Givin Futures: AFC East & NFC East

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) passes the ball during warmups prior to the game against the Washington Football Team at FedExField.
Image Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, BetPrep Sharp and NBC Sports Betting Analyst Brad Feinberg discusses expected win totals, division odds, Super Bowl favorites, and potential award winners with host and BetPrep Editor Michael Salfino of The Athletic and FiveThirtyEight. It’s the official futures podcast of BetPrep, a free sports betting research site that empowers bettors with the same tools both the sharps and the sportsbooks use.

Here are some highlights from the latest episode of the Givin’ Futures Podcast.

This week, we’re going to start our division previews. We have the NFC East and the AFC East on tap. So Brad, why don’t we start with the NFC East and your hometown team, the Eagles?

Brad: I do like Philadelphia here UNDER seven wins. Looking at the schedule, there was just one game all year that they were favorite — one point at Detroit. That doesn’t mean that they’re going 1-16. But they’re not winning seven games probably either. And how good is Jalen Hurts?

There’s a disconnect because fantasy football really likes Hurts but the circles with reality don’t overlap.

Brad: Anyone compared to Carson Wentz looked good to me last year. You can also get the Eagles plus-550 to win the division, don’t recommend it. They’re minus-350 not to make the playoffs and plus-280 to make the playoffs. I’m not leaving minus-$50 on the “No.” But I do not expect this team to make the playoffs. I did bet under seven wins earlier at regular juice. But right now, I would recommend taking under 6.5 at plus-125. I’d rather have that than under seven laying like 150 because the math translates to around 45 cents per win, and there’s about a 75-cent difference between 6.5 wins and seven.

Next up is the Washington Football Team. I’ll put a toe into the analytics pool. And one of the stats that is viewed as being the most predictive is actually offensive play success rate, measured by how effective you are on each down. So on first down he 40% of the yards to be successful play, on second down half of the remaining yards, and on third down either first down or a touchdown. I’ve taken the offensive play success rate, and subtracted it from the opposing offensive play success rate. And this team was last in the NFL in that category last year, which I think bodes poorly for them, even though they seem to have a little bit of juice as a team that could surprise in the division — that’s the New York Giants.

Brad: We may spar a little bit on this one. And again, I did not bet this one. But I do have a lean. Right now, the number with the Giants is seven. And there’s some juice to the over; it’s around minus-130 minus-135 and I’m going to lean over here. I do not think this team is going to go 6-11. I think this team has a chance to be really improved. They get (safety) Landon Collins back. They didn’t have Saquan Barkley last year. They have Kenny Golladay now.

Golladay with the hamstring injury which was a big problem for him in 2012.

Brad: But they also have Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton. Barkley. I don’t think this is the Sister’s from the Poor East. Okay, Daniel Jones is a rich man’s Mitch Trubisky. I don’t say that as a compliment. But I think he’s a better version of Trubisky.

Could you say a poor man’s Josh Allen?

Brad: Maybe a homeless man’s Josh Allen. This is the year where he’s either going to be a guy they go forward with or they’re going to cut bait. When I look at this team’s schedule, at the Chiefs is going to be an extremely tough game and at Tampa Bay is going to be an extremely tough game. But those were the only two on the schedule. There’s enough talent here to win eight, nine or better.

Now, here’s the issue as I see it with Washington. Defense, obviously the strength last year, historically has not really correlated to year to year. Now they’re get (Ryan) Fitzpatrick in at quarterback, obviously a huge upgrade. Have they improved enough on offense to compensate for the expected regression on the defensive side?

Brad: Fitzpatrick’s career arc reminds me a little bit of rich Gannon, who did become an MVP. When I watched them last year from Miami, I thought he was the reason that team played well. I think by adding a very competent player that they will actually improve on last year’s record. They’re my pick actually to win the division. I think after Aaron Donald, Chase Young could be the best defensive player in football. Terry McLaurin is one of my favorite receivers in the league. This is right there as my biggest investment of the year, betting over 8.5 wins. I also bet them at 4-1 to win the division, though it’s now down to plus-260. I still like them there. I think they’re the most likely winner in this division. I did make a bet at plus-170 to make the playoffs and still like it down now to plus-150. .I think this team wins double-digit games.

