giants nfc east
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

What are the odds the Giants win the NFC East? How should they game plan against division rivals?

It’s often looked at as the worst division in football.

Last season, it surely was.

The Giants, Cowboys, and Washington were all still in contention for the NFC East crown on the final day of the regular season — the teams respectively finished 6-10, 6-10, and 7-9.

There is some optimism in 2021 though — Dak Prescott is back and the Football Team are expected to improve in their second season under Ron Rivera.

But then in East Rutherford, everything could work out just as much as it could crumble.

There are countless back-and-forth discussions between Giants fans — will Daniel Jones actually take the leap? Will the defense repeat its strong 2020 performance? Will Jason Garrett be a creative play-caller? Will the weapons stay healthy? Will the offensive line impress?

The Giants are a strange team in the NFC East, and it’s incredibly tough to decipher where exactly they could finish within the division.

Vegas may know a thing or two, however.

2021 NFC East Odds

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Division Winner

  • Cowboys: +150
  • Washington: +200
  • Giants: +400
  • Eagles: +500

Odds Analysis

It’s always tough to predict how the division will shape up at the beginning of the regular season, but these odds seem fairly accurate right now.

Just starting with the basement of the NFC East, it’s fair to assume the Eagles will finish in fourth given the uncertainties surrounding both quarterback Jalen Hurts and head coach Nick Sirianni.

I’d say the Eagles are one of the NFL’s three teams who are pretty much shoo-ins for the fourth-place spot in their respective divisions (the Lions and Texans being the other two right now).

And then we go to the ceiling of the division where the oddsmakers have Dallas residing — this is also a pretty standard opinion right now. While Washington won the NFC East and was the only in-division team to make the postseason last year, the Cowboys have returned quarterback Dak Prescott and the defense could improve over time now that rookie linebacker Micah Parsons is in the mix.

The middle of the division, on the other hand, is where it gets confusing with current odds and predictions.

Because while Washington sported a better defense than most of the league last year, the Football Team’s current quarterback situation isn’t all that intriguing. It’s unclear whether veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick is capable of portraying on-field consistency or if Taylor Heinicke is a legitimately reliable reserve option.

While the Giants defense was strong last year and top 10 in points allowed, the offense could still be an up-and-down unit and it remains a discussion whether Daniel Jones is the future face of the franchise.

All in all, the oddsmakers providing Big Blue with the third-highest odds could make sense now, but my prediction for the final order is a tad bit different…

NFC East Final Standings Prediction

The final order is as follows:

  1. Cowboys
  2. Giants
  3. Washington
  4. Eagles

As was spoken about before, the top and bottom of the division are easy to predict.

I think the Giants and Football Team could finish around the same record, but the reason I put the former ahead of the latter is the very real possibility of head-to-head tiebreakers coming into play.

The Giants, in recent years, have gotten the best of Washington. Daniel Jones has yet to lose to the Football Team (he’s 4-0 against the division rival) and the Giants have won five of the last six meetings dating back to the 2018 campaign.

Scouting Division Opponents

Cowboys Offense

The Giants play the Cowboys in Week 5 (Sunday, Oct. 10) and then again in Week 15 (Sunday, Dec. 19).

Given that the regular season will be over a month old by the time the Giants face Dallas the first time around (on the road), there might not be as many concerns regarding Dak Prescott’s health.

Thus, New York must prepare for the Cowboys to attack its defense through the air.

In the four full games Dak played last year (he suffered the season-ending ankle injury in Week 5), he threw an average of 50.25 pass attempts per contest — a significant amount. He threw 58 times in Dallas’ Thursday night loss to Tampa.

The Giants must use their weapons in the pass-rushing department and not leave the entirety of the pressure on the secondary to defend this air attack. Despite James Bradberry, Adoree’ Jackson, Logan Ryan, and Jabrill Peppers residing in the defensive backfield, giving Dak Prescott time in the pocket would spell doom for Patrick Graham’s unit.

New York may need to put a nickel corner on Ezekiel Elliott as well — a linebacker covering the talented running back in the passing game sounds like a mismatch.

Cowboys Defense

On offense, the Giants must run the football (I believe the AP Stylebook rules prevent me from capitalizing every letter in “run the football,” or else I would’ve done so).

This Dallas run defense was second-to-last in terms of yards allowed last year.

Utilizing Saquon Barkley (assuming he’s healthy and on the field) as much as possible in order to take pressure off Jones and open up the play-action should be a huge part of Jason Garrett’s game plan.

It’ll be a big day for the offensive line as well — taking a guy like DeMarcus Lawrence out of the game should be a daunting task.

Washington Football Team Offense

Defending Washington’s offense isn’t expected to be as difficult of an assignment as defending Dallas’ offense. But you also need to take into account the Giants play the Football Team the first time around on a short week — New York opens up this Sunday against Denver before playing Washington on the road just four days later. Big Blue then plays the Football Team Week 18 (Sunday, Jan. 9).

WFT’s offensive unit employs numerous talented passing-game weapons, including the likes of receivers Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and tight end Logan Thomas.

The goal is to render those weapons obsolete; to not even provide Ryan Fitzpatrick with the time to locate his targets down the field.

The Giants will need the pass rush at full strength when they face Washington. This means getting Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Azeez Ojulari, Cam Brown, and even primary off-ball linebackers such as Blake Martinez and Carter Coughlin involved.

Washington Football Team Defense

The Washington defense is strong when it comes to defending the pass — the secondary was second last year in terms of yards allowed and the pass rush was sixth with 47 total sacks.

What does that mean?

The Giants will need to run their offense through the ground game, whether that’s with a healthy Saquon Barkley at the helm or the likes of Devontae Booker and Gary Brightwell.

They can’t provide this strong Washington pass rush and defensive backfield with too many opportunities to produce — the Giants must take advantage of the area where the Football Team isn’t incredibly strong.

Eagles Offense

The Eagles are in full rebuild mode.

I mean are they contenders in any which way possible? No offense to the organization at all — every team has to go through a tough rebuilding period.

But we don’t know what Philly will be getting out of Jalen Hurts as a full-time starting quarterback and it’s bold to assume Nick Sirianni will have an incredible amount of success early on as a rookie head coach.

But if you know how Sirianni works, you know he prefers to run the ball.

While serving as the offensive coordinator for the Colts last year, Indianapolis was 10th in the NFL with 459 total rushing attempts.

When the Giants face Philly in Week 12 (Sunday, Nov. 28) and then again in Week 16 (Sunday, Dec. 26), expect their front seven to step up and attempt to contain Eagles backs Miles Sanders and Boston Scott.

Eagles Defense

On the offensive side of the ball, some of these Giants receivers not named Kenny Golladay will need to make the most of their opportunities.

Eagles corner Darius Slay should be following Golladay around all game long, which means the Giants must utilize and receive superb production out of Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.