(CBS DFW)- The NFC East has been appropriately referred to as the NFC Least by many around the football world after four weeks of action. The division as a whole boasts a 3-12-1 record, with no team having more than one win and the 1-2-1 Philadelphia Eagles currently in the top spot.
Some of the poor play can be attributed to injuries, but overall, it’s been a struggle for these teams so far this season. Heading into Week 5, there are some tough matchups on deck and a divisional game in Dallas. To break down the week’s slate and give an overview of who has the best odds to win the division, we reached out to the “Wizard of Odds” Kenny White, an analyst with SportsLine.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, October 11, 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
The Eagles, coming off their first win of the season last week against the San Francisco 49ers, draw a difficult matchup as they go across the Keystone state to visit the 3-0 Pittsburgh Steelers. There are plenty of questions about Philly at the moment. But one of the biggest is at wide receiver, where, last week, the team was without their top four players and started the quartet of Greg Ward, Deontay Burnett, John Hightower and Travis Fulgham.
As White puts it, “They need some help at wide receiver. Their top four wide receivers were all out. If they can get those guys back that will really help Carson Wentz.”
DeSean Jackson returned to practice this week, as did J.J. Arcega Whiteside, but Alshon Jeffrey is expected to miss this Sunday’s game with a non-COVID related illness. The return of Jackson should help some, but it’s still a tall task against a Steelers defense that is third in the league in sacks with 15.
Plus, the Steelers offense is much improved with Ben Roethlisberger back in the lineup.
“He is the biggest difference maker of any player from last year to this year,” said White. “Made up six points in their power rating, and it has paid off already.”
The Steelers enter this game as seven-point favorites. They’re also seen as a playoff team, though they have a tougher road to a division title than the Eagles do.
“They are +250, the second choice in their division in the North only because they’re in the same division as the Baltimore Ravens. That gives the Steelers a 29% chance to win the division,” said White.
As for the Birds, White notes they are the second-favorite, behind Dallas, at +125, to win the division. With the way the NFC East has gone, White believes “they’re well coached, so, yeah, they do have good chance. 44% chance, Eagles, they could be there at the end.”
Los Angeles Rams @ Washington Football Team, Sunday, October 11, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
At the same time the Eagles face the Steelers, the Washington Football Team has another difficult matchup on tap with Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams visiting FedEx Field.
Washington made some changes at quarterback this week, with Ron Rivera announcing that Kyle Allen would start in place of second-year QB Dwayne Haskins. Allen was with Rivera in Carolina, and he threw for over 3,000 yards in 12 starts for the Panthers. But he also tossed 16 interceptions, which is dangerous against a Rams team that has already swiped four passes from opposing quarterbacks this season.
Washington has pressure opposing quarterbacks well thus far, racking up 14 sacks in the first four games.
“I love the defensive front, they put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks,” said White.
But the Rams might have the answer in that regard, having allowed just six sacks of Jared Goff this year. Overall, this is a mismatch on paper, with the Rams not just a potential playoff team, but a potential Super Bowl contender.
“The West is good. All four teams outstanding, and all have playoff hopes. All four teams even think they can win a Super Bowl. This one, the Rams +350 to win the division. Those are good odds, if you want to jump on them now, because there is a good chance being a seven-point favorite in this game, they could be 4-1 after this weekend,” said White. “That is a 22% chance of winning the division at +350. They’re also 10-1 to win the NFC, not a bad price for a team that was in the Super Bowl just a few years ago.”
For Washington, dropping to 1-4 wouldn’t be ideal, but White does believe that the organization has the right man at the controls to turn the team around in future seasons.
“I have always been a Ron Rivera fan. I think he does a fabulous job as a head coach, and I think he’ll turn this organization around. They’re 1-3 right now. So, if we just multiply that out, they win four games and go 4-12. I made their number 4.5, I think they could win five,” said White.
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, October 11, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Finally, the week wraps up for the division in Dallas with the Cowboys hosting the Giants. Dallas, despite leading the league in several offensive statistical categories, enters just 1-3 due to a defense that has struggled mightily. White told CBS Local’s Katie Johnston he’s surprised by the team’s start.
“I am shocked at the slow start, because I said this Cowboy team really has the talent to play for an NFL championship this year,” said White. “I thought Dak would play with a chip on his shoulder, and he has. He’s played well. But they have had so many injuries. They are the best team in the division.”
They’ll be going up against a Giants defense that has kept the team in games thus far. But the Giants offense has been the bigger concern, scoring just three total touchdowns on the season through four weeks. They could have a chance to get going against what has been a bad Cowboys defense.
Still, White believes the Cowboys are the most likely team to get back on track and take the division title.
“Their odds reflect that at -120, giving them a 55% chance. I think they have about a 70% chance unless the Eagles get really healthy really quick,” said White. “The Cowboys, 12-1 to win the NFC, I think there is value there. And, 28-1 to win the Super Bowl, I think there’s value there too.”
What picks can you make with confidence in Week 5? And which Super Bowl contender goes down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which NFL teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from the model that is up over $7,300 on its top-rated picks.