So now Dallas you’ve just stated that you don’t like them obviously since they’re the favorite to win the division, a pretty heavy favorite. They were 14th in the NFL last year in play-success differential, a borderline playoff-worthy number. Dak Prescott is now back. Add a little bit of improvement through the draft and it seems like the market is at 10 or 11 wins. 

Brad: I was incredibly bullish on them last year and I got taken to the cleaners. A lot of it was unlucky. Dak got hurt, but I was going to be wrong anyway, honestly. Dallas is plus-130 to win the division. Or you could either take over 9.0 wins at minus-130. Under 9.5 wins is also minus-130. So it’s basically dealer’s choice there. Look, this is a team that I could see coming back. I really do like the kid they drafted from Penn State, Michael Parsons. Eventually this defense should improve. I’m neutral on the Dallas season win total, I think that 9.5 is the right number. I’m just more bullish on Washington. This will be the most improved division in football. I think the Eagles will be the only non-quality team. Washington and Dallas both win double-digit games. The Giants can win eight games. Remember, too, something I always talk about: Shop these bets. Will Dallas make the playoffs? I found the yes minus-140. And plus-150 on the no. Do your research. and you can get 10 cents on your money for doing nothing beyond making both bets. But, yes, I could see a scenario where everything does come together for Dallas.

Would it be fair to say that even though you like Washington more, to win the division, that if you were to bet a team to be a conference champion, or Super Bowl champion, that you may prefer Dallas because of that upside that you were just talking about?

Brad: I actually think that is fair, because Washington probably is always going to be somewhat capped. Just because Ryan Fitzpatrick is not getting that elite QB group. Dak, on the other hand, is the guy that could be that. I do think Dallas has the higher upside in terms of advancing to the Super Bowl.

So now why don’t we switch to the AFC East, what are your thoughts on the Jets?

Brad: There’s a lot of things I want to like about the Jets. But here’s another dealer’s choice. You can get over 6.0 with juice, you could take under 6.5 with juice. The only reason that I’m going to lean here towards the under is it’s hard for me to see seven wins. I can’t give Zach Wilson enough respect to get there. Maybe he’s going to be great. This team is 25-to-1 to win the division. That’s such a nice price but I can’t get myself there. Minus-700 not to make the playoffs plus-550 to make the playoffs. Again, very attractive prices but I can’t get myself there. I pass on the Jets completely.

The market seems split on the Dolphins and Patriots. Where are you?

Brad: The Patriots are plus-350 to win the division but I can’t get myself there. I lean under on 9.5 wins. I don’t think this team’s going 10-7. But I just have so much respect for Bill Belichick. He’s the only coach I just give that kind of credence to. They’re minus-140 not to make the playoffs; plus-120 to make the playoffs. I can only go under here though. I didn’t bet it, but it’s lean.

Miami is my big bet in the division, under 9.5 wins. Tua Tagovailoa was so bad last year. If Tua plays the way he played last year, he’s not an NFL starting quarterback. Maybe he was still hurt and it’s just as simple as that. And I like their skill players. But the division has improved. Miami’s plus-350 to win the division. I told you I have a big bet on the under win total. They’re minus-140 not to make the playoffs, which I like. And plus-120 to make the playoffs. But I’m going against Miami this year.

How about the division favorite the Bills, you clearly seem to like them since you’re under on everyone else.

Brad: Josh Allen was absolutely John Elway-like last year. I’m generally not an advocate of laying a price on a team to win the division. But I do think they’re winning it 60% of the time. So if you wanted to take Buffalo minus-150, I think there are worse investments. But 11 wins is the right number. I don’t bet just to bet.  Anyone who listens to this podcast, please, know I don’t bet for the thrill of betting, I bet to make money. Will the Bills make the playoffs? Minus-350 on the yes plus-275 on the no. If I had to pick one thing here in Buffalo, it would be minus-150 to win the division.