For something light on a Friday afternoon, the B/R NFC East blog is going to extrapolate in order to prognosticate.
See, Cantor Gaming in Las Vegas has released point spreads for every 2013 NFL regular-season game excluding the ones that will take place in Week 17, and our pal Joe Fortenbaugh has published each spread at the National Football Post, along with a breakdown of how often teams are favored.
Of course, game-by-game spreads don't necessarily mesh with full-season futures odds, so there's only so far you can take this. But it's still interesting to get a feel for what some of the smartest people in the sports world think might go down in the upcoming season.
The good news for Washington Redskins fans is that, based on those 15 games, Vegas is giving them an edge on the rest of the division. Cantor has Washington favored to win eight games, has the 'Skins as an underdog in six games and has them listed as a pick 'em in Philadelphia in Week 11.
Interestingly, though, the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles are both being given strong chances to steal the division title. New York is a favorite six times and an underdog six times, while Philadelphia has a five-to-six split with a ridiculous four pick 'ems. No other team in the league has that many.
If we're to presume that the Giants will be favored in their home finale against Washington, then New York would actually control its own destiny in its three pick 'em games (at Philly in Week 8, vs. Green Bay in Week 11 and at San Diego in Week 14).
But Big Blue is also considered to be unpredictable. While Washington is projected to go 4-4 with a single pick 'em in nine games decided by three points or fewer, the Giants are projected to go 4-6 with three pick 'ems in 13 games of that ilk.
Philadelphia is projected to go 4-1 in those games, but is a pick 'em against Dallas in Week 7, against the G-Men in Week 8, against the 'Skins in Week 11 and against the Bears in Week 16 (all at home). If they were to win all of those pick 'ems and everyone else's schedule were to play out as Vegas is handicapping it, the Eagles would actually win the division.
Seems odd that it works out that way, because Philadelphia is going through a major transformation after winning just four games last year. But one year ago, Cantor had the Eagles pegged for a 13-2 record heading into their season finale, so maybe they just get too much credit in Vegas.
So while the consensus is that the Redskins have a very slight edge in the NFC East, it's become apparent that experts believe the division will once again come down to the wire in 2013.
Super Bowl odds released by Bovada following the draft had Washington and Dallas together at 28-1, just ahead of the Eagles at 30-1. The Giants led the pack there at 20-1, but all four NFC East teams were bunched together between the No. 9 spot and the No. 15 spot on the list.
Cantor has at least one team from each of the seven other divisions favored in at least six more games than they're an underdog in, but the Redskins are only plus-two in that category. Dallas is also projected to be the best last-place team in the league. The spreads have the 'Boys going 6-8 with one pick 'em headed into Week 17, but no other division has all four teams doing better than 5-9 with one pick 'em through 16 weeks.
And when it comes to those Bovada Super Bowl odds, the Giants and Ravens are the longest shots among projected division winners (both 20-1), while the Eagles have by far the best odds among teams projected to finish last in their division (30-1).
So the NFC East might not be the best division in football, but it's probably the most competitive. Don't be surprised if the division title is decided on the final Sunday night of the season for the third consecutive year. And when you consider that the networks already favor the division because of its lucrative TV markets and dedicated fanbases, that's probably a good thing for everybody.
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