013. That's what many people don't really understand -- this is a running offense first. It's just about creating open lanes. That's why I'm not sure Nick Foles is the best possible quarterback for this offense -- Marcus Mariota sure would be -- but he's the clear-cut guy now with Michael Vick a Jet. It's very unlikely that Foles has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 27:2 again and he's not going to lead the NFL in rating, either. But he looks like a keeper.

LeSean McCoy should have another monster season, but I'm not sure why the team basically gave former backup Bryce Brown away to the Bills. I realize that Philly made a terrific trade in landing running back Darren Sproles, but he's a pass-catcher and not much of a runner. The Eagles better hope McCoy doesn't go down. It's also a shame that Philly felt forced to trade top receiver DeSean Jackson because of his salary/gang affiliations. It would have been awesome to see Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, McCoy and Sproles all on the field at the same time. Clearly the key here is the defense, which again is going to be on the field a lot because those offensive possessions go so quickly.

2. Washington Redskins (+500 on NFL odds to win)
I'm having a tough time projecting the Redskins. I expected them to fall back in a big way last year and that happened. However, it does look like Alfred Morris is a major find at running back. It would seem that Robert Griffin III would be that much better this season, two years off major knee surgery. He's also ditching the knee brace. Washington pounced when the Eagles cut Jackson, and he should be a huge boost to that offense. The defense wasn't very good last year, but the Redskins signed very good defensive tackle Jason Hatcher from Dallas and franchised outside linebacker Brian Orakpo. I simply think this will be addition by subtraction: Griffin III wasn't happy playing under the Shanahans. He no doubt had a say in the team hiring Jay Gruden as the new head coach.

3. New York Giants (+300 on NFL odds to win)
This is a common theme in this division: The Giants could finish first or last and it wouldn't be a surprise. The Giants have missed the playoffs two straight years and four of the past five so Tom Coughlin is squarely on the hot seat. He probably would have been a goner after last year's 7-9 mark, the franchise's worst since 2004, if not for those two Super Bowl rings. New York's offensive line was a joke last year and the Giants tried to address it during the draft and free agency, but really nothing that knocked your socks off. Eli Manning looks like he's regressing, although following his last season of at least 25 interceptions he bounced back the next year with the second-best rating of his career. Other then receiver Victor Cruz, this offense looks bland, The defense used to terrorize QBs with its front four. Now? Blah.

4. Dallas Cowboys (+265 on NFL odds to win)
I don't have a horse in this fight, but I am openly rooting for the Cowboys to set an NFL record by finishing .500 for a fourth straight season because I want to see if Jerry Jones finally does an overhaul of his front office. I guess if I was a billionaire, I'd have an ego, too, but Jones' massive one has turned arguably the premier franchise in the NFL into total mediocrity. Teams like the Rams, Lions and maybe even Browns once Johnny Manziel starts are more interesting than the Cowboys these days. Tony Romo is only considered a superstar because he wears a star on his helmet. He's a good quarterback but coming off major back surgery. Dez Bryant is terrific but a head case at times. DeMarco Murray is overrated. The defense doesn't have a single player opposing offensive coordinators must worry about with DeMarcus Ware gone. If this team had a Vikings horn on its helmet instead of a star, it would have longer odds across the board. But it's Dallas. And once in a while (2007, '09), the Cowboys put it all together for one season.

Free NFL picks: Question marks with every team, but the Eagles offense is clearly head and shoulders above the other three clubs so they start at the top.

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