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Best Bets - NFC East

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The NFC East produced last year’s Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants delivering a great postseason run. Had that not occurred however, it would have certainly been viewed as a very down year for the premiere division in the NFL. This year, optimism is high for all four teams and it could be another tight race. Here are some predictions for the 2012 NFL season and who will be the best in the NFC East.

Best Team: Philadelphia Eagles

The Giants are the Super Bowl champions, but New York was negative in point differential in the regular season. The Eagles, despite being 8-8, were +68 and really played well down the stretch after a horrible start to the season. The Eagles lost five games by seven points or less and three of the losses on the season came in games where Michael Vick didn’t play or was knocked out of the game. The Eagles were the best team in division games going 5-1 including winning all three division road games, but Philadelphia had to face a tougher schedule than the rest of the NFC East after finishing in first place in 2010. Everything will depend on Vick’s health, but the offense has a lot of potential and good balance and the defense should be the most complete unit in the division after allowing by far the fewest points in the division last season.

Best ‘OVER’ Win Totals Bet: Washington Redskins

The Redskins are the pick by default as the numbers on the other three teams are certainly inflated. With a rookie quarterback, expectations need to be grounded, but plenty of rookie quarterbacks have delivered strong seasons on winning teams in recent years. Washington has a chance to get off to a decent start, catching the Saints in Week 1 when New Orleans may be feeling the effects of a nightmare off-season and the recent hurricane and then catching winnable games with St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Tampa Bay. Washington’s defense was respectable last season, but on offense the shuffling quarterbacks and the injuries in the backfield eventually took a significant toll. This team beat the Giants twice last season and while the schedule is challenging with the AFC North and NFC South teams on the schedule, the Redskins have a fourth place draw and the upside to deliver an encouraging season.

Best ‘UNDER’ Win Totals Bet: Dallas Cowboys

Dallas is going to be overvalued every season and the Cowboys already are fighting a lengthy injury report. It is not clear that the offense can return to form and there are big question marks in the running game. Dallas likely will have the worst defense in this division and the schedule starts out with very difficult games, opening at New York and then at Seattle in the first two weeks. The Bears, Ravens, Panthers, and Falcons, as well as a second game with New York will fill in the first eight games. As we’ve seen in the past, a slow start can spell a lot of drama and distractions for this heavily scrutinized franchise and the competition in this division simply looks too tough with three teams that have more promise than Dallas.

Best ATS Performer: New York Giants

The Giants will lose as favorites several times this season, but New York also seems to rise to the challenge and play its best in the biggest games. New York was the only team in this division with a winning ATS record last season and despite being the Super Bowl champions, this is a team that is facing constant doubts, as many, me included, don’t feel they will win this division. A difficult schedule could lead to a weaker record early in the year and value could grow on a New York team that at its best can beat anyone. The Giants also went 4-0 against the AFC last season and New York is not the type of team that will face huge favorite spreads as the offense can be quite inconsistent.

Best Team to Fade: Dallas Cowboys

Dallas was just 5-10-1 ATS last season and it could be another difficult year in Dallas despite the usual optimism. This team has simply been passed up in overall talent and this was a very poor defensive team against the pass last year. Dallas went 3-1 in the preseason which could lead to some elevated spreads and even in wins last season, Dallas had to squeak by, winning twice in overtime and featuring four games won by three or fewer points. The schedule is even tougher this year as being a third place team has minimal benefit when the teams drawn will be the emerging Seahawks and a dangerous Bears team in addition to the AFC North and NFC South, a group of eight teams that is about as strong as any two divisions in the NFL.

Best ‘OVER’ team: New York Giants

With the way the New York defensive line came together last season, this team has a reputation as a strong defensive team. It really is not the case as the Giants allowed 25 points per game last season with only four teams in the NFC allowing more points. New York will rely on Ahmad Bradshaw to carry the rushing load, but he has rarely played an injury-free season and the Giants will likely need to be a pass-first team in most match-ups. For the season, the ‘over’ has had the edge in Giants games for four straight seasons and not much should change as New York’s defense will give up some big plays, but also will force some big plays to set up scoring plays as well.

Best ‘UNDER’ team: Washington Redskins

Washington scored fewer points than everyone except for Tampa Bay and St. Louis in the NFC last season, averaging 18 points per game. Adding a new QB can help in that regard, but it will certainly take some time and Robert Griffin III had to battle several injuries in college before his great 2011 season. Washington will be focused on running the ball and creating favorable situations for Griffin to avoid mistakes and this is still the weakest team in the division at the wide receiver position. Washington’s defense was much better than the 5-11 record indicated last season and the Redskins will likely play a lot of tight lower scoring games this season.

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