The NFC East division has fallen on hard times lately, with only three teams finishing above .500 in the last three seasons. This year’s squads are primed to end that cycle of collective mediocrity. The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles look like playoff teams. Could the Washington Commanders and even the New York Giants improve on last season’s results? Here are the NFL betting lines heading into 2022, and which team is the best bet to win the title.
NFC East divisional winner prediction for 2022
The following analysis is based on DraftKings‘ “Team Futures” betting lines, including the odds as of Aug. 23, 2022. These odds could change during the preseason and assuredly will change in-season. For now, they are based on each team’s most likely win-loss record, beginning with the team with the worst odds.
New York Giants (+800)
First thing’s first. The Giants’ receiving corps couldn’t have been much worse (or injured) last season, while Saquon Barkley continued limping through his once-promising rookie contract. With Brian Daboll now calling the shots, presumably, the team can’t get much worse than last year’s 4-13 finish.
That said, betting against the Giants to win the NFC East is arguably a very safe bet, despite the low payout. High-priced wideout Kenny Golladay is no longer assured the No. 1 (or even the No. 2) WR role. Sterling Shepard can’t stay healthy, Kadarius Toney is a still-untested, boom-bust prospect, and Wan’Dale Robinson would be an exciting role player in a better offense.
And then there’s Barkley. If he’s healthy and thriving for 17 games, this team could go 7-10. Otherwise, this team is headed toward a record between 2-15 and 4-13.
Washington Commanders (+500)
Were the 2021 Commanders one “good” QB away from reaching the playoffs? Taylor Heinicke’s lukewarm performances — combined with four losses by a touchdown or less — could have been the difference. In two of those games, they lost the lead in the fourth quarter. In three of the contests, late-fourth-quarter turnovers ended game-tying or game-winning drives.
So with Carson Wentz, Brian Robinson, and Jahan Dotson, this is the most complete offense Washington has enjoyed in years. And yet, they haven’t won more than 10 regular-season games in 31 years.
Philadelphia is ascending. Dallas remains formidable. The Commanders’ path to 9+ wins requires beating every team at or below their level, including the Giants (twice), Browns, Falcons, Texans, Bears, Lions, and Jaguars, plus at least one playoff-caliber team.
Stranger things have happened. At minimum, this team is built to be competitive. But running the table on winnable games — especially for a non-elite or even near-elite team like Washington — is a tough task. I’d steer clear of betting on them to win the NFC East, despite the fairly generous +500 odds.
Philadelphia Eagles (+160)
Last year’s Eagles were 2-4 in games decided by six or fewer points. As with other NFC East teams, their 2022 schedule is pretty soft. And of course, their offseason trade for A.J. Brown could prove to be a game-changer for a team that finished only 28th in passing yards, thanks in part to attempting the league’s fewest passes.
A more functional passing attack — combined with Jalen Hurts’ elite rushing ability and a more involved Kenneth Gainwell — should push the Eagles into the 10-11 win range. They also have the benefit of playing some of their toughest out-of-conference games at home, including against the Packers, Saints, Titans, Vikings, and Steelers.
There’s certainly a path to 13 victories. Philadelphia’s defense arguably is better than last year’s. Hurts, Brown, Gainwell, and DeVonta Smith form a youthful nucleus that’s still improving. Miles Sanders and Dallas Goedert are often better on the field than in the box scores. Assuming they can take at least one of two from Dallas, I’m giving them a small edge to surprise most prognosticators and win the division.
Dallas Cowboys (+140)
It’s risky to bet against Dallas this year, but that’s what I’m doing. It’s not because they won’t be good (they should be very good). But they’re facing more questions than Philly, and their schedule doesn’t help.
Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, and Dalton Schultz are elite-caliber performers. However, Dallas’ passing attack could take a hit with the losses of Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson Jr., and with Michael Gallup and James Washington sidelined. Rookie Jalen Tolbert should step up. But while the ceiling for this offense was sky-high the past couple years (when Prescott was healthy), this year it might be more in the top 8-12 range.
Additionally, the once-vaunted offensive line is trying to replace some key offseason departures. And Ezekiel Elliott’s continued high snap counts (according to historical NFL data) make him just as much of a regression risk heading into 2022 as he was heading into 2020 and 2021.
Yes, Tony Pollard is a legit talent. But with games against the Bucs, Bengals, Rams, Packers, Colts, and Titans — including three on the road – I’m putting the Cowboys’ win total at 11-12. In other words, I don’t see them (at +140 odds) as a better bet than the Eagles (at +160 odds).