Currently at 1-4-1, it’s been a tough start for the Philadelphia Eagles. Luckily for them, their peers in the NFC East are right there with them, as you surely know.
Currently listed at +140 odds to win the NFC East, I find this to be tremendous value for a team that has at least shown something compared to their division-mates.
I’m not saying the Eagles are a good football team, they’re certainly not a contender to win it all. But, the schedule is loosening up and they should be getting reinforcements sooner rather than later.
A Quick Look at the Other Choices
Before we touch on the Eagles, let’s check in on the other three NFC East teams. The Cowboys (-120) are still the favorite to win the division – even after the 38-10 beatdown by the Cardinals this past Monday night.
Now, rumors are flying that all is not well in the Dallas locker room. Players are calling out coaches for being unprepared and not willing to teach, coaches are saying that players need to execute better. Whenever a report like this comes out, it usually causes certain doom. At just 2-4, with a backup quarterback and an atrociously poor defense, I think the wheels are about to fall off for this Cowboys team.
Meanwhile, the Washington Football Team and the New York Giants don’t have much to be excited about. Both teams took a passer in the 2019 draft: it appears Washington has already given up on theirs and Daniel Jones’ fate is still up in the air.
Washington has some interesting building blocks on both sides of the ball in Chase Young, Terry McLaurin and Antonio GIbson, but Kyle Allen isn’t going to be the man that gets them over the hump. They are losers of five straight without much sign of changing course.
The Giants have absolutely no one on offense that threatens a defense. No stars or playmakers to keep this team in games.
Philly Philly: Now is the Time to Strike
Now, for the Eagles. At +140 to win the division, now is the time to strike on this future bet, before they play the Giants on Thursday Night Football.
Despite the 1-4-1 record, the team seems to be building momentum. Don’t listen to the Twitter trolls online: anyone with eyes can see that quarterback Carson Wentz has put his woeful start behind him and is inching back to being the franchise QB this team needs.
After beating the 49ers in Week 4 to pick up their first and only win, the Eagles followed it up with two closely fought games against the Steelers and Ravens. They lost to Pittsburgh 38-29 and Baltimore 30-28, but it’s the offensive output that is particularly encouraging.
The Ravens and Steelers came in at #1 and #2 total defense, and the ravaged Eagles were able to put up four touchdowns on both. When these games felt like they were over, this team continued to fight and keep it close. You hear about the discord over in Dallas between coaching staff and players, while head coach Doug Pederson still has buy-in from his guys to never give up.
Now, this NFC East bet is a future one, so it’s important to consider the state of this team and where it’s headed.
There has been a barrage of injuries for this team since 2017, and 2020 is no different.
On offense alone, this team has lost the following
This list could nearly field a team on its own, and the fact they’ve stayed so competitive while weathering these losses is why I feel so confident about this bet. Reinforcements are coming.
This only touches on the offense. The defense, save for the poor linebacking play, has steadied as of late. Philly’s defensive line in particular has wreaked havoc on teams all year (21 sacks) while All-Pro corner Darius Slay has brought a new level of coverage ability to a team that has sorely lacked a shutdown defensive back for close to a decade.
So, what is Wentz working with? LT Jordan Mailata and Guard Nate Herbig have stepped up beautifully along the offensive line as injuries have forced them into game action. With the hopeful returns of guard Isaac Seumalo and the best RT in football Lane Johnson, along with stalwart center Jason Kelce still playing, this line is set to settle in sooner before later.
The Eagles will be missing a few weapons for a pair of games, in running back MIles Sanders and tight Zach Ertz. However, it appears TE Dallas Goedert, who many in Philly want to take over the starting job anyway, is close to returning. On the outside, the emergence of WR Travis Fulgham has been a revelation for a team lacking a reliable receiver for the last few years. In his three games since joining the active roster, Fulgham has 18 catches for 284 yards and three touchdowns.
First-round rookie WR Jalen Reagor is set to make his return in the coming weeks, which offers the dynamic deep threat that Wentz and this offense need. As you look around the league, rookie WRs are taking over, and Reagor was there with them before injuring his thumb early in the season.
It’s best to temper expectations on wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, but if they can bring anything to the table with a return, Wentz would surely welcome it. Fulgham, Reagor and slot-man Greg Ward would be the starters, and if Wentz can get some consistency on the outside, coupled with a healthier and stout offensive line, this team can piece together enough wins to win this dreadful division.
Add in more Jalen Hurts, who has proven to offer a spark on offense with the ball in his hands and I expect some creative plays to be a weekly occurrence.
With their next three games against the Giants, Cowboys and Giants, we’re looking at a realistic chance at 4-4-1 in a month. The schedule does have some tough teams looming, but even beating one of the Browns, Saints, Seahawks, Packers or Cardinals, coupled with the other NFC East teams, would put this team at roughly 7-8-1 or 6-9-1, which would remarkably be good enough to win the division.
Is it sad? Yes. Is it a strong value? You bet. I would expect these +140 odds to shift if the Eagles are to beat the Giants this Thursday, so now is the time to take a flier and watch this awful division battle shape-up.