Always competitive and loaded with talent, the 2013 NFC East division race is going to be a tight one just as it was in 2012. Many speculate that the team that can keep their QB healthy is going to be the one that wins it. With that said, pundits and oddsmakers are both in favor of the Giants taking the division crown in 2013.
New York Giants
Led by veteran quarterback Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl winner who hasn’t missed a game since taking over the starting spot in 2005, New York seems to fit the criteria most think it will take to win this division. But while Eli has been fairly reliable the past few seasons, the 2013 New York Giants have concerns on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football.
The loss of like RB Ahmad Bradshaw and DE Osi Umenyiora to free agency is bound to open a few gaps. Still, the Giants have a good, young nucleus with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz running routes along with now second year RB David Wilson who showed signs of being quite explosive in his rookie season.
Put it all together and the bookmakers think they have got a division winner at 2 to 1 (+200) odds to win the 2013 NFC East.
The Washington Redskins will attempt to repeat as NFC East champions in 2013 but their odds have them in a tie for 2nd place going into the exhibition schedule – 12 to 5 (+240).
While the road to repeating will not be easy, the first hurdle they must clear is whether 2012 Offensive RoY Robert Griffin III’s repaired knee will hold up – Griffin has already said he will play all of 2013 in a knee brace. In winning the division in 2012, the Redskins led the NFL in rushing yards per game with RGIII and then-rookie Alfred Morris.
The positive note for the Redskins is that they will have two young talented players back on the defense after losing them for most of last season – Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.
The team also acquired WRs Devery Henderson and Donte Stallworth who try to provide a vertical threat in the passing game to not only bolster the air attack but to also stretch the defense for those big runs we saw in 2012.
Also tied for 2nd place to win the division are the Dallas Cowboys sitting at 12 to 5 (+240) odds. And also like RGIII in Washington, Tony Romo is currently recovering from his own off-season surgery.
The Cowboys will also have a new play caller on offensive side of the ball with Bill Callahan taking the duties from head coach Jason Garrett for the first time since Garrett became the head man. Results are everything in the NFL but when looking at the team on paper the Cowboys played better than their record showed.
In at least one game that stands out, a bad play call late in the game allowed the Ravens to come back for a win. This year, look for the new play caller to draw up some plays that will allow them use clock when the team has a lead… as traditional strategy would dictate.
Besides getting guys like RB DeMarco Murray more into the mix, Callahan will also likely look to design the offense to put the ball in WR Dez Bryant’s hands. If the Cowboys can play a full 60 minutes of football every week, they could make a run at the division and possibly further…
In Philadelphia, new head coach Chip Kelly will likely have a difficult first season with the Eagles. While the team will start the preseason with 13 to 4 (+325) odds to win the division, the Eagles will need to find its new identity under Kelly’s leadership and up-tempo offense.
Kelly who previously coached at the University of Oregon ran one of the fastest paced offensive and defensive packages that the gimmicky world of college football had ever seen. This type of balance is nothing like that NFL has ever seen either, and it could take him a few seasons to draft + acquire players that fit the style of system he will be running… with the NFL standing for “Not For Long,” Kelly had better hope the talent he has/gets jives with his scheme sooner than later.
It won’t help that WR Jeremy Maclin is lost for 2013 due to a knee injury. Though down a high caliber receiver, DeSean Jackson remains the big threat; the explosive guy; the guy who you want to get the ball in his hands. But unless DeSean Jackson is going to start stealing carries from RB LeSean McCoy, it’s going to be on Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Matt Barkley, all are fighting for the starting job, to put it there.
One thing is for sure – this team should be fast and explosive on both sides of the ball… but will this turn into wins